Rifle Focus II: A sequel to NATO collective defense training

By Spc. Jameson HarrisDecember 10, 2021

Netherlands Army and German Army soldiers assigned to enhanced Forward Presence Battle Group Lithuania examine their topographical map at Bemowo Piskie Training Area, Poland, Dec. 7, 2021. The purpose of this command post exercise was to see multiple countries practice in a simulated environment together, rehearsing NATO collective defense in a crisis response scenario. (U.S. Army photo by Spc. Jameson Harris)
1 / 2 Show Caption + Hide Caption – Netherlands Army and German Army soldiers assigned to enhanced Forward Presence Battle Group Lithuania examine their topographical map at Bemowo Piskie Training Area, Poland, Dec. 7, 2021. The purpose of this command post exercise was to see multiple countries practice in a simulated environment together, rehearsing NATO collective defense in a crisis response scenario. (U.S. Army photo by Spc. Jameson Harris) (Photo Credit: Spc. Jameson Harris) VIEW ORIGINAL
U.S. Army National Guard 1st Lt. Nicholas Pace and Sgt. Matthew Brissett, assigned to 3rd Battalion, 161st Infantry Regiment, part of the lower control cell, receive orders from higher control cell via telephone during a command post exercise in Bemowo Piskie Training Area, Poland, Dec. 7, 2021. The LOCON team was vital in the coordination between the upper echelon and the battalion staff during the exercise Rifle Focus II. (U.S. Army photo by Spc. Jameson Harris)
2 / 2 Show Caption + Hide Caption – U.S. Army National Guard 1st Lt. Nicholas Pace and Sgt. Matthew Brissett, assigned to 3rd Battalion, 161st Infantry Regiment, part of the lower control cell, receive orders from higher control cell via telephone during a command post exercise in Bemowo Piskie Training Area, Poland, Dec. 7, 2021. The LOCON team was vital in the coordination between the upper echelon and the battalion staff during the exercise Rifle Focus II. (U.S. Army photo by Spc. Jameson Harris) (Photo Credit: Spc. Jameson Harris) VIEW ORIGINAL

BEMOWO PISKIE, Poland — From November 29 to December 11, U.S. Army Atlantic Resolve Soldiers and two NATO battle groups teamed up to conduct a command post exercise, Rifle Focus II.

The wargame tested NATO allies and higher echelon’s battle decisions and strategies in a simulated training environment.

Instead of deploying real units, soldiers, and assets, which can be time-consuming and expensive, simulation software is used instead to virtually display different units, squads, assets and support. The exercise operationally aligned all assets and opposing forces like a chess board.

The different pieces of this board were higher command, exercise command, lower control, and a tactical operations center. The training featured a wide variety of players, including the U.S. Army Washington National Guard, 1st Infantry Division’s 3rd Battalion, 66th Armored Regiment, British Army, German Army, Netherlands Army, Norwegian Army, Croatian Army, Polish Territorial Defense Force and Romanian Army.

(Photo Credit: U.S. Army) VIEW ORIGINAL

“This is the first time Bemowo Piskie Training Area has hosted a CPX,” said U.S. Army National Guard Lt. Col. Craig Broyles, the Battle Group Poland commander. “This is going to make us a much better NATO force, but also build the seeds for further training opportunities and experiences.”

The training would not have been possible without the support of 7th Army Training Command’s Joint Multinational Simulation Center, based out of Grafenwoehr, Germany. The JMSC was the exercise control for the CPX, using software simulations to control scenarios and train the NATO soldiers. Without them, there would not be constructive simulations for the battalions to conduct their exercises.

