120924-A-CJ112-373FORT HOOD, Texas – Capt. Duncan Walker, a battle captain for the 2nd Brigade Combat Team’s “Black Jack,” 1st Cavalry Division, training exercise, Operation Black Jack Saddle Up, communicates with the 1st Battalion, 5th Cavalry Regiment, 2nd BCT, about daily reports during the training exercise here, Sept. 24. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Quentin Johnson, 2BCT, 1st Cav Div PAO)

(U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Quentin

For almost a decade, the Army’s concept of a combined multifarious training exercise is now being tested for the first time at Fort Hood.

The 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division is first to be given the opportunity to utilize a new training concept called Live, Virtual and Constructive — Integrated Architecture, during a training exercise titled “Operation Black Jack Saddle Up.”

Through the month of September, the Black Jack brigade will conduct, in stages, a first-use assessment to determine the strength, capabilities and changes needed of the training system.

The training system is designed to integrate multiple separate training concepts Army units utilize to prepare them for combat operations, into one larger exercise, said Lt. Col. Shane Cipolla, director of the U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command project office integrated architecture, Fort Leavenworth, Kan.

“In the past, units would use ‘blended training’ — exercises using simulators, virtual trainers and live-fire exercises but at different times and stages, and with added costs,” Cipolla said. “The (new system) will allow units, such as a brigade, to incorporate all those training concepts into one exercise simultaneously with less costs.”

With most training in the Army utilizing a lot of time and materials on multiple events, cost and personnel support can be a difficulty.

“As units use the (system) and train at a true multi-level echelon, you save on additional costs, materials and time,” Cipolla added.

Black Jack Commander, Col. Robert Whittle Jr., said he was thankful his brigade has first opportunity to use the system and assess its effectiveness.

“We will have a chance to combine training events with mission command operations,” Whittle said.

“(The system) will allow the brigade to train on things it normally wouldn’t train on during the same exercise, such as planning, and command and control,” said Maj. Mark Huhtanen, Black Jack’s operation officer. “It will afford soldiers throughout eight of the brigade’s companies to train simultaneously for high intensity conflicts.”

Cipolla said thus far, Black Jack has offered good feedback on the strengths and limitations of the system, in what he calls a “true user assessment.”

Whittle agreed by adding that he has full confidence in his staff to objectively and accurately assess the system.

Exercises are scheduled for completion the first week in October with other versions of the system to be added in the future, Cipolla said.

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