By Capt. Matthew Strasser (3-16th)December 21, 2018
FORT BENNING, Ga. (Dec. 21, 2018) -- America's Cavalry Scouts have seen a significant upgrade in the Opposing Force (OPFOR) capabilities represented in the Army Reconnaissance Course (ARC) and the Reconnaissance and Surveillance Leaders Course (RSLC).
Two support platoons from 3rd Squadron, 16th U.S. Cavalry Regiment, have transformed from standard threat emulators into a thinking enemy, an effort that has been a year in the making.
Lt. Col. Jeffrey Barta, commander of 3-16 Cavalry, described the intent behind the new composition/disposition of the OPFOR support.
"Challenging students with a formidable threat brings them near the threshold of failure during training at the schoolhouse," he said. "This deepens the understanding of the classroom lessons and better prepares leaders for their roles in the operational force."
The OPFOR platoons alternate roles between Zabzimek separatist insurgents, regular Donovian forces and host nation Gorgan forces, bringing the Decisive Action Training Environment version 3.16 to Fort Benning's Cavalry and Scout courses. The ability to represent a hybrid-threat creates a sense of ambiguity in field training exercise (FTX) scenarios aimed at further preparing students to lead formations and conduct reconnaissance and security operations in a complex environment.
"Working as OPFOR gives useful insight into enemy tactics, techniques, and procedures, which is a training tool for our Soldiers," said Sgt. Stephen Kimberly, a squad leader in Rabel's Platoon.
OPFOR personnel have integrated new uniforms, visually modified vehicles, weapons and equipment from peer competitors across the globe to replicate a complex threat environment. The introduction of visual modification kits have altered the HMMWV's profile to simulate the BRDM combat reconnaissance patrol vehicle. Replications of SA-7 and SA-9 air defense systems provide a recognizable physical representation of the High Value Target List, while rocket-propelled grenades, and AK-47 replicas create a clear profile for dismounted OPFOR personnel.
Further employment of electronic jamming into the training scenarios enforces imperatives of communications planning and rehearsal of electronic warfare contact.
The OPFOR Soldiers have noted the impact of the upgraded equipment.
These improvements are meant to create a foundational training experience that will continue at the National Training Center at Fort Irwin, California, at the Joint Maneuver Readiness Center at Fort Polk, Louisiana, and beyond, to improve Army readiness.