Mr. Paul Dube, a simulation analyst for capstone corporation, points to the projection of the battle map at Bemowo Piskie Training Area, Poland, Dec. 7, 2021. Dube, a part of 7th Army Training Command's Joint Multinational Simulation Center, helped run the exercise control cell during the command post exercise. (U.S. Army photo by Spc. Jameson Harris)
Mr. Paul Dube, a simulation analyst for capstone corporation, points to the projection of the battle map at Bemowo Piskie Training Area, Poland, Dec. 7, 2021. Dube, a part of 7th Army Training Command's Joint Multinational Simulation Center, helped run the exercise control cell during the command post exercise. (U.S. Army photo by Spc. Jameson Harris) (Photo Credit: Spc. Jameson Harris) VIEW ORIGINAL
“With this simulation technology, units are able to train without the cost and safety risks associated with training,” said Mr. Felipe Ropati, the exercise lead planner.

The exercise began each day from exercise control, as they introduced different scenarios to the battle groups each day. The battle groups’ mission essential tasks included conducting attacks, moving to contact, area defense and security and deployment operations.

At this point, higher control, led by Washington Army National Guard G-3, provided injects, actions that required a response from the battalion staff. Lower control received the injects and communicated them to the tactical operations center. From there, the various multinational battalion staff coordinated and strategized together and conducted the missions in the simulation.

U.S. Army Washington National Guard Soldiers view simulated friendly forces on the command post of the future software system during a command post exercise in Bemowo Piskie Training Area, Poland, Dec. 7, 2021. These Soldiers served in the higher control cell, providing support for the training audiences as they exercised their warfighting capabilities. (U.S. Army photo by Spc. Jameson Harris)
U.S. Army Washington National Guard Soldiers view simulated friendly forces on the command post of the future software system during a command post exercise in Bemowo Piskie Training Area, Poland, Dec. 7, 2021. These Soldiers served in the higher control cell, providing support for the training audiences as they exercised their warfighting capabilities. (U.S. Army photo by Spc. Jameson Harris) (Photo Credit: Spc. Jameson Harris) VIEW ORIGINAL

“What we’ve realized is each one of us brings a capability that the other doesn’t have,” said U.S. Army Lt. Col. Craig Broyles. “The U.K. have such a fantastic reconnaissance capability, their ability to provide eyes for the Battle Group. The Croatians have such an amazing firepower capability, and the Romanians protect the Battle Group. The U.S. Army Infantry then rolls through and wipes out the enemy.”

1st Infantry Division’s 3rd Battalion, 66th Armored Regiment arrived to provide armor support for Battle Group Lithuania. “This exercise is an incredible opportunity to train the staff, increase interoperability, work with NATO allies and learn from each other,” said U.S. Army Maj. Christopher Perrone, assigned to 3rd Battalion, 66th Armored Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division.

Broyles was especially grateful for the experience and perspective the armored regiment brought to the table. “I call it cross-pollination. We both run our operations and at the end of it, we compare and contrast how they conducted their operations versus what we [the Infantry] did. We are stronger together when we work together.”

Both battle groups were tested on the exact same scenarios, but each navigated them with their own unique strategies, capabilities and decisions. At the end of every day, each battle group conducted an after action review, comparing each other’s decision-making.

U.S. Army, Dutch and German soldiers observe the battle map in Bemowo Piskie Training Area, Poland, Dec. 7, 2021. The different countries worked together to practice the multinational military decision making process during the command post exercise Rifle Focus II. (U.S. Army photo by Spc. Jameson Harris)
U.S. Army, Dutch and German soldiers observe the battle map in Bemowo Piskie Training Area, Poland, Dec. 7, 2021. The different countries worked together to practice the multinational military decision making process during the command post exercise Rifle Focus II. (U.S. Army photo by Spc. Jameson Harris) (Photo Credit: Spc. Jameson Harris) VIEW ORIGINAL

It was a unique opportunity for an infantry regiment and an armored regiment to see how each other conducted their movements, reacted to contact and navigated the terrain. Because of the vast amount of experience and perspectives channeled through the exercise, the CPX was a huge success in engaging the partnership and interoperability across NATO.

A cohesive team aligns players strengths toward one common goal. In this exercise, the NATO allies and partners showed that when we work together, we are stronger together.