News: 1/24IN conducts digital defense exercise
By 1st Lt. Mackenzie Eason
A Company, 1-24 IN Executive Officer
FORT WAINWRIGHT, Alaska - Platoon and company leadership from 1st Battalion, 24th Infantry Regiment, 1st Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division, participated in a digital defense exercise in Yukon Training Area, Alaska, Sept. 18-26.
The weeklong event focused on planning for a defensive operation of approximately 120 soldiers against a larger opposing force. Capt. Tadd Lahnert, A Company, 1-24 IN commander, began eight-step, troop-leading procedures after receiving an operations order with A Company’s tasks. TLPs are a process by which leaders at company and platoon levels develop and distribute a plan. At the end of the day, the commander was prepared to issue an operations order to platoon leaders and platoon sergeants who would then conduct their own TLPs.
“This is a great opportunity to challenge the planning skills of the platoon leadership and develop proficiency at a task that they will have to execute on a daily basis during a combat rotation,” said Lahnert, a native of Colorado Springs, Colo. “For many of the platoon leaders this is their first serious exposure to large scale defensive operations. “
Many of the platoon leaders found planning for indirect fire from artillery and mortar assets to be challenging.
“Any opportunity we have to work closely with maneuver elements to plan for indirect fire is a huge plus. We’ve got a lot of new [forward observers] attached to the platoons and most of them have never had to do this level of planning before,” said 2nd Lt. Will Sanders, A Company fire support officer, and Marquette, Mich., native. “When we deploy, the FOs will be responsible for planning and then calling mortar and artillery targets that are crucial to the success of the platoon’s mission. It’s great for them to be able to make mistakes and learn from them now in a training environment instead of when soldiers’ lives are on the line.”
Once the platoons issued their plans the company then began rehearsing on the Joint Conflict and Tactical Simulation at Fort Wainwright’s Mission Training Complex. The JCATS system allowed company and platoon leadership to put a plan into action on a virtual battle space that replicates what they might see in real life. This enabled leaders to test certain aspects of their plan with minimal resourcing and manpower requirements.
The culminating event of the digital defense exercise required Lanhert to coordinate efforts over FM radio and digital communications through the JCATS system with B Company, located at YTA.
A platoon from B Company then conducted a live-fire offensive operation against an enemy force at YTA based on real-time information from A Company. This real-time coordination and relaying of information demonstrated the value that integrating live and digital training can add to training for 1-24 IN soldiers.