Jun 9, 2014 7:39 PM by Akeam Ashford
More than 3,300 Louisiana National Guard soldiers from the 256th Infantry Brigade Combat Team are at Camp Shelby, Mississippi for their annual training. Soldiers have set-up mock combat operations, using various weapons systems, small unit maneuvers and communications control systems.
"It's a great moral boost to get these soldiers out here doing what they are actually trained to do," said Medical Commander Beau Armentor.
While at Camp Shelby, soldiers and their equipment are exposed to vulnerabilities similar to what they'd see in Afghanistan or Iraq. Army combat medic Jarod Crowell served with the brigade's field artillery unit during the field training exercise (FTX).
"We're not afraid to train. Whether it is raining or not," Armentor said. "No matter how hot it is, we're out here training."
Crowell said he used this two-week FTX as a chance to brush up on the skills that could save another soldier's life.
"There are a lot of dangers out here, and we try to mitigate them with quick action," Crowell said. "We are big on safety which is one of our keys goals, but like anything else we do, we have to train hard."
As a citizen soldier, Crowell works as a paramedic with Acadian Ambulance. He says he looks forward to the two weeks he gets to spend with fellow soldiers.
"The best thing about our FTX is the camaraderie we gain from sleeping in the woods and working together to complete the mission," Crowell said. "It's not long enough, but we really get to bond and learn about each other which helps if we are deployed."
The brigade last deployed to Iraq in 2010.
Soldiers will complete training this Friday, and will be allowed to go back home.