By Maj. Chad Carroll
4th Infantry Division public affairs
The leaders of the 4th Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division kicked off the brigade’s National Training Center rotation on Oct. 28 at Fort Irwin, Calif. when they underwent their Leader Training Program training.
The LTP is designed to train commanders and staffs in appropriate planning procedures before soldiers arrive on the ground at NTC.
The brigade leaders met their coaches — a group of military and civilian trainers known as the “Wrangler Team.”
Col. Philip Battaglia, brigade commander, provided his guidance to his battalion commanders and staff personnel at the onset of the week-long program.
“This is a tremendous training opportunity,” he said. “Allow these great coaches to lead you through some other ways to do things; to offer you some new ideas.”
He was also candid about the rigorous planning timeline for the LTP week.
“Are you going to be stressed? Absolutely — it’s supposed to be that way,” he said, in explaining the value of LTP in terms of the dividends it will pay the brigade when they deploy to Iraq in summer 2008.
The brigade staff first received a plan from the Wranglers, with which they had to quickly produce a brigade plan. The Wranglers consistently injected changes and updates, which tested the staff’s ability to plan and adapt.
Intertwined in the brigade’s planning cycle were several opportunities for Battaglia and the battalion commanders to interact with the NTC’s role players, who simulate the Iraqi provincial governor and Iraqi army leadership. The role players at NTC include several key positions that replicate those in Iraq: governors, chairmen, military commanders and police chiefs.
The role-playing Provincial Governor hosted a dinner for the brigade and battalion commanders Oct. 30, which provided them the opportunity to train on Arab cultural engagement skills. Key training opportunities during the week also included commanders engaging Arabic and international media role players.
“It was a very valuable media session,” said Lt. Col. Tim Norton, 4th Special Troops Battalion commander. “It was good practice with some pretty tough questions.”
Brig. Gen. Dana Pittard, commanding general of the NTC and Fort Irwin, met with the LTP participants and explained the extent to which NTC trainers go to replicate the conditions in Iraq.
“I recently came back from Iraq,” said Pittard, “and after seeing some of the towns there, I recognized some of our (NTC) towns looked like Iraq two years ago — but maybe not like Iraq today.”
As a result of his visit, Pittard has since implemented minor changes to update the NTC environment so it is as realistic as possible.