FORT POLK, La. — Soldiers with the 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division loaded their trucks and made the short drive to North Fort Polk for Joint Readiness Training Center Rotation 21-06, that began April 1. The training rotation is a large-scale exercise designed to stress and test units, ensuring they are ready for rapid deployments.
The exercise provides an in-depth scenario wherein a country heavy with conflict requires active militaristic engagement to combat enemy forces. As a result, the brigade, partnered with other supporting units, prepared for a large-scale deployment to provide aid and counter the active de-stabilization of a government that an army would encounter in different environments.
My role as a United States Army public affairs mass communications specialist is to document and capture the experiences of service members in garrison and on the battlefield. The imagery I collect is used to tell the Army’s story.
The JRTC rotation — my first — guaranteed that I had a front row seat as I watched the amount of preparation it takes to ensure units are fully mission ready and capable to take the fight to the enemy.
Soldiers training for conflict must be prepared for any threats that come their way. That means acquiring a knowledge of weapons mastery, how to respond to different types of attacks and sustaining themselves through the fight.
While JRTC is simulated warfare, the effort and methods required to create the environment is no different from what would be needed for a real deployment.
There is a design, schedule of attack and defense and room for casualties.
While walking the rotational unit bivouac area, I noticed several things.
The outfitting of multiple integrated laser engagement system gear on equipment is a heavily involved process. MILES sensors and lasers have to be installed on vehicles, weapons and personal gear to accurately emulate Soldiers engaging with the enemy. During force-on-force training, the Soldier and their observer/controller/ trainer will receive a notification whenever a sensor is hit with a laser, whether it be from friendly or enemy fire.
A relatively new aspect of 21st century warfare is advanced surveillance. While the use of drones is fairly common, even for civilians, armed forces can use drone technology to oversee a battlefield from a bird’s eye view. Drone technology gives insight as to where the advancement of war technology can lead.
It was a treat for me to cover two days of unmanned aerial vehicle certification, which consisted of drone construction testing and certification flights.
Soldiers participating in the training worked in teams to construct their drones, launch them in the air and steer them like remote control cars — all while being cognizant of the variables that could adversely affect a drone in flight.
One of the most interesting lessons I learned since I have been here is the amount of combined arms manpower that goes into successfully completing a JRTC training rotation. As they say: One team, one fight.
Although 3rd Brigade is the unit being graded for this exercise, enablers from 10th Mountain Division, the Army National Guard and British forces from the United Kingdom are working side-by-side to drive the “Torrikens” out of “Arnland.”
First of the Queen’s Dragoon Guards, a cavalry regiment from the British Army, arrived at JRTC to take part in various training exercises, as well prepare for their own deployments.
Nicknamed the Welsh Cavalry, our allies from across the pond have completed several training exercises and have been working hand-in-hand with U.S. Soldiers.
JRTC rotations help achieve another level of realism by deploying to another “country” to participate in an armed conflict.
As a junior public affairs specialist assigned to a public affairs detachment, it is not often that I get to participate in large scale training such as JRTC offers. This rotation has truly been a learning experience for me.
Here, I got to see how troops work together to use their resources efficiently and cohesively so they can be ready for whatever comes their way.
Although the rotation is not over yet, I look forward to providing more coverage on behalf of 10th Mountain Division while learning about how the Joint Readiness Operations Center ensures 3rd Brigade Soldiers are “Forged for War!”