News: ROC Drill prepares leaders for future operations
Story by Spc. Andrew Ingram
CONTINGENCY OPERATING SITE WARRIOR, Iraq – Before the days of slide presentations and desk side computers, military tacticians around the world used maps and models to organize troops and plan future operations. Whether hastily drawn in the dirt or built through the course of several weeks of planning, military leaders use “sand tables” to visualize a concept of when, where and how operations should be conducted.
Using a sand table, a three-dimensional terrain map, leaders from Contingency Operating Site Warrior and U.S. Division-North discussed plans for transitioning troops out of COS Warrior during a rehearsal of concept drill, March 30.
Representatives of units and agencies at the base met with senior leaders to outline a strategy for transferring U.S. bases to Iraqi government control following the withdrawal of U.S. forces deployed in support of Operation New Dawn.
“We conduct drills like this so we can better understand and plan for the mission we have set out to accomplish,” said Maj. Joel Gleason, logistics officer, 1st Advise and Assist Task Force, 1st Infantry Division. “Everyone here today has their own piece of the mission to accomplish, and this drill will help us better understand how our small piece contributes to the whole.”
During the ROC drill, junior leaders took turns demonstrating and explaining planned courses of action using the terrain map as a visual aid to allow senior leaders to collectively conceptualize the planning process and mitigate any conflicts or overlapping lines of effort, said Lt. Col. Scott Nolan, executive officer, 1st AAFT, 1st Inf. Div.
“ROC drills are meant to get everyone on the same page; they keep us in our own lane,” said Nolan. “We could do all of this during a slide show presentation, but the bottom line is this gives us a more accurate understanding of future plans, because you can walk the model and get a visual for what is going to happen.”
Soldiers stood amidst the model’s moving pieces around the massive map board to explain their plans; while senior leaders, including Brig. Gen. James F. Pasquarette, deputy commanding general-support, U.S. Division-North and 4th Infantry Division, and Col. Benjamin Solum, deputy brigade commander, 1st AATF, 1st Inf. Div., interjected with questions, ideas and directives.
Every organization at COS Warrior placed models on the sand table. The U.S. Air Force units added model airplanes and a landing strip replicated by Christmas tree lights. Fire extinguishers peppered the map symbolizing the fire departments, and matchbox cars served as construction equipment and tactical vehicles.
“That’s one of the best things about a ROC drill,” said Staff Sgt. Bruce Harrell, an armor crewmember assigned to Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 1st Special Troops Battalion, 1st AATF 1st Inf. Div., who helped construct the sand table. “I may have started the map, but everybody can add their own pieces to make it more accurate or even just fun.”
Harrell, a native of San Bernardino, Calif., said he started building sand tables in 2002.
Harrell said ROC drills are one of the most effective methods for soldiers to discuss and refine a plan.
“You can talk about an operation all day long, but looking at it visually is so much more effective,” he said. “It just makes it easier to grasp the overall vision of a plan when you can see it with your eyes.”