FORT DRUM, NY, UNITED STATES
FORT DRUM, N.Y. - The early morning silence on Fort Drum’s range 23 was shattered by machine gun fire that tore through the air as Soldiers assigned to C Company, 4th Battalion, 31st Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, and British soldiers assigned to C Company, 1 Rifles, 160 (Wales) Brigade, Gloucestershire, U.K., assaulted a notional enemy village March 27.
Soldiers from both armies struck the objective in unison, separating regular and irregular enemy fighters from the local population, while securing enemy strong holds during a culminating exercise in conclusion of Operation Commando Rattlesnake.
Rattlesnake was a three week long joint unit exercise allowing the exchange of lessons on training practices, identifying areas of improvement between U.S. and U.K. interoperability, and to validate live, virtual, and constructive integration architecture for the U.S. Army.
“This exercise combines actual training with subordinate units that are providing simulated training using computers and mock up simulations,” said U.S. Army Maj. Justin C. Jocuns, knowledge management officer, Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 2nd Brigade Combat Team. “It allows battalions to go through all of their battle drills, and use all of their products to see how they would perform, while managing information for their commanders.”
Amid military spending cuts, live and virtual training is at the forefront of less expensive large scale unit training.
“It ties into a period of time when the Army is going to be transitioning, we know our budget constraints will be increased,” stated Jocuns. “This training lets us be very good stewards of government resources. For less cost we can maintain and improve on our readiness as a unit here.”
Battle captain, 1st Lt. Eugene Lee, 66th Combat Aviation Brigade, explains that in addition to cost efficiency and improved readiness, time is saved by using virtual and live training.
“For Army Aviation every one hour of ‘blade time’ there is normally four hours of maintenance time associated with that. In terms of that aspect we are saving a lot of time for the maintenance crew chiefs that are working on the aircraft.”
“In a simulator we turn it on, load the mission, fly the mission, power down the computer, debrief and you’re finished,” Lee continued.
During this operation, Lee and his soldiers provided U.S. and U.K. ground force commanders with real time battle field updates, increasing reaction time to developing hostile situations.
“Being able to access our interoperability and developing that alongside our American brothers in arms, in this unique arctic tundra environment, increases our adaptability to operate in all environments around the world,” said U.K. Capt. Joshua Axford, platoon commander. “Getting a feel for the differences and similarities between our forces, rank structure, and operations will help us work seamlessly if we ever work together again.”
With increased North Atlantic Treaty Organization ran missions, meeting in a combat environment is most likely.
“I think in the future most operations will be conducted as part of a NATO force, it is unlikely that any nation will go to war on their own anymore,” said U.K. Lt. Jack Brown. “We need to be able to operate together and realize our tactics fit in with the American tactics and the American tactics and doctoring fits in with our own. It’s important to go out on an exercise and experience this first hand.”
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This work, 4-31, 1 Rifles conduct joint training operation, by SSG Mark A Moore II, identified by DVIDS, is free of known copyright restrictions under U.S. copyright law.