12 NATO nations join Guard for 'Bold Quest'
September 28, 2011
EDINBURGH, Ind. (Army News Service, Sept. 28, 2011) -- Indiana National Guard Soldiers with the 2nd Battalion, 151st Infantry Regiment, along with 700 foreign troops took part in Bold Quest 2011, a multinational exercise at Camp Atterbury Training Center held Sept. 8-23.
Led by a joint staff, Bold Quest served as a military coalition combat assessment exercise designed to test the interoperability of target identification systems of 12 NATO member nations. The goal was to reduce friendly fire incidents.
According to John Miller, Bold Quest operational manager, the exercise brought together forces from coalition nations to analyze and test equipment and training practices in order to facilitate better communication between joint forces operating in the same area while minimizing friendly fire incidents as much as possible.
This year's Bold Quest exercise stands out as the first to involve heavy support from National Guard units, many times role-playing as opposing forces in scenarios that pitted them against military forces from all over the world so that equipment could be tested to identify good guys from bad guys.
The Guard's Soldiers trained in human immersion simulators that allowed operations analysts to gather data on the stress of human decision-making at the war-fighter level, and training solutions to deal with those kinds of stress factors.
"The human immersion simulator was a little difficult to use at first, but once you figure it out, it was great," said Pfc. Kevin Hadley, a forward observer with the 151st Inf. Regt. "A system like this would allow the guard to do realistic infantry training right there in the armory. I think every unit should have one."
Miller said the willingness of the Indiana Soldiers to do whatever was needed during Bold Quest was instrumental in the success of the exercise.
"Everything we have asked the Guard units to do, on the ground and in the air, and in many cases, grab some technologies they were not familiar with, they have just done it and with a great attitude," said Miller. "Personally, I would repeat this and work with them in this type of venue any time."
Capt. Brent Schmidt, Bravo Company commander, said although much of what his Soldiers did was act as opposing forces during various scenarios against coalition troops, another purpose was being served at the same time.
"All of my Soldiers wore vests that allowed them to be tracked by the operations section of the exercise. Each Soldier shows up on the tracking equipment to help Bold Quest study how troops can be effectively identified on the battlefield. The whole time they were out there they were collecting data that could help save lives," said Schmidt.
Spc. Nicholas Pudell, a forward observer with the 151st, said he was proud he had been able to take part in Bold Quest and have the opportunity to work with foreign service members while helping test new technologies that could render positive results on the battlefield.
"It was a really good experience," said Pudell. "It makes me feel really good that what we're doing out here could possibly help save Soldiers' lives in Afghanistan and Iraq right now. It also makes me feel really good that they came to the Indiana National Guard and asked us to do this. It's a privilege to be here."
Besides testing equipment for operations analysts, Indiana Guardsmen also had the opportunity to get to know Soldiers from the participating coalition countries, comparing tactics procedures and weaponry.
"It's been pretty awesome seeing some of the similarities, as well as the differences, between our ways of doing things and those of other units from foreign countries here," said Staff Sgt. Shey J. Kelley, a squad leader with the 151st.
Although this is the first time Indiana National Guard units have participated in Bold Quest, Stuart Whitehead, assistant deputy director of Command, Control and Integration for the U.S. Joint Staff, said he had every confidence the Guard would complement the exercise well.
"My expectation was pretty high because of the Guard's reputation and the contributions the Guard has made and continues to make in the fight today," said Whitehead. "Given the way the total force is working today, I think what we found is that we are able to work at very high levels of tempo and technical expertise."
(Staff Sgt. Matt Scotten serves with Camp Atterbury Public Affairs.)