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News | Jan. 26, 2024

Wisconsin Guard Soldiers fight elements in urban operations training

By Staff Sgt. Kati Volkman Company A, 2nd Battalion, 127th Infantry Regiment

For 24 frigid hours Jan. 17-18, Wisconsin Army National Guard Soldiers with Company A, 2nd Battalion, 127th Infantry Regiment, 32nd Infantry Brigade Combat Team, utilized the High Risk Entry Facility and grounds at Volk Field, Wisconsin — part of the Regional Emergency All-Climate Training (REACT) Center — to train and perfect their urban operations in preparation for the brigade’s upcoming training at the Joint Readiness Training Center (JRTC).

Sgt. 1st Class Charles Hensen, a platoon sergeant with Company A, explained the importance of conducting these kinds of training events.

“Some of these guys are potentially a year and a half away from combat,” Hensen said. “Whether they see combat or not is not my decision — it’s my decision to make sure they are ready for it.”

Staff Sgt. Justin Swiersz, weapons squad leader for Company A’s 1st Platoon, was stationed at JRTC for four years, completing 37 rotations with the opposition forces (OPFOR). He explained that the training Company A is doing will be useful for its Soldiers.

“It gets our feet wet, because we haven’t typically done shoot houses in the National Guard” Swiersz said. “The additional training and unique situations that we’ve gotten to see has definitely improved our lethality and confidence in completing these mission-oriented tasks.”

2nd Lt. Reed Matz, Company A’s 2nd Platoon leader, was impressed with how his Soldiers did in this unique situation and weather.

“There are things we need to get consistent on as a platoon, like communication plans and methods of marking,” Matz reflected. “Overall, we were able to breach the building, use some simulation rounds to take down the bad guys, and learn a lot in the process.”

Hensen sees training opportunities like this as a chance to set his Soldiers apart from others that have come before them.

“It ripped the Band-Aid off on the things our Soldiers can work on at the individual level,” Hensen said. “I enjoyed observing the thought processes, the fact that it’s a situation our teams aren’t used to, and we saw that they were able to utilize what they had and adjust as they needed.”