Special Operations Forces-Training Center has footprint at WSMR

By Miriam RodriguezNovember 5, 2021

White Sands Missile Range is now home to the Special Operations Forces-Training Center (SOF-TC). (Photo Credit: Drew Hamilton) VIEW ORIGINAL

White Sands Missile Range is now home to the Special Operations Forces-Training Center (SOF-TC).

The SOF-TC Director Col. Theodore O. Unbehagen said the unit arrived at WSMR in August and now reside in the former 2nd Engineer Battalion Headquarters Building. The Training Center falls under the 1st Special Forces Command (Airborne) or 1st SFC(A) out of Fort Bragg, North Carolina.

Col. Unbehagen said the WSMR community has welcomed them with open arms. He said the garrison command team, Garrison Commander Col. Ryan M. Howell and Garrison Command Sgt. Maj. Devin Winnegan, and all the staff at Army Community Service and Morale Welfare and Recreation have been very helpful.

"This community is amazing. They have opened their doors to us and welcomed us."

He said the WSMR command team Commander Brig. Gen. Eric Little and outgoing WSMR Command Sgt. Maj. Christopher Prosser, along with their staff and the White Sands Test Center Commander Col. Shawanta D. Smart have really embraced the concept of integrating their mission with the greater testing center activities.

SOF-TC currently has a staff of 12 military personnel with plans to grow, the core of which includes Special Forces Noncommissioned Officers that coordinate logistics and serve as liaisons for incoming units as they arrive to WSMR for training. Col. Unbehagen said the NCOs are paired with a rotational unit throughout their training rotations at WSMR, which are usually about 6 weeks long.

"We get anywhere from 500 to 1,000 Soldiers that come in with each unit to train," Col. Unbehagen said. "We get a large contingency of different units and organizations that come out to train. This includes U.S. Active Duty, National Guard and OCONUS [outside the continental United States] Partner forces."

He said the staff's main purpose is to ensure the rotational units have everything they need coordinated prior to their arrival.

They also work with 1st SFC (A)'s exercise planning team called Sage Eagle, which is comprised of 20 individuals that are mostly retired Special Forces Officers and NCOs. Sage Eagle assists rotational units with exercise planning and works with other organizations that run the opposition forces.

"SOF-TC's permanent party footprint is small for these exercises but expands as we incorporate the totality of the team," said Col. Unbehagen. They also have about 20 contracted mechanics that currently work out of the SOF-TC motor pool on Fort Bliss, where they currently house and maintain the bulk of their fleet.

SOF-TC leaders plan for half of those maintainers to eventually work out of WSMR as they will eventually occupy the entire 2E space.

1st SFC(A) and other Joint SOF units typically conduct 5 or 6 large training events throughout the year at WSMR. In FY22 Sage Eagle has scheduled five rotations and anticipates several additional small unit training events will come to WSMR.

One goal of the Training Center at WSMR is to develop working relationships with the other stake holders on post so they can develop training areas that facilitate rotational unit training exercises that focus on multi-domain operations.

"If we want to really test our electronic and information warfare capabilities, WSMR has the capability to test these skills," Col. Unbehagen said. "We can also start testing our ability to lower our signature. As we go into several countries at any one time we need to determine how we operate in these environments and not illuminate ourselves. With all the technology we have, as soon as we are out the door we illuminate ourselves – so this is the environment we are looking to develop in training so we can learn to counter that threat."

"This is the type of training SOF-TC is looking to provide rotational units out at WSMR, especially since there are many opportunities considering all the resources on WSMR, to include existing villages constructed by other organizations that trained here before us that SOF-TC will utilize," said Col. Unbehagen.

Col. Unbehagen said they don't know what technology might come in the near future, but with the opportunities available at WSMR, SOF-TC will be able to adapt training to provide rotational units the opportunity to train and test new equipment. "This is certainly the place to do it."

One thing SOF-TC will work on is doing a better job at communicating when training rotations are scheduled so the WSMR community is aware that the gym or the commissary can expect a larger influx of customers.

"We will ensure that our Soldiers respect the rules when they are out in the cantonment area and in the community."

Col. Unbehagen said he wants the community to know they are here and what they do.

"Don't be afraid to give us a shout anytime as we want to be good neighbors and a positive addition to this amazing WSMR community."