Author’s note: this is the second in a multi-part series following the 2-108th Cavalry Squadron of the Louisiana National Guard as the unit prepares for its rotation at the Joint Readiness Training Center (JRTC), at Fort Polk, LA. Each piece will tell a different part of the unit’s story, and give readers a glimpse into how National Guard units prepare for war. Read Part I here.

As leaders at the Squadron level rush to ensure their soldiers are compliant with all of the administrative requirements, leadership at the troop level is equally concerned with preparing their soldiers to be successful at the upcoming JRCT rotation.

“We’re really working on field craft skills this year,” says HHT First Sergeant Brandon Lee. 1SG Lee is a presence: well over six-feet tall, built like a powerlifter, with a shiny bald head and intense gaze. He’s one of the more intimidating men I’ve ever met. He’s also one of the most kind and down to earth people I know, and I find myself talking to him about challenges in my personal life a few minutes into my interview with him. He has a way of making you feel comfortable and relaxed and you can’t help but like the guy. As a 21 year veteran of the National Guard, 1SG Lee is also one of the more experienced soldiers in the Squadron.

“A lot of the Soldiers, especially the ones whose occupational specialty isn’t in combat arms, don’t have much experience living and operating outside in the field,” said 1SG Lee. He goes on to explain that since the GWOT, the Army has focused on training for counterinsurgency operations and “FOB warfare.” As a result, critical field craft skills — once the mainstay of Army training — have fallen by the wayside.