FORT PICKETT, Va. — A new challenge awaits the 2nd Battalion, 319th Regiment, of the 1st Brigade (PD), 104th Training Division (LT) as they approach Cadet Summer Training – they are tasked with instructing Land Navigation, a mission they have not been responsible for in over four years, but a challenge they are prepared to face.
The 2/319th Soldiers are gearing up by testing their land navigation knowledge and ensuring they are prepared to teach the new batch of cadets this summer by retraining themselves ahead of the mission. Part of that training included the battalion conducting a field training exercise at Fort Pickett, Virginia, to focus on land navigation and map reading skills.
The priority of the FTX was to practice and assess the land navigation committee’s Program of Instruction that the battalion will utilize to instruct the cadets during CST 2017 at Fort Knox, Kentucky.
Kicking off the FTX was land navigation classroom instruction based off the Program of Instruction provided by the cadet command land navigation committee.
Every Soldier within the battalion was provided with the same block of land navigation instruction and the battalion’s non-commissioned officers were each given a chance to present the curriculum. Following the instruction, company leadership identified the NCOs who presented themselves as the most knowledgeable, coherent and confident in their ability to teach the material. Those NCOs were chosen to be the main instructors to present the land navigation POI for CST 2017, no small feat with an unfamiliar subject and new POI.
Once the classroom portion was complete, it was time to move on to the practical application of skills and the Soldiers took to the training lanes for day land navigation refresher training.
The training site contained twenty land navigation lanes, with each lane having five points and Soldiers were tasked with finding a minimum of three points to pass successfully. Broken down into teams of two to three the Soldiers encountered water crossings, bodies of water, hills, spurs and draws and miles of unfamiliar territory throughout the course. By the end of the day, many groups found themselves with wet feet and an ample respect for the land navigation course. After successfully finding their three points and enjoying their Meals Ready to Eat, the Soldiers regrouped and received both the day and night land navigation POI. The Battalion Commander and Command Sergeant Major were in attendance to validate the blocks of instruction. After the commander’s validation and completion of the briefings, the Soldiers began making preparations to conduct night land navigation.
At 2030, night land navigation commenced. The same course was utilized, but only fifteen of the twenty lanes were used. The Soldiers were given three points and tasked with finding a minimum of one point to pass. They remained in the same teams of two to three and chemical lights were placed on the points to aid in identification.
By conducting the day and night practical land navigation courses, Soldiers of the 2/319th feel better prepared for their CST mission. The FTX was a reminder that land navigation is a perishable skill and being sent into the woods with a compass, map, grid points, and asked to navigate successfully is not an easy task. At the end of the FTX, they had a better comprehension of the task ahead as they instill the importance and fundamentals of land navigation to the cadets attending CST 2017.