BCTP celebrates unit anniversary of world-wide mission
September 30, 2010
FORT LEAVENWORTH, KS - On Oct. 1, the Battle Command Training Program (BCTP) celebrates the 24th anniversary of its establishment as the U.S. Army's only worldwide deployable Combat Training Center. Simultaneous with the milestone, BCTP operations groups are completing training missions in Schofield Barracks, Hawaii; Fort Carson, Colo.; the Republic of Korea; and Germany. Soon operations groups will be deploying to Fort Bragg, N.C., and Fort Lewis, Wash., as part of the BCTP's continuous mission of preparing Army units for overseas deployment.
BCTP, which is part of the Army's Combined Arms Center-Training, traces its start date to Oct. 1, 1986 when the program was initiated under Col. David S. Blodgett. BCTP became the capstone of a new Army effort to provide units with realistic and challenging training. The National Training Center in California and the Joint Readiness Training Center in Louisiana already were offering useful experience at the battalion-level, where maneuver and agility were critical. BCTP was created to provide the staffs and commanders of Army brigades, divisions and corps with training for the myriad tasks involving logistics, personnel issues, unit wear and tear, etc. associated with their echelon on the battlefield.
Beginning with just an initial Mobile Training Team, the Battle Command Training Program has evolved into an organization composed of seven operations groups, each of which has a specific training focus. Alpha and Delta provide full-spectrum training to combined-arms formations at the division, corps and army level, Bravo specializes in counterinsurgency operations, while Charlie targets brigade combat team training. Foxtrot prepares specialty brigades (Engineer, Military Police Battlefield Surveillance, etc.) for overseas duty, Sierra concentrates on sustainment units and COE (Contemporary Operational Environment) supports exercises with a realistic and challenging operational environment.
Another key element and a cornerstone of BCTP's success is the Highly Qualified Expert (HQE)/Senior Mentor program, which employs senior retired general officers as experienced leaders at the army, corps and division levels. The HQE program brings immense and essential benefits to BCTP's mission. Based on their extensive senior echelon command experience, HQEs provide the training unit Commander with invaluable mentoring and insights throughout the training exercise. BCTP simply could not provide the counsel or insights without the willingness of senior retired officers to serve as HQEs.
Yet another piece of the puzzle is the role of simulation in the exercises conducted by BCTP. To provide live training for armies, corps and divisions in the field would take huge swathes of land and tens of thousands of Soldiers. This would not only entail great expense but would also be a logistical nightmare as transportation assets would have to be utilized to move Army units across the country. Instead, the National Simulation Center at Fort Leavenworth, Kan., generates data in a simulated environment to track the actions, losses, supply needs and locations of various units. This frees up higher headquarters commanders and staff members being trained to make decisions, which ultimately is their role in combat.
Most uniformed BCTP members are field grade officers who typically have extensive experience as staff members in a combat environment. Applying the "Marshall Approach" for developing the professional talents of trainers, BCTP members are a natural reservoir of Army talent, one that was tapped during Operation Desert Shield and the planning that led to Operation Iraqi Freedom. In both cases, BCTP members were forward-deployed overseas to assist in planning and often found themselves in critical staff positions when combat operations began.
In June 2010, the Battle Command Training Program was recognized with the U.S. Army's Superior Unit Award. Awarded for 2007-2008, the honor recognizes the unique challenges BCTP has overcome in preparing units for overseas duty. Appropriately enough, the Superior Unit Award lapel pin may be worn by both Army Soldiers and civilians. Civilians represent a significant percentage of BCTP's manpower.
After 24 years of success, the Battle Command Training Program does not rest on its laurels. The anniversary of BCTP's inception sees Opsgroup Bravo in Hawaii preparing for a counterinsurgency seminar, Opsgroups Delta and COE also in Hawaii completing a Mission Rehearsal Exercise with the 25th Infantry Division and Opsgroup Charlie preparing for a brigade warfighter exercise in the Republic of Korea. Additionally, Opsgroup Foxtrot is just wrapping up a Military Police brigade seminar in Hawaii and preparing for a Fires brigade seminar at Fort Hood, and Opsgroups Alpha and Sierra are ready to deploy in support of a corps-level exercise at Fort Bragg and Fort Lewis.
As the sun sets where you are in the world on Oct. 1, please take time to reflect on contributions of the Battle Command Training Program over the past 24 years. Be assured that the Soldiers, DAC and supporting contract team are continuing to fulfill its mission and uphold the proud tradition of the Army's only world-wide deployable Combat Training Center.
Based at Fort Leavenworth, Kan., the U.S. Army's Battle Command Training Program (BCTP) provides training for commanders and staffs so they can fight and win in a wide spectrum of warfighting environments. The directorate provides experienced and knowledgeable trainers employing sophisticated simulations to maximize unit readiness. BCTP is part of the Combined Arms Center-Training (CAC-T), which delivers training programs, products and services to leaders and units in support of Army readiness. Wherever Army training occurs, the Combined Arms Center-Training helps make it happen. To learn more about BCTP and CAC-T, visit http://usacac.army.mil/cac2/cac-t.