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The quiet valleys and rugged hills of the military training base halfway between Los Angeles and San Francisco echoed this month with the roar of heavy trucks and the bustling presence of thousands of U.S. Army Reserve soldiers gathered from all over the country for combat support training.

The exercise at Fort Hunter Liggett is designed to give soldiers the chance to practice job skills in an environment designed to simulate Afghanistan. For some units, it is the last training event before they deploy to Afghanistan, while others are taking advantage of the exercise to brush up on skills.

For the two Montana units, the training covers both sides of the spectrum.

The 592nd Ordnance Company, whose job includes managing ammunition inventories and issuing ammo in combat zones, took this opportunity to ensure newer soldiers are up to speed on both the equipment and the software they will use when deployed to Afghanistan this fall.

“It will help us hit the ground running,” said Warrant Officer Dan Flynn, a Belgrade native. “The software we use for all ammunition documentation is not user friendly. People need experience to use it properly.”

“We’ve got some soldiers who had never seen the system before who now don’t even need any help with it,” he said.

The soldiers also trained on the equipment they will use once in Afghanistan, much of which is not available during normal weekend drills. Spc. Michael Lee Arndt of Great Falls, who began his Army career as a wheeled-vehicle mechanic, helped conduct driver’s training and also helped teach soldiers more about their vehicles.

“I know a lot about the mechanical side, so I helped people understand their vehicles and how to prolong the life of the vehicles they drive,” he said. “It helps the guys who are fresh in the military, but it helped me learn how to lead soldiers as well, even though I was instructing. This is a good unit. If someone is weak in one area, someone else steps in to pick up the slack. We help each other out.”

Source: Read more of Dan West’s (sergeant in the Army Reserve’s 358th Public Affairs Detachment) article at Great Falls Tribune.

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