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    ‘Bad Guys’ team up with National Guard for Training

    Distinguished visitors gather at Camp Williams for Cyber Shield 17

    Photo By Staff Sgt. Matthew Ard | Maj. Gen. Don Dunbar watches the screen of a cyber forensics trainee during the Cyber...... read more read more

    HOHENFELS, Germany – They call them the “Men in Black,” referring to the all-black tactical uniforms they wear. More formally called the Opposition Force, or OPFOR, Soldiers with the 1-4 Infantry Battalion pose as enemy combatants during training here. The 1-4 is an independent element able to set its own rules of engagement and be as merciless as it need to win the fight. Still, regardless of their “dark” methods during battle, even the “bad-guys” want friends.

    OPFOR teamed up with the Soldiers from the Texas, Michigan and North Dakota National Guards, along with Slovenian and Latvian service members, to invade the fictional country of Atropia and defend against NATO forces as part of Exercise Swift Response 16 at the Joint Multinational Readiness Center, May 27-June 26, 2016.

    “It’s a huge help having them here,” said Cpt. Erik Prince, with the 1-4 headquarters. “Usually they outnumber us two to one. We would not have the combat power to fight without them.”

    The exercise is one of the premier military training events for multinational airborne units. The training enhances the readiness of the 82nd Airborne's 1st Brigade Combat Team to conduct rapid-response, joint forcible entry and follow-on operations alongside European Allies.

    “To work with other countries is a big opportunity,” said Prince. “The fact that we can train on that scale between different countries is impressive.”

    During the exercise, the 1-4 portrayed the fictional Arianan Army. In attempts to defeat the NATO forces, the OPFOR conducted assault missions, provided security to the local population, and even captured enemy soldiers. With help from the additional soldiers, they placed barricades and mine fields throughout the battlefield.

    “When you fight in a real conflict, you never fight with just your organic unit; there’s always detachments,” said Prince. “There’s a lot stuff they can teach us, and we also get to practice our systems to see how we integrate an outside unit.”

    The realistic environment introduces many real-world problems during training. It pushes Soldiers to exchange knowledge across different military components and nations to complete their objective. The diversity in skills and procedures makes for a stronger OPFOR, but also lets the Soldiers have fun with a little healthy competition.

    “It’s always good to get around those active duty guys to see if those myths hold up. ‘Is active better than Guard?’ It’s all ‘one team, one fight’ at the end of the day,” said Staff Sgt. Johnson, 1433rd Engineer Company, Michigan National Guard. “We’re living in the same barracks, and we’re just playing off of each other. Simple tasks such as placing mines, they had an ingenuous way of implementing them that hides any telltale signs that the dirt was disturbed.”

    The multinational partners and Guardsmen had the opportunity to take away much of what they experienced here, and the 1-4 can appreciate the knowledge they left behind.

    “We got guys that are paramedics, mechanics and police officers. We even have doctors working with us, said Johnson. “When one man can train the other man can teach. All those pull together and amplify the military skillset.”

    “I learned to get along with a lot of different types of people,” said Spc. Hunter Erhart, infantryman with the 1-4.“I made a lot of good friends here.”



    Date Taken: 06.22.2016
    Date Posted: 06.24.2016 11:27
    Story ID: 202364
    Location: DE

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