HOHENFELS, Germany (May 10, 2018) -- Modern technology, Army training and adaptability allow a force of less than 1,000 U.S. and NATO soldiers at the Joint Multinational Readiness Center to operate as one opposing force to take on more than 3,000 U.S. and allied soldiers during Combined Resolve X.
Combined Resolve X includes approximately 3,700 participants from 13 nations at the 7th Army Training Command's Grafenwoehr and Hohenfels Training Area, April 9 to May 12, 2018.
The OPFOR operates as the JMRC enemy force that offers brigade-size units the opportunity to evaluate their battle readiness against a near-peer threat. Consisting of around 600 U.S. Soldiers from the 1st Battalion, 4th Infantry Regiment, along with multinational forces, together they make up this comparatively smaller force. With a limited amount of resources, OPFOR depends greatly on their training, technology and adaptability to survive when confronting a brigade-size adversary.
The goal of the OPFOR during Combined Resolve X is to train the NATO allied forces in Eastern Europe to be able to react, defend and conquer an enemy force in the type of terrain at HTA. The OPFOR challenges them by whatever means necessary for RTUs to better prepare for battle field operations.
The OPFOR is comprised of five companies: two light mechanized infantry units, a combat support team, a main battle tank company and a headquarters company. The OPFOR consistently takes the fight to the rotational training units that routinely participate in the Hohenfels Training Area.
Working together with augmented NATO allied forces from Albania, Bulgaria, Georgia, Kosovo, Lithuania and Poland assigned to the OPFOR, they continue to be a challenging force. They are constantly changing the way they bring the fight to the rotational training units.
"Many of the RTU's have been through this training in the past; they know the terrain. They know where we can attack them and where they are safe," said Capt. Kyle Chase, OPFOR assistant operations officer and rotational planning officer. "We have to continue to find new ways to attack the RTUs. We depend on the strength and cohesion we have with our NATO partners to continue to challenge the RTU's."
The OPFOR uses various tactics to achieve their goals. Two such methods utilized are the small-unmanned aircraft system and the Versatile Radio Observation and Detection System.
The SUAS is capable of reaching altitudes that make it nearly undetectable while still able to capture crystal clear images of troop strength and location. Information gathered is relayed in real time, which allows operators the ability to report their findings to higher headquarters.
"With the SUAS we can operate in teams of two, sending them in to attack the RTU's unnoticed, literally, multiplying our effectiveness by four-fold," said U.S. Army Sgt. Christopher Curley, an infantryman assigned to Blackfoot company, 1-4 IN.
After OPFOR Soldiers embed in the area and catch the adversary off guard, they are able to seize their weapons, equipment, and capture their radio frequencies. This allows them to listen in on radio transmissions and gain insight on future movements. The end result makes the RTU's vulnerable; they have no idea their troops have been eliminated.
The VROD is a lightweight system designed to triangulate electromagnetic frequencies when a soldier uses an electronic device. The VROD fits easily in a backpack, or can be mounted to a vehicle, which will then relay information back to operators. The OPFOR will in-turn send a team of three Soldiers to close in and capture the unsuspecting troops.
"The RTU's will use their electronics such as a GPS or cell phone, giving up their locations and leading us right to them," said 1st Sgt. Aaron Brown, 11-4 IN. "We rely on the conventional tools like a map and a compass."
The OPFOR also has an impressive cache of weapons at their disposal. From the basic rifle to simulated M136 AT4-CS-Confined Space Anti-Armor Weapon and FGM-148 Javelin anti-tank missiles, the OPFOR is able to realistically engage the RTUs in offensive and defensive training.
The RTU's are also forced to go up against larger, heavier weapons such as the T-84 Ukrainian OPFOR tanks that have the distance capability to reach their objective from a concealed location.
"We mix our OPFOR tactics and rules of engagement with the conventional rules and tactics to obtain our objective," said Capt. Brandon Shorter, 1-4 IN. "We do whatever it takes to bring the fight to them."