By Lt. Col. Sonise LumbacaJune 24, 2014
FORT A.P. Hill, Va.- The Asymmetric Warfare Training Center is a facility that was built to support the Army's Asymmetric Warfare Group's mission to identify capability gaps and provide rapid solution development within various complex operational environments. Solutions can range from adding a piece of equipment to a kit or developing tactics, techniques and procedures. These operational environments can vary by region and can entail challenges as diverse as subterranean conditions to the destructive impacts of a natural disaster. The AWTC is also a venue that provides tailor-made training scenarios and environments for the AWG, the Army and Joint Forces, and other government organizations.
A variety of military, federal government and other organizations- including Special Operations Forces, specialized technical units, and the Department of State Security-have used the AWTC in the short time since its inception. This is largely due to the unique nature of the AWTC and its capacity to accommodate varied training requirements. The AWTC was recently used by members of the 82nd Airborne Division to conduct an Emergency Deployment Readiness Exercise with its focus being on non-combatant evacuation operations, or NEO. A NEO is an operation conducted to evacuate U.S. citizens from foreign countries generally due to a deteriorating security situation. A NEO can also occur when there is a natural disaster, like in the case of Hurricane Katrina in 2003 or Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines in 2013.
"The purpose of this EDRE was to validate deployment procedures from Fort Bragg and exercise key battalion mission sets in an unfamiliar off post training environment," said Maj. Robert Tracy, the plans officer for the 82nd Airborne Division. "The AWTC offered not only outstanding training facilities, but also resources, support and resident expertise that aided in exercise design and execution."
During the EDRE, the AWTC's Urban Complex-one of the facility's ranges whose infrastructure can be transformed into most small towns across the globe- was used to add realism to the exercise scenario. In addition to the Urban Complex, the AWTC also has a primitive village to meet training requirements that require tribal engagements and other maneuver type operations in austere, rural environments.
The AWTC's Urban Complex comes complete with an embassy-like building, apartment building, miniature school, mock subway and train station, typical religious buildings, traffic circle and lights, and a soccer field that doubles as a helicopter landing zone. Although the Urban Complex is a modern and realistic version of an urban setting, its structures were purposely designed to appear architecturally benign so that they can be modified to enhance scenarios.
"The AWTC is simply not just another urban village or (Military Operation on Urban Terrain) site," said Lt. Col. Justin Sapp, the AWG's operations officer. "The AWTC was developed from the ground up to provide a broad spectrum of realistic and practical environments to support solution development and training."
For example, the religious facilities can be used to inform and train soldiers on how to respectfully conduct operations in and around places of worship.
Each facility within the AWTC- to include the Urban Complex, its small arms and light demolition ranges, and its administrative facilities-provides a world class location to help soldiers hone their combat edge as well as provide a location to develop more effective solutions to enhance combat effectiveness, Sapp added.
"The difference in this facility that I've seen is the quality and the realistic perspective that you get with the training environment that we're in," said 1st Lt. Chad M. Patton, executive officer, Company B, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment. "The other ones I've been to, not to say that they haven't been [replicated] to the best of their ability; but this one definitely does a really god job of getting a real feel of what it would be like. So it provides realistic training for soldiers and allows them to get into that training mode as far as prepping for combat operations or an operation like this where you are working a NEO or [with an embassy]."
"This facility is important because it provides a single venue for collaboration between the AWG and other organizations that share common solution development and training objectives. The relative proximity of the AWTC makes it accessible to AWG. More importantly, it can accommodate the conduct of rapid solutions development initiatives required to support soldiers deployed to various contingencies around the globe," Sapp said.
The desire is that any Army, Joint unit or organization that uses the facility improves skills that will make them successful.
"If a training scenario or solution development exercise contributes to even bringing one more soldier home alive and uninjured, then the AWTC is a success," Sapp added.