FORT EUSTIS, Va. -- According to U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command, the future operating environment is going underground. Future adversaries are expected to increasingly operate in cities, which not only means house-to-house and close-quarters street fighting, but also the city's layers of infrastructure including transit, sewer, and maintenance tunnels, as well as in unmapped hidden tunnels constructed by enemy forces to operate and move about the combat environment.
Subterranean warfare has been around as long as armed conflict and has traditionally been the warfare of choice which a weaker, less well-equipt force has used to fight a stronger, more concentrated force. Recent examples and valuable lessons learned that illustrate the evolutionary nature of subterranean combat have been taken from WWII (particularly in the German or Soviet-occupied cities of Eastern Europe), the war in Vietnam and the conflicts in Iraq, Syria, and Afghanistan. Subterranean warfare is a staple of the Palestinian-Israeli conflicts, which are being fought today. Clearly, training Soldiers for this environment and providing them with the right mix of capabilities is essential to success on future battlefields.
According to the Pentagon, in 2018 the U. S. Army stepped-up training for subterranean combat by specifically ear-marking more than $572 million to train and equip 26 of its 31 active combat brigades to fight in large-scale subterranean facilities that exist beneath dense urban areas around the world.
For this type of warfare, the Army turns to the Asymmetric Warfare Group (AWG) based in Fort Meade, Maryland, to provide operational and advisory support to develop solutions and support Army and Joint Forces to quickly adapt, survive and defeat opponents in a subterranean environment.
Combining research, exercises, and operational experience, the AWG developed and released the Subterranean Warfare Handbook (2013) and the Subterranean Operations Quick Reference Guide (2018). AWG subject matter experts worked side by side with The Army Distributed Learning Program (TADLP) Mobile Learning Division based in Fort Eustis to create and expand the Subterranean Operations Quick Reference Guide into a digital interactive e2Book.
"The book is divided into four chapters: Complexities, Considerations, Training and Conclusions and explains the theory and practice of underground combat," said Captain Corey Miller, Troop Commander and Operational Advisor with AWG. "We took all the knowledge gleaned from historical data, exercises, first-hand observations from across the globe, culled volumes of After Actions Reports (AARs), and included the latest reports and research on the state of subterranean warfare across the globe - and packed it into the handbook and the quick reference guide" he said. "These documents provide contemporary guidance plan and execute training for units operating in underground combat scenarios, in according with ATP 3-21.51 "Subterranean Operations," published in February 2018. "The Subterranean Operations Quick Reference Guide is meant to complement the doctrine, and the digital version enhances the usability by allowing the user to interact with the document to better understand the environment," said MSG Scott Moore a Troop Sergeant Major and Operational Advisor with AWG.
"The specifications and intent we were given was to create a sharp abridged illustrated companion to the new manual said Robert Roberts, TADLP Project Manager for the Subterranean e2book. "We needed to turn text into visuals that gave Soldiers a greater understanding of how subterranean combat works, how it differs from other forms of warfare, it's unique dangers, equipment, limitations, and tactics. So, for example, we used infographics, photos, and 3D renderings to allow Soldiers to see where they need to be in any given situation. We could also illustrate a sequence of events that would transpire in seconds; by slowing things down Soldiers see the details - and understand the material better." he said. "Ultimately, it's about helping Soldiers learn and retain what they learn." Roberts added.
"The AWG Subterranean content is also very easy to get to and begin using," said Roberts. "The Subterranean Guide is posted on the Central Army Registry website, better known by its acronym, 'the CAR', and can be accessed on any desktop computer, iPad or any smartphone, from anywhere."
The CAR provides a single access point for several official Army resources such as Field Manuals, Training Support Packages (TSPs), individual or collective task guides, drills and courseware." he said.
The Subterranean Operations Quick Reference Guide, e2Book Living Doctrine Supplement, requires a CAC-enabled device and is accessible through the CAR at https://atiam.train.army.mil/catalog-ws/view/SubOpsGuide/index.html
ABOUT THE U.S. ARMY ASYMMETRIC WARFARE GROUP (AWG)
AWG provides global operational advisory support to U.S. Army forces to rapidly transfer current threat based observations and solutions to tactical and operational commanders in order to defeat emerging asymmetric threats and enhance multi-domain effectiveness. The AWG is organized into three regionally aligned operational squadrons, a concepts integration squadron, and an assessment and training squadron. The AWG enables adaptation in preparation for combat and contingency operations that Soldiers rely on and is a trusted partner that informs and shapes future force development and modernization.
The AWG was initially established as a Field Operating Agency under the operational control of the Army Deputy Chief of Staff, stationed at Fort Meade, Maryland . In November 2011 the AWG was assigned to the U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command (TRADOC) reporting to the commanding general. The Asymmetric Warfare Training Center at Fort A.P. Hill, VA., a state-of-the-art facility was opened in January 2014 to support its mission. The AWG is the Army's asymmetric threat expert, vigilant over the ever-changing operating environment. Today, the unit's operational advisors are deployed to every Combatant Command area of responsibility in support of numerous Army and Joint force missions.
ABOUT THE ARMY DISTRIBUTED LEARNING PROGRAM (TADLP)
Established in by the Chief of Staff of the Army in 1996, the Commanding General of Training and Doctrine Command (TRADOC) was appointed the Executive Agent for TADLP and is the full-line authority for the centralized management and integration of the program. Located at Fort Eustis in Virginia, the TADLP Director is Ms. Helen Remily.
The Army Distributed Learning Program (TADLP), improves Army readiness by providing rigorous, relevant, and tailored distributed training and education to Soldiers, leaders, and Army civilians from a responsive and accessible - frequently mobile - delivery capability. Distributed Learning (DL) is a modern, proven instructional model used by the Army to deliver individual, collective, and self-developmental training and education anytime, anywhere. TADLP leads the way in creating user-friendly, pliant and adaptable distributed and distance learning models that leverage emerging technologies to distribute learning across an array of portable devices in a variety of formats depending on the needs of the user. To learn more about the people and facilities of TADLP visit their website at https://www.atsc.army.mil/TADLP/