Florida’s 53rd lauded for ‘record breaking’ training at Ft. Hood

Written by  //  March 1, 2010  //  Feature Stories

FORT HOOD, Texas (March 1, 2010) — Soldiers from the Florida Army National Guard departing for Kuwait and Iraq this week are some of the most skilled Soldiers who have trained at Ft. Hood, according to the commanding general of First Army Division West.

Soldiers from 53rd Infantry Brigade Combat Team stand in formation during a departure ceremony at Ft. Hood, Texas, Feb. 25, 2010. The Florida Army National Guard Soldiers departed by plane from Ft. Hood in late-February and early-March for missions in Kuwait and Iraq. Photo by Spc. Spenser Rhodes

During a departure ceremony for the 53rd Infantry Brigade Combat Team (IBCT) at Ft. Hood on Feb. 25, Maj. Gen. Charles Anderson noted that the nearly 2,500 Florida Soldiers arrived at the active duty Army post highly trained, and after more than six weeks of additional training under the tutelage of First Army Division West were ready for their missions in Southwest Asia.

“53rd IBCT, you are the best marksmen of any brigade combat team that we have trained here at Ft. Hood,” Maj. Gen. Anderson said to the Soldiers gathered in formation on a windswept field on Ft. Hood’s North Post.

The general noted that every battalion in the IBCT averaged at least 80 percent in the combined arms live-fire training, and nine mounted crews earned a perfect score of 100 points during their evaluation.

“That, ladies and gentlemen, is record breaking,” he told the Soldiers.

The 53rd IBCT departed from Florida in early January, and will support Operation Iraqi Freedom in Kuwait and Iraq. One of the missions of the Soldiers will be to escort convoys of U.S. forces leaving Iraq as part of the scheduled drawdown of troops and equipment in the country.

Maj. Gen. Anderson said it was fitting that the Florida Army National Guard was participating in this mission, since the 53rd’s Infantry battalions took part in initial operations in Iraq in 2003.

“Who are we calling to protect those convoys?” he asked the Soldiers. “The same units we called seven years ago to protect the Patriot firing batteries (when we went) into Iraq. And that’s the 53rd.”

The general added that since nearly 60 percent of the Soldiers participating in the mission are already combat veterans, they understand the importance of the repetitious training they received at first in Florida and later in Ft. Hood.

That training included everything from basic marksmanship to first aid, and even reviews of cultural sensitivities in the Middle East.

“The combat veterans in your formation understand that repetition builds precision, instincts and the ability to adapt to ambiguous situations,” Maj. Gen. Anderson added.

The mobilization and deployment of the 53rd – which included Soldiers from throughout Florida – was historic in that it was the largest single-unit mobilization for the Florida National Guard since World War II.