Light divisions train to fight armored units during warfighter exercise

By Maj. Orlandon HowardJune 24, 2022

Maj. Gen. Milford Beagle Jr., commander, 10th Mountain Division (LI), briefs Soldiers under his command and cadre from the Mission Command Training Program during an operations rehearsal for Warfighter Exercise 22-5 at Fort Drum, New York, June 3, 2022. Warfighter exercises are command post exercises in a Decisive Action Training Environment focused on developing core warfighting competencies in connection with unit training objectives. (Photo provided from Maj. Gen. Milford Beagle Jr., 10th Mountain Division commanders' @Beags_Beagle Twitter account). (Photo Credit: Courtesy) VIEW ORIGINAL

The Mission Command Training Program (MCTP) supported the final warfighter exercise of the fiscal year with the 10th Mountain Division (LI) and the National Guard’s 38th and 42nd Infantry Divisions at Fort Drum, New York, and Fort Campbell, Kentucky, June 4-16, 2022.

The divisions fought a complex battle in a sophisticated hybrid simulation against a dynamic free-thinking opposing force (OPFOR).

It was another high-level combat training center repetition toward readying the Army’s divisions and corps for large-scale combat operations (LSCO). It comes as the Army continues inaugurating a new generation of doctrine and capabilities.

“MCTP’s role in warfighters is to help shape the training to make sure units meet their training objectives,” said Col. Michael Manner, chief of Operations Group C, MCTP.

“We’re there to help the units see themselves based on doctrine and effective TTPs collected from the deep experience of our cadre and senior mentors.”

Many leaders in the divisions spent the formative and mid-grade years of their careers fighting insurgencies. Yet over the last decade, the Army has steered its formations back to its core, preparing to contest near-peer and peer threats in the future.

South Carolina National Guard Leadership visit the 218th MEB During War Fighter Exercise
U.S. Army Brig. Gen. David Jenkins, assistant adjutant general, South Carolina National Guard and U.S. Army Command Sgt. Maj. Richard Kyzer II, South Carolina Army National Guard State Command Sgt. Maj., visit soldiers with the 218th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade, South Carolina National Guard during a joint Warfighter exercise with U.S. Army Soldiers assigned to the 10th Mountain Division, Ft. Drum, New York, June 11, 2022. Warfighter exercises are designed to test a command’s ability to plan and execute tactical operations in phases. Soldiers are tested through virtual battlefield simulations. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Pfc. Ana-Grace Catoe, South Carolina National Guard) (Photo Credit: Pfc. Ana-Grace Catoe) VIEW ORIGINAL

During the rotation, Maj. Gen. Milford Beagle Jr. commanded the 10th Mtn. Div., which is organically a light division. In an interesting twist, the exercise tested the light fighters’ ability to command and control armored formations.

The scenario gave the division operational control of two armored and one Stryker brigade combat teams to fight alongside one of its light infantry brigade combat teams.

“Division commanders have proven to be really flexible," said Manner. “I’ve done this a while and seen how dynamic they are to take any brigades they’re given and apply them to the problem sets they have.”

Beagle’s pending promotion to lieutenant general was recently announced, and his command of Training and Doctrine Command’s Combined Arms Center (CAC) at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas.

The CAC is the Army’s modernization hub for doctrine, organization, training, and leader development. Its latest efforts have focused on modernizing the Army for multi-domain operations in LSCO, with divisions replacing brigade combat teams as the primary units of action.

The warfighter exercise put Beagle in the hot seat ahead of his transition, giving him hands-on experience commanding a division as the unit of action against a peer threat in a rigorous training environment.

The 10 Mtn. Div. pursued an aggressive set of training objectives.

“Gen. Beagle created a robust expanded list of sub-objectives in addition to the main objectives,” said Manner. “It helped us and the unit know exactly what they wanted to get out of each element of the training.”

Manner said his observer-coach-trainers (OC/T) observe and coach simultaneously while “giving the commanding general a barometer, where he is in his training objectives.”

During the warfighter, the training audiences also incorporated elements of the Army’s new operational concept, multi-domain operations (MDO).

Beagle emphasized applying the concept of convergence to conducting operations and prosecuting targets. Convergence entails using numerous advanced tools and capabