Thousands of soldiers at JRTC for combat training

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FORT POLK, La. (KALB) - More than 5,000 National Guard troops are at Fort Polk’s Joint Readiness Training Center this month.

Photo Credit: KALB

The 86th Infantry Brigade Combat Team Mountain is a long way from their home base over in Vermont. They made up about 2,000 of the troops receiving combat training.

2nd Lieutenant Madailein Blaney just joined the 572nd Brigade Engineer Battalion. She said JRTC is a direct application of what she learned in the Basic Officer Leaders Course (BOLC).

“It's really getting you prepared because for a while, it's been very easy to be like 'okay we're here, we safe on this fob',” Blaney explained. “But now in this new near-peer threat, we are not safe in this fob, we are here in the enemies’ territory and we have to be very aware of that."

The training is about the bigger picture. JRTC combines all the moving parts of a brigade in a simulated combat environment.

Brigadier General Gregory Knight, the Adjutant General for the Vermont National Guard, said this is where mistakes can be made.

“Whether it's here or in TC, you make yourself better in this type of challenging environment,” Knight said. “Because, the more you train here, and the more you learn, the less you’re going to learn more painfully, overseas in a real conflict."

The last time the 86th was at JRTC was in 2014. The unit will be deployable by 2020.

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