Staying left of the bang
March 12, 2013
JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash. - Soldiers from 4th Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division's Raider Ready Reserve (R3) recently completed five days of training, enhancing their ability to identify indicators of insurgent activity in Afghanistan, where the brigade is currently deployed in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.
The Advanced Situational Awareness Training, conducted Feb. 25 through March 1, took place in both the classroom and the field. Geared toward improving the ability to detect, observe and engage adversaries and their networks, it taught soldiers tactical skills to improve their survivability during military operations on urban terrain.
"The [soldiers] are being trained to utilize a proactive mindset," said Sgt. 1st Class Elias Munoz, 4th SBCT, 2nd Inf. Div., R3 operations noncommissioned officer in charge.
According to Munoz, the nature of the things soldiers do when something happens is reactive. Spotting indicators as they occur - and avoiding, preventing or stopping an adverse event - is a proactive approach.
This concept is known as "staying left of the bang."
Instruction in human behavior pattern recognition and analysis prepared soldiers to apply critical thinking and problem-solving skills in order to anticipate an event before it happens.
"In the classroom, we learned to predict a catastrophic event. Out here on the range, we're running through what we learned in the classroom and applying it to practical field exercises," said Spc. Nathan Taylor, an infantryman with 2nd Battalion, 23rd Infantry Regiment, 4th SBCT, 2nd Inf. Div.
In the field training simulation, a local village requested help from coalition partners as a result of mounting tensions with a neighboring settlement. The Afghan residents and police were role-played by brigade soldiers, who underwent an additional two days of training in order to stage realistic scenarios.
The soldiers set up observation posts, known as OPs, and a tactical operation center, also called a TOC. They observed the communities to establish a baseline, a rhythm and pattern to life there. Information from the OPs was relayed to the TOC, recorded and tracked. Departure from normal routine was analyzed.
"Three anomalies and you make a decision," said Taylor. It is a guideline for the number of pre-event cues which lead from observation to action.
Simulated sniper fire rang out during a soccer game. An improvised explosive device detonated as a shipment of relief supplies was hijacked. A vehicle borne improvised explosive device exploded at a checkpoint. There were complex interactions between the social groups.
After-action reviews were held at the conclusion of each scenario, where questions such as "what happened and how did it happen?" and "did the soldiers successfully identify the indicators leading up to an event?" were posed.
"I myself have not been deployed, but going through the class I don't see how one could be deployed without the training. I think it's very valuable," said Pfc. Adam Warren, an infantryman with 4th Battalion, 9th Infantry Regiment, 4th SBCT, 2nd Inf. Div.
The Raider Ready Reserve is organized, equipped and trained to execute Rear Detachment Operations focused on maintaining soldier, family, training and equipment readiness that instill confidence in forward deployed commanders.