News: ‘Raiders’ build cohesion during Warfighter
Story by Pfc. Andrew Ingram
FORT CARSON, Colo. – Soldiers assigned to 1st Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, built staff cohesion and bolstered their knowledge of Decisive Action operations during the Warfighter training exercise, on Fort Carson, Aug. 13-22.
During the 10-day exercise, brigade and battalion staffs received orders from a notional division headquarters, planned missions through the military decision making process and directed simulated forces on the battlefield.
“The purpose of this exercise is to integrate the staff and get them working together and functioning as a team to support the commander’s decision making process during combat operations,” said Maj. Robert Walker, fire support officer, 1st BCT, 4th Inf. Div. “Any time you put people in an environment where they can learn together, it builds cohesion,”
“It’s been a crucible of an exercise,” Walker said. “We’re being pushed hard, we have to work fast; but it’s been a great teambuilding experience for a lot of our soldiers. We’ve found out a lot about ourselves individually and about our processes as a staff.”
Exercise facilitators from the Mission Command Training Program at Fort Leavenworth, Kan., who developed the training scenario, mentored Raider leaders, providing a constant stream of suggestions throughout the exercise.
The scenario focused on a large-scale operation to defend a fictional country from an outside aggressor.
Walker explained the scenario presented an interesting challenge for the Raider soldiers, most of whom have spent their entire careers combating insurgent threats in Afghanistan or Iraq, rather than conventional forces.
“The facilitators simulate, down to the company and platoon level, what our soldiers are doing on the battlefield,” Walker said. The simulations provide feedback for the planning process and help identify holes in the planning and where processes can be improved.
The Warfighter exercise took place on a small training area cordoned off by concertina wire. Raider headquarters and each of the brigade’s battalions set up their Tactical Operations Centers in large tents, keeping all of the staff sections in a centralized location, simulating a deployed environment.
“A lot of the brigade staff is new, so keeping us in such tight quarters helped us communicate,” Walker said. “Most of the primary staff officers are still getting to know their noncommissioned officers and soldiers. It is very important to do this before any upcoming deployment or rotation to the National Training Center, because it helps us understand how our folks work together, where we can make improvements and where we can build on success.”
Even soldiers who have served together for months or years benefited from the training, said Pfc. Jonathan Soto, infantryman, headquarters and headquarters Company, 1st BCT.
“I was friends with a lot of the people on staff before this, but during the exercise, I learned how to actually work with them,” said Soto, who works as an operations assistant, is tasked with monitoring operations on the battlefield. “I may have known somebody for a long time, but never had to work directly with them, so this has definitely been a learning experience for all of us.”
At the battalion level, new staff soldiers learned how their specific duties affected their unit’s mission as a whole.
“We have a few new guys straight from Advanced Individual Training, and this is the first exercise where they got to see how intelligence works during deployment,” said Sgt. 1st Class Joe Green, intelligence analyst, Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 7th Squadron, 10th Cavalry Regiment, 1st BCT. “I think it really gave them a better understanding of what to expect.”
One of Green’s soldiers, Sgt. Gabriel Brown, intelligence analyst, Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 7th Sqdn., 10th Cav. Regt., stressed the importance of new soldiers becoming comfortable working with other troops outside of their career field.
“Coming from AIT, you learn how to do your job, but you don’t know how to communicate and work with other [staff] sections, so coming out to warfighter teaches, our young soldiers especially, how to work with current operations, aviation and all of the other sections,” Brown said. “Even something as simple as getting a broken computer fixed can get complicated if you don’t know who to give it to.”
The Brigade made excellent strides toward becoming a cohesive and effective fighting force during Warfighter, said Green.
Raider soldiers participated in Warfighter in preparation for a rotation to the National Training Center at Fort Irwin, Calif., this fall.
“The great thing about this exercise is we brought all the equipment out, we brought all of our soldiers out, and we found what works and what doesn’t,” Green said. “We’ve improved on a lot of things these past couple of weeks, and when we get to NTC, I’m certain my soldiers will be ready for whatever they throw at us.”