News: Creative home station training ups the ante on mitigating thru SubTO
Story by Lt. Col. Sonise Lumbaca
FORT GEORGE G. MEADE, Md.—When members of the U.S. Asymmetric Warfare Group aren’t embedded with units and providing operational advisory support through first-hand observations to units deployed or prepping for deployments, they are seeking ways to mitigate friendly capability gaps and or exploiting enemy tactics, techniques and procedures. One example is an initiative that involves developing and disseminating TTPs and ultimately an Army Techniques Publication on subterranean operations for the Army.
Each week, Able Squadron conducts a complex training event that creatively utilizes home station facilities to get at the subterranean problem set. These training events assess and validate various TTPs by the squadron and contributes to an overall collaborative Group effort that began in May during the Army’s Network Integration Evaluation 13.2; and subsequently the AWG’s Subterranean Risk Reduction Exercise held at Fort A.P. Hill, Va., in September highlighting subterranean warfare and confined space training.
“Today’s training event consisted of a climbing wall of about four stories (up one side of our rappel tower), a slack rappel down the opposite side, traversing a one rope bridge (using multiple techniques), a Kim’s game, and then moving a casualty through a subterranean environment,” said Master Sgt. Bill Tomlin III, the 2 Troop sergeant major for Able Squadron and an AWG Operational Adviser. “The overall concept was to imitate and negotiate multiple obstacles during subterranean operations.”
In addition to getting at the subterranean problem set, the squadron focused on using home station assets and using minimal equipment during a time when the Army is limited on its budget.
“What we are demonstrating here is the ability to get at a problem set while conducting low cost or no cost training with what’s available to Army units,” said Capt. Justin D. Carlton, the commander of 2 Troop, Able Squadron and an operational adviser for the AWG. “By exercising a degree of creativity in using internal assets for multiple purposes, and our own soldiers to train with equipment that most units have, we are demonstrating that units can still execute a high caliber of training at home station with very little overhead. And we were able to put together today’s training event in less than an hour and a half.”
Carlton said that he unit was able to conduct the training for a group of about forty soldiers with only eight members of his squadron.
“Most of the techniques that we use in subterranean (operations) are derived from other types of operations such as urban or mountainous terrain. When you are working underground, you end up running into vertical shafts that you have to crawl up or lower people down into, and that applies for climbing ropes, rappelling, and we have integrated those things (during our weekly training events) so that when we get into the subterranean environment were prepared for it,” Carlton said.
This preparedness includes disseminating the validated TTPs to other Army units as well.
“All of the (events) here were designed to replicate and reinforce TTPs and (standard operational procedures), that we developed during the subterranean risk reduction exercise (hosted by AWG in September), the interesting part is that most of the soldiers that are out here training right now haven’t seen these standard operating procedures before. So this is the first time they are negotiating these obstacles using these SOPs and TTPs, and that’s how we’ve incorporated adaptability into the training,” said Tomlin.
Another goal of the training events is to develop esprit de corps within the unit, Carlton said.
“We’re able to build camaraderie across the Group. We have an extremely high (operational tempo), and many of our unit members going in different directions, so you don’t always get to meet and work with certain people,” Carlton said. “When we do these events, our unit members come together and we break them up into different teams so that individuals end up in teams with people they normally don’t get to work closely with on a regular basis.”
“(This training) was very, very educational. (The events are) harder than (they) look; extremely harder than (they) look,” said Staff Sgt. Martha Chavez, a supply specialist for the AWG who participated in the training event for the first time. “(Our operational advisers) are really tough and are very helpful in every way.”
AWG operational advisers are teamed up with operational support and staff members and use their experiences to assists with completing a task that usually involves ascending, descending or traversing a high obstacle or critically and creatively thinking through the best method to transport a liter under austere conditions for example.
The additional benefit to this method of training incorporates cross leveling of varied expertise and experiences throughout the teams that they can tap into and learn from; a method he would like to see across the Army, Carlton said.
“The Army is putting a lot of emphasis on resiliency training and adaptability is a big part of that. So we’re not training people on how to do a particular event, we’re teaching them skills that can be applied to a number of different problem sets. Just using these training tools from urban operations and climbing, and adapting them to subterranean, that’s our overall end state to make sure that our Operational Advisors are more adaptable and we want to push that out to the Army along with the low cost training,” Carlton said.
The AWG provides operational advisory and Solution Development support globally to the Army and Joint Force Commanders to enhance soldier survivability and combat effectiveness, and enable the defeat of current and emerging threats in support of Unified Land Operations. It is the operational arm for the Training and Doctrine Command.