'Ghost Brigade' Soldiers prepare for future conflicts
JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash. -- Since 1981, military personnel have come and gone through the National Training Center at Fort Irwin, California, to prepare for missions around the world. 

These month-long rotations are usually geared to prepare a unit for an upcoming mission. For the 1-2 Stryker Brigade Combat Team, their May 2016 rotation to NTC was a way to hone in on those key fighting skills as a brigade.

"We jumped on the opportunity to try to build upon what we learned at the last NTC rotation and what we learned during the missions we executed in the Pacific," said Maj. Keith Benedict, the operations officer for 1-2 Stryker Brigade Combat Team. "We are trying to combine lessons learned both from the National Training Center and Pacific Pathways and bring them together during this rotation to experiment further and make our selves better as a unit." 

In January 2016, the "Ghost Brigade" participated in Pacific Pathways, an operation in which units from the brigade were sent to multiple countries in the Pacific, Benedict said. There, the Soldiers worked and trained with their counterparts to build upon each nation's capabilities and to work through interoperability challenges. Pacific Pathways also helped leaders become accustomed to working in different environments around the world.

"While in Thailand, Korea and the Philippines, our Soldiers trained and interacted at the individual, company, and staff level in order to learn how to deploy into that theater with which our brigade is aligned," Benedict said. "This helped build the capabilities and partnerships with those countries and will yield dividends in the event of a humanitarian crisis or any other time our Soldiers may be called upon.

"We have got to make everything a learning environment," he said. "We serve no purpose if we don't understand our operating environment. We must seek every opportunity to challenge our ability to operate in a humanitarian aid, decisive action or combined arms maneuver capacity -- while fighting an adversary, if need be." 
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