FORT WAINWRIGHT, Alaska –
As January approaches the roads around Fairbanks will be less cluttered with bulky military vehicles.
Earlier this month 1st Stryker Brigade Combat Team “Arctic Wolves” began loading more than 260 Stryker vehicles and equipment for a month-long deployment to the National Training Center in Fort Irwin, California, where units from across the Army funnel into the complex hoping to obtain a deployable status.
This exercise is of the utmost importance for the Brigade according to Maj. David Mattox, spokesperson for 1st SBCT.
“(The training at) NTC is the capstone exercise for the brigade,” Mattox said. “The brigade has spent the last six months to a year preparing for this exercise and validating its ability to deploy anywhere in the world in defense of the nation.”
Soldiers from C Co., 1st Battalion, 24th Infantry Regiment said they are ready to knock out the training exercise.
Spc. William Williamson, an infantryman with C Co., 1-24 IN and originally from Hattiesburg, Mississippi, said that his unit’s training, from the company-level training exercises to the brigade-level training exercises, has prepared him for NTC.
Food service specialists who normally work at the dining facilities have also been preparing for the different work environment they will face during the deployment to NTC.
Pfc. Matt Dreher, a food service specialist with 70th Brigade Engineer Battalion who will be going to NTC for the first time and originally from Colvin, Washington, understands that he has to be ready for the drastic changes to his job while deployed to the austere environment of NTC.
Dreher said he normally works his shift at the DFAC and goes home, but NTC will require more Soldiering skills.
“Things like carrying your weapon and all of your gear when you’re in a hot containerized kitchen feeding hundreds and hundreds of people for hours on end; it’s a lot more stressful than working back at the DFAC,” he said.
Family life is always a mainstay when it comes to a Soldier’s wellbeing, according to 2nd Lt. James Gallagher, a native of Gaithersburg, Maryland, and an intelligence officer and the Family Readiness liaison with 3rd Battalion, 21st Infantry Regiment.
The 3-21 IN “Gimlets” took the initiative and created “Gimlet Academy” in an effort to disseminate information to Soldiers and their families as well as to sow a relationship that is deeper than just a workplace.
Recently, 3-21 IN had a Welcome to Winter class briefed by Gregory J. Sanches, Fort Wainwright’s Installation Safety Manager, which highlighted anything a newcomer to the arctic would need to know.
Gallagher said a financial readiness class and a marriage class hosted by the battalion chaplain are also planned.
“A strong Army begins with a strong family,” said Gallagher.
The brigade isn’t currently headed for a deployment after NTC but with the extensive training and preparation for this