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Face of Defense: Soldier Returns to Joint Readiness Training Center After 6 Years

By Army Sgt. Michael Davis New York National Guard

FORT POLK, La., July 29, 2016 — For New York Army National Guard Spc. Joseph Lebeck, his second three-week deployment to the Joint Readiness Training Center here was separated by almost six years and many degrees Fahrenheit.

Lebeck, a logistics noncommissioned officer in Headquarters Company, 1st Battalion, 69th Infantry, arrived at the JRTC July 12.

More than 5,000 soldiers from other state Army National Guard units, as well as active-duty Army and Army Reserve troops, are taking part in the 27th Infantry Brigade Combat Team’s task force.

The July 9-30 training exercise is designed to enable soldiers to hone their skills and practice integrated combat operations ranging from infantry troops engaging in close combat to artillery operations and airstrikes.

Lebeck said he spent his first season at JRTC in the winter of 2009 training for a deployment to Afghanistan.

“The weather was mild, which kept the bugs away and made it easier to train,” Lebeck recalled. “We were preparing for a deployment and [were] glad it wasn’t too hot, yet.”

Training in Hot Weather

This year, the temperatures routinely reach triple digits on the heat index and have already presented Lebeck with a different set of challenges and training obstacles to overcome. Lebeck said he drinks over a gallon of water a day to combat the heat, and has noticed that the soldiers are coping with secondary effects from the extreme heat.

“There’s a series of knock-on effects when it comes to the heat; it affects the soldiers’ morale, their situational awareness and sometimes takes them entirely out of the fight,” Lebeck said.

As hydration remains a constant for both troops and senior leadership, Lebeck’s change from a line company in 2009 to a battalion headquarters position this year has provided him with a broader view.

“The first time I was here I was in a line company and we only saw the small picture -- only what we needed to know and do,” he said. “This year, I’m in a battalion position and get to see more of how units work with each other and how the battle is fought.”

Learning how to endure the extreme heat while practicing battlefield maneuvers at the JRTC helps soldiers not only prepare for future deployment, but also challenges them, Lebeck said.

“Being here pushes people to their limits; teaching them what they can accomplish under adverse conditions,” Lebeck said. “The units earn a higher standard of readiness, while reinforcing what to expect when deployed.”

Lebeck indicated which season he’d rather train in at the JRTC.

“While summer is more realistic training, winter is a lot more comfortable!” he said.

Distribution channels: Military