FORT BLISS, Texas - The huge room in the U.S. Army Reserve center was filled with personnel wearing opposing forces uniforms on Thursday, but none of them looked like the ones usually worn by soldiers in the 2d Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division.
Many of the OPFOR uniforms resembled the tan desert camouflage of the Operation Desert Storm days, were a solid dark blue or some other green camouflage.
All the soldiers had a couple of things in common, though. They were all in the 2/1 AD and part of the opposing force, or Red Team, for the Network Integration Evaluation 14.1, which gets into full swing at Fort Bliss this week.
NIEs are conducted semi-annually by the Network Integration TRIAD, consisting of the U.S. Army Test and Evaluation Command, the Brigade Modernization Command and the System of Systems Engineering and Integration Directorate.
The 2/1 AD is attached to the BMC, which is organized under the Army Capabilities Integration Center, Training and Doctrine Command, to provide feedback on new systems and equipment they are evaluating and testing as part of the Army’s modernization program.
Col. Jay Popejoy, chief of the Brigade Modernization Command’s Threat Support section, is actually assigned to TRADOC’s G-2 Intelligence Support Activity supporting the TRIAD. His responsibility is to ensure the BMC Threat intelligence team, led by Gus Harder, supports the BMC’s G3, Lt. Col. Paul Cravey, in developing the NIE tactical scenario.
The Threat team’s primary mission is preparing the opposing forces for the NIEs that are conducted at Fort Bliss and White Sands Missile Range, N.M.
For NIE 14.1, the OPFOR consists of 2/1 AD soldiers from the 1/1 Cavalry, the 1/6 Infantry, the 1/35 Armor and the Special Troops Battalion. They learn to operate as the Red Team, which will be fighting the Blue Forces (BLUFOR), or “U.S. forces,” for the NIE in combat scenarios played out in as realistic an environment as possible.
According to what they learned during training, they will be representing adversary forces and a hybrid threat of the fictitious countries of Attica and Ellis. The OPFOR will be receiving intelligence to help them perform their mission, which is to disrupt BLUFOR operations and destroy the 2/1 AD military capabilities.
Lt. Col. Lawrence White, who is assigned as the OPFOR commander and as commander of the STB, said, “My goal for the OPFOR task force is to provide a thinking, trained and realistic competitive force. Incorporating this level of opposition provides leaders the ability to provide an accurate and thorough assessment of the systems under test and evaluation and brigade training activities. Furthermore, the NIE provides the opportunity for the 2d Brigade and its soldiers to train on their mission-essential tasks related to an armored brigade combat team mission.”
“As the OPFOR operations officer,” stated Maj. Eric Morton, “it is my job to synchronize the OPFOR side of the live, virtual and constructive environment for this NIE. This is accomplished through detailed planning prior to the start of the NIE, daily synchronization meetings and continuous rehearsals by our companies in the field. In addition, we have three aggressive companies that are looking forward to ‘fighting’ their fellow soldiers and giving 2nd Brigade all the fight they can handle.”
“In regards to the NIEs, as the BMC G3 Threat Planner/Operations officer,” Maj. Ruben Garcia Jr. stated, “we ensure that the locations for the OPFOR Academy get locked in and ensure that the OPFOR is set up for success. The Threat team also provides the Tactical and administrative operation orders that provide the guidance for the OPFOR to execute the mission. During the NIE, my role and responsibility are to ensure that the OPFOR is tracking any changes to the scenarios and basically battle track the movement of the OPFOR.”
During the OPFOR training academy, just prior to the NIE execution, the Threat instructors from TRADOC’s Wargaming, Experimentation, Test and Evaluation Directorate (WETED) told the OPFOR soldiers they would need to change their “mind set to think how the Red Team would fight and act in a manner that supports the operational environment.”
“This training provides the baseline for OPFOR tactics as they fight to win over the opposing forces - training that soon stresses the Blue Forces as they execute the Army’s premier operational test, the NIE. The threat is the actor that creates the environment - a cause and effect relationship,” which is what allows both sides to engage in combat scenarios, Popejoy concluded.