RUKLA, Lithuania - In today's modern world, information moves at a very fast pace. Large blocks of information are passed along seemingly in nanoseconds. A business contract written in Hong Kong can arrive in New York almost instantaneously. Its reader, now updated on a deal's status, can choose to approve it, and reap a windfall; or choose to ignore the information and risk failure.
The same philosophy applies to warfare. A well-informed leader can identify targets, assess risks, and select action. But the tool that the commander uses to gather and transfer this information is much more complex than a laptop. It is a highly trained and specialized soldier who has become skilled at collecting and processing information on the battlefield. The U.S. Army teaches U.S. and Allied forces this skill with the Reconnaissance Surveillance Leaders Course (RSLC).
Last month, a total of 54 Soldiers from the United States and Europe began training at the first joint-multi-national RSLC; 25 days later 40 Soldiers graduated as reconnaissance leaders.
"This course came together due to the monumental effort from the 173rd (Infantry Brigade Combat (Airborne)," said RSLC Training Company Commander, Capt. Douglas Stansbury, Delta Company 3rd Squadron, 16th Cavalry Regiment.
Stansbury's instructors echoed their commander in praising the efforts of the 173rd Airborne Bridge in bringing the course to the Baltics.
"We are currently running a resident course at Fort Benning," said RSLC instructor Staff Sgt. Marcus Love. "So, we could only bring a few instructors here, fortunately the 173rd had several RSLC graduates who were able to help us. Without these guys, we wouldn't have been able to run this course."
The course was conducted in the Baltics to build the reconnaissance capacity with the United States' Baltic partners.
"We decided that RSLC would provide a unique opportunity to share our procedures and integrate all of our partners under demanding circumstances with a united purpose; to improve collective speed to identify," said Maj. Brian Miletech, operations officer, 2nd Battalion, 503rd Infantry Regiment, 173rd Infantry Brigade Combat Team (Airborne).
RSLC was developed in 1986 to train Soldiers assigned to units whose primary mission is to conduct reconnaissance and surveillance, target acquisition and combat assessment operations.
Over 25-days, the students learned how to "find them, watch them and destroy them" said Stansbury, through learning fundamentals such as land navigation over long distances, the use of various types of radio equipment, creating woodland sub-surface and urban hide-aways to conduct surveillance missions, as well as training to escape from the surveillance areas after being detected.
One of the aspects of the course that made it both more challenging and more beneficial for the students and the instructors was the large number of foreign students.
"They showed us new ideas and different field craft techniques," said Sgt. Mark Ludemann, Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 2nd Bn., 503rd Inf. Regt. "They were very motivated. This is their country so they know more about the terrain then we do."
1st Lt. Alexander Coslow, a platoon leader in HHC, 2nd Bn., 503rd Inf. Regt., who assisted with teaching the course, was also quick to praise the abilities of the foreign students, especially the Lithuanians.
"Many of them are new to their army," he said. "They don't have a whole lot of experience, which is good because everything is new to them. They are picking it up very quickly."
The 173rd Airborne Brigade, based in Vicenza, Italy, is the Army Contingency Response Force in Europe, and is capable of projecting forces to conduct a full range of military operations across the United States European, Central and Africa Command areas of responsibility within 18 hours.
U.S. Army Europe is uniquely positioned in its 51 country area of responsibility to advance American strategic interests in Europe and Eurasia. The relationships we build during more than 1,000 theater security cooperation events in more than 40 countries each year lead directly to support for multinational contingency operations around the world, strengthen regional partnerships and enhance global security.