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    The enemy within: Soldiers battle each other

    The enemy within: Soldiers battle each other

    Photo By Sgt. 1st Class Corinna Baltos | CINCU, Romania – A tank from 1st Battalion, 163rd Infantry Regiment, Montana Army...... read more read more

    CINCU, Romania – In war there is always us and them; the good guys and the bad guys. During military training exercises, the United States trains as it fights, so there’s a need for bad guys, or at least actors, to fight. How does the U.S. Army do that? They use Americans, who pretend to be the enemy or opposing forces (OPFOR).

    While the U.S. military has entire units dedicated as OPFOR at its major training centers, at smaller training venues and exercises, the unit being evaluated often assigns a team or section from its organization to serve as the enemy. During training, the “bad guys” are called OPFOR, and the “good guys” are referred to as Blue Forces, or BLUEFOR.

    Exercise Saber Guardian 16, which takes place through Aug. 7 at the Romanian Land Force Combat Training Center, relies on OPFOR to test the combat readiness of the U.S. and nine other NATO and partner nations. At the center of the tactical evaluation is the 116th Cavalry Brigade Combat Team (CBCT) from the Idaho Army National Guard. For the role of OPFOR, the 116th CBCT chose its Montana Army National Guard team with Companies B and D (i.e., Bravo, Delta), 1st Battalion, 163rd Infantry Regiment.

    “This is kind of neat for our unit,” said 1st Sgt. Mathew Kemp, Company D, 1-163 Infantry. “This is the first time the National Guard has been asked to conduct Saber Guardian as the OPFOR, and for them to call on the state of Montana it means a lot to us, it makes us proud. We take a lot of pride where we are from, and to come here and provide a legitimate challenge to the BLUEFOR for this mission is challenging and rewarding,” he said. “We are proud for our unit and proud for our state.”

    The OPFOR has a very specific job.

    “The OPFOR’s job is to ensure that the training objectives and collective tasks for the BLUEFOR have been met and they are adequately trained,” said Master Sgt. Harley Lysons, the operations noncommissioned officer for 116th CBCT. Put simply, this means the OPFOR must go somewhere and lay in wait for the BLUEFOR to come to them.

    As part of the training, the BLUEFOR move through the Romanian military testing grounds within the surrounding farming area around Cincu. Their mission is to find and engage the OPFOR during situational training exercises. On this particular day, Delta Company was the OPFOR.

    One company against a battalion is like a modern day David vs. Goliath. Since they knew they would be outnumbered, it was important they got out early before dawn to find the most strategic ambush positions and lie in wait.

    “The OPOR is always the smaller force,” said Kemp. “We want to replicate the three-to-one combat power advantage that you want when you engage the enemy, so the BLUEFOR is always numerically superior, which means we have to be creative.”

    Kemp’s Soldiers agreed with their first sergeant.

    “We want the BLUEFOR to approach us,” said Sgt. Daniel Crocker, Company D, 1-163 Infantry, as he prepared to head out to the lanes. “We need to find a defensive position, preferably one that overlooks the most likely avenue of approach, and then we wait for them to get into the kill zone. Once that happens, we lay on the hate,” he said with a smile.

    To maximize their effectiveness, the OPFOR chose a ridge line with a commanding view of the valley below. The early morning hours meant a true fog of war with the valley covered by a thick blanket of fog. They knew the fog would quickly burn off, so they used the time they had to hide their vehicles.

    “Ridgelines are great for being able to see the whole battlefield,” said Spc. Jeff Martin, Company D, 1-163 Infantry. “However, everyone can see you as well, so we have to hide in the tree line and use branches and mud to camouflage our tanks.”

    After hiding their vehicles, the Delta Company Soldiers continued to wait for their enemy; an enemy that may never come. Yet they wait. Such is the life of OPFOR.



    Date Taken: 07.30.2016
    Date Posted: 07.31.2016 11:07
    Story ID: 205604
    Location: CINCU, RO

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