IBOLC updates, retools program of instruction
May 22, 2013
By Nick Duke
FORT BENNING, Ga., (May 22, 2013) -- Soldiers currently working their way through the Infantry Basic Officer Leadership Course were taught a program of instruction that few have seen before.
In January, IBOLC rolled out its new counterinsurgency and stability operations class.
The program shares some similarities with the previous program, but is mostly new material.
"We took a comprehensive look and basically retooled our entire program," said Capt. Paul Cheval, a senior platoon trainer for D Company, 2nd Battalion, 11th Infantry Regiment. "We've refined our cultural instruction and also provided the students with some models that allow them to see what units are currently doing that are allowing them to be successful. It gives them something a little more concrete and in-depth."
The process of updating the course began in October 2012, and was completed in December before rolling out after the start of 2013.
Cheval said one of the reasons for the update was feedback from past IBOLC graduates.
"A lot of it was actually coming from students wanting better instruction on how to conduct operations," Cheval said. "We were teaching a lot of theory and concepts and big picture stuff. We weren't focusing on how a lieutenant could be successful in conducting counter-insurgency operations."
Capt. Timothy Downing, D Company's commander, said the updated course is a hybrid class that uses material taken from a combination of revised Army doctrine and lessons learned during the War on Terror.
"We've continue to develop this program and improve the program, and we're always looking for new ways to take lessons learned and make ourselves better," Downing said.
Downing said this new program will be key in preparing future officers for the evolution of the insurgent threat not only in Iraq and Afghanistan, but also in future conflicts.
"The insurgencies we've experienced so far have continued to evolve, and the threats have continued to evolve," he said. "We are preparing for what we term a hybrid threat. In the future, if we ever go to war with a modern military, there's a potential that after the force-on-force combat, we will be moving into a hybrid threat, where units will break down and you will go into guerilla-type warfare at the platoon and squad level, with the potential to form back up."
One of the biggest changes to the program is the addition of Tactical Conflict Assessment and Planning Framework instruction.
"TCAPF is probably one of the biggest application pieces that we teach to lieutenants," Cheval said. "If I had known about TCAPF or had access to it as a lieutenant, I would have had a much easier time. The counter-insurgency challenge is a human challenge. It's partly tactical, partly social and partly political. TCAPF really allows you to figure out the source of instability in your area, and that's often a challenge for brand new second lieutenants."
Another change focuses on negotiations.
"In negotiations, we talk a lot about how to determine the best alternative to a negotiative agreement," Cheval said. "Basically, if the negotiation completely fails, we teach them to figure out what they can walk away with and just to have that comfort and understanding that negotiations aren't about a position. They're about how both parties can get to a better outcome."
In addition to the classroom instruction, the IBOLC Soldiers will have to take the skills and techniques they have learned and apply them in a variety of training exercises.
"We've taken a two-part approach, where one part is where we introduce them to urban operations, and we go through basic urban operations and how you would move in and around an urban area," Downing said.
"… The second part is next week, when we go into our platoon exercises, including a platoon live fire and then our company attack. Those platoon exercises will focus on some of the concepts that we're teaching them in the actual counterinsurgency classes now."
The exercises will also include the hybrid threats that Downing said will be key to the Army's efforts going forward.
"Most of the platoons will face that insurgent-type small unit fight, and as they progress through the week, the forces that they fight will become more organized, culminating in the company attack, where you have multiple forces coming together to defend a strong point, so that transitions from insurgents back to a more conventional force," he said.