National Guard Prepares for Training Exercises


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WEYERS CAVE, Va. (WHSV) -- You may have seen some larger-than-normal planes in the sky Monday morning.

They were military C-130s, carrying members of the Virginia National Guard to a training exercise.

Three of the planes left the Shenandoah Valley Regional Airport on Monday morning with about 150 soldiers from the Virginia National Guard on board.

The planes taking off are taking a three-hour flight to Kansas, all for battle exercises to get them ready for combat.

"This is what gets our brigade ready to go to war," said Col. John Epperly, who commands the 116th brigade combat team based in Staunton.

He said exercises like this one are about being ready when and if the soldiers are needed during their deployment rotation.

"It's a major checkpoint on our path to be ready to go sometime during the 2016-2017 time period. It makes sure the brigade is proficient and ready for rapid, worldwide deployment," said Epperly.

The planes touched down at Fort Leavenworth in Kansas. There the troops will train on a warfighter exercise, learning to work with other staffs in a battle situation.

"It's not just about buying the equipment and being proficient on the equipment. It's about making sure the people are able to do their jobs. And this kind of training is absolutely critical to meeting those mission requirements," said Epperly

Their current exercise in Kansas will last for two weeks. The brigade has another exercise next month at Fort Pickett in Blackstone, Va.


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