JOINT BASE LEWIS-McCHORD, Wash. - Preparing tomorrow's battlefield leaders for the austere conditions found in forward deployed areas is a tough mission. Preparing the training areas and schedules for the Leader Development and Assessment Course is even tougher.

For the past few months, 1st Battalion, 94th Field Artillery Regiment has been hard at work setting the stage for Warrior Forge 2010.

1-94 FA operations officer Major Ian Bennett said taking on the Warrior Forge mission is a lot like being sent downrange.

"It's a lot like being deployed," Bennett said. "The only difference is that we're not drawing danger pay."

The operational tempo and requirements of processing and facilitating nearly 10,000 ROTC cadets through the summer training program keeps them on their toes, he said.

"The good part is that we did this last year," Bennett said. "So, we know a lot of tips from what made it successful."

Looking over the "Chiclets Chart" - so named because of its color-coded blocks resembling squares of gum - Bennett pointed out how the movement of the cadets would work as 1,000 ROTC trainees show up every four days.

Drawing on experience, things look to be shaping up well, he said.

"Ninety percent of what we do, the cadets will never know about," Bennett said. "Our goal is to make this as seamless as possible."

Warrior Forge puts prospective officers through training that is as much like real field conditions as possible.

First aid, land navigation, U.S. weapons, physical fitness, improvised explosive device recognition, leadership skills and teamwork are addressed in classes and exercises conducted by active, reserve and National Guard cadre.

"This year they are doing a common training scenario," Bennett said.

As part of an Armywide move to standardize training, Warrior Forge is centered on a "combat deployment" to a country that has asked for help.

Stabilizing the government and environment while fighting insurgent enemy forces is a scenario right out of today's headlines, he said.

Tactical training bases of 78 tents, complete with flooring, wire, trash cans, concertina, guard towers and entry-control points are designed to replicate the feel of forward operating bases. The unit also created two assembly areas, staging areas for training that took four days to build.

Alpha Battery Commander Capt. Justin Babcock took the lead in setting up the AAs and TTBs.

"We set up between 18 to 25 tents. The rest will get set up by cadets," Babcock said. "They get to feel it."

Cadets will experience setting up the tents, running concertina wire and preparing the TTB for combat operations, he said.

"You either get good at it real fast or you get hurt," Babcock said.

Babcock said he was grateful for assistance from the 14th Engineer Battalion and Directorate of Logistics.

"We've had a lot to move," Babcock said. "There's been a lot of good teamwork already in putting this together."

Rick Wood is a reporter with Joint Base Lewis-McChord's weekly newspaper, the Northwest Gaurdian.

Page last updated Fri July 22nd, 2011 at 12:16