FORT IRWIN, Calif. — To maximize the training opportunities available through a rotation at the National Training Center at Fort Irwin, the 1st Cavalry Division brought its division headquarters to train simultaneously with 3rd “Greywolf” Brigade Combat Team.
About 5,000 soldiers traveled from Fort Hood earlier this month to the isolated California post to conduct a decisive action training rotation — the Army’s newest doctrine to prepare its force for the future of warfighting.
For the past week, 3rd Brigade soldiers have been operating within the 1,200 square miles of training grounds known as “the box.”
Sunday’s training focused on defensive tactics against the training center’s opposing force, known as the “contemporary operating environment force.”
“With an active enemy against us, it makes the training so much better,” said Brig. Gen. Thomas James, the division’s deputy commander for maneuver, Sunday evening from the division’s mission command post set up outside of the box.
From the mission command post, division leadership oversees the very real Greywolf brigade, but also seven other simulated brigades — similar to how a division headquarters would operate in combat, said Lt. Col. Chip Daniels, the division’s assistant chief of staff for operations.
“NTC provides good opportunities to get the division away from Fort Hood to exercise command systems,” he said.
Due to steady deployments, the division hasn’t conducted this type of training in many years, he added.
Lt. Col. Carter Price, the division’s deputy assistant chief of staff for operations, said he wants the unit to focus on system integration.
Over the past 10 years, he said the Army has gone from wavelength radio to satellite
communications, which allows everyone to see a common operations picture.
Commanders can see their assets and information from the battlefield instantly. The technology has been there, but not utilized in this way because the Army hasn’t conducted force-on-force combat since about 2003, Price said.
“It doesn’t seem revolutionary, but it’s the first time for us to use this in a decisive action rotation,” he said.
The amount of information now available can sometimes become cumbersome, so the other key aspect of headquarters’ training is learning how to take all this information and determine what’s important, what is noise and what the commander needs to make an informed decision,
A common phrase used at the command post is, “If you’re not communicating, you’re camping,” Price said.
The training rotation will end this week and soldiers will be back at Fort Hood by mid-February.
Then, James said, it will be time to review their take-home packages and create a program to continue toward mission readiness.
“The Army has evolved by first looking at the future operating environment, and realizing how complex it is, because we’re doing multiple things simultaneously,” he said. “We identified we have to build agile and adaptive leaders for that future environment. We have to tailor our training programs for that.”