By U.S. ArmyMarch 8, 2017
FORT POLK, Louisiana -- In early February, the 2nd Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 'Warrior Brigade', along with other enablers from the 25th Infantry Division footprint departed Oahu, Hawaii, to join Marines, Airmen, National Guard Soldiers, and United Kingdom Coalition partners in one of the most challenging and stressful training exercises the U.S. Army has to offer at the Joint Readiness Training Center in Folk Polk, Louisiana.
Integrating all members of the team, 2nd IBCT transformed into Task Force Warrior and embarked on a month-long training exercise focused on the realism of battlefield operations in both woodland and urban environments, the integration of coalition forces and sister services while maximizing combat strength across a light infantry brigade combat team.
"What has impressed me the most is our ability to integrate not only Marines and Airmen but also our United Kingdom Coalition partners," said Col. Anthony Lugo, commander of 2nd IBCT. "While we all come from different cultures, we are all focused on achieving the same results. It is clear that as we came together, the focus was building a cohesive team that is able to fight and win together. We all recognize that each service and country bring unique talents, capabilities and perspective that when leveraged as one team, made Task Force Warrior a lethal unit, capable of achieving decisive victory in any environment."
Going into the rotation Col. Lugo wanted the Task Force to focus on three things: small unit tactics and leadership, the brigade "deep" fight, and combined arms maneuver.
"In order to win on the battlefield, our small units have to be well trained in integrating all available assets into the fight," he said. "I want company commanders to be instinctive in the employment of CAS, artillery, attack aviation, and mortars. Our fire support assets are truly combat enablers that should be the first tool of choice for maneuver commanders at all levels. Successful integration of fire support assets into the maneuver plan will preserve combat power and ensure that our forces win the close fight," said Col. Lugo.
The scenario-based training at JRTC ensures commanders understand and utilize every asset and war-fighting function that is available to them within the Task Force.
"Since we are typically not co-located with other military units, it's really important to establish key command and control centers with the appropriate staff. It's really the importance of understanding each other's capabilities," said Capt. Edward Hickey, a platoon commander assigned to the Fleet Anti-Terrorism Security Team Charlie, Marine Corps Regiment, based at North Fork, Virginia. "So this is a great opportunity to see how we interact with adjacent units and get a little bit more direct interaction with the combat power an infantry brigade combat team."
The 2nd IBCT's rotation was distinct; it culminated with the execution of a brigade live fire exercise, which was a first time for any rotational unit at JRTC and also included real-world postal operations, providing a motivating link between service members and their families, another first.
The rotation was also the first in recent JRTC history to include a battalion size element from one of our nation's allied partners, the 1st Battalion, Duke of Lancaster's Regiment based out of Cyprus.
"Both Armies fight off the same doctrine; we fight off a similar construct so the human aspect was quite easy to link but some of the technical and procedural aspects were more difficult. These are some of things we will adjust in the future so we fit in better with a U.S. brigade," added Lt. Col. Robert Driver, battalion commander for 1st Battalion, Duke of Lancaster's Regiment.
According to Lt. Col. Driver, his Soldiers always enjoyed working with U.S. Soldiers and finding new ways of doing things.
"We always enjoy working with U.S. Troops. It's always interesting to integrate with different systems. JRTC is a unique training environment for us; not many British units at the battalion level come to these training environments," said Lt. Col. Driver. "The British troops have really enjoyed working with the U.S. BCT, seeing different ways of communicating and different ways of leveraging technology leads to achieving goals"
Task Force Warrior fought against a free thinking enemy opposing force (OPFOR), role played by U.S. Soldiers of the 1st Battalion, 509th Infantry Regiment, who have home field advantage and are renowned for maintaining their intensity in every rotation.
In true warrior spirit, the Task Force delivered tenacity and exceptional results, executing 17 days of decisive action operations, conducting three deliberate attacks, fighting 48 hours in the defense and then quickly transitioning to a pursuit to maintain pressure on the enemy.
Throughout the training, Task Force Warrior was able to develop leaders, improve maneuver capabilities, and sharpen military operations by facing well-trained role-players that ranged from the OPFOR, internally displaced civilians on the battlefield, police forces, government officials, friendly military forces, to news media.
"Coming into a CTC environment, specifically to Fort Polk, Louisiana was really an external evaluation for the brigade combat team to do its war time mission and an opportunity for every leader at every echelon to do something in an environment that they will never get a chance to do at their home station-- that's to meet a near peer enemy, the Geronimo OPFOR," said Command Sgt. Major T.J. Holland, 2nd IBCT senior enlisted adviser. "It also gives us a chance to test our mettle in a woodland and urban environment and see who comes out the best. Our job here is to win and I believe that is what we have done"
"I am impressed by the motivation and Warrior ethos that all members of Task Force Warrior displayed under the most arduous training conditions that a training center has to offer," Col. Lugo added. "From the weather to the enemy, TF Warrior has proven that it is ready to deploy, fight and win in any environment."