Soldiers return from Iraq, but training never stops - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Soldiers return from Iraq, but training never stops

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November 21, 2003

Ft. Benning - Third Brigade soldiers from Fort Benning were battle tested on the front lines in Iraq. Now, they're back in Georgia and still training to keep their battlefield skills sharp.

M-1 tanks are on a mission. On the radio, "Panther 5, acknowledge" These 3rd Brigade soldiers are searching for enemies.

The gunner says, "I'm the one who shoots the guns and clears the targets." He locks on the enemy. The radio blares, "Let's go ahead and give it to 'em." BOOOOM. An enemy tank destroyed and our tanks move in closer. These U.S. soldiers take over Ft. Benning's Hastings Range. First Sergeant Allen Stephenson, says, "What they're doing is they are coordinating their efforts firing amongst the platoon making sure they don't all shoot the same targets."

The soldiers say the more you sweat in training the less you bleed in combat. Stephenson adds, "This unit that's shooting today was the first of Charlie Company 269 Armor. We came in and occupied a portion of West Baghdad."

They work under extreme pressures, but in Baghdad they had to shift from intense combat to peace keeping. Stephenson says, "We train for combat on a daily basis, but training for peace is something as a tanker you don't normally do."

This unit had a big role in getting electricity, water, food and medical supplies to Iraqis. Today, these tank soldiers didn't have enemies firing back, but if they do go back to war , they'll be ready for the heat of battle.

The soldiers were preparing for their trip to the National Training Center. In January, they will spend a month in California.

posted at 7:05PM by kathryn.simmons@walb.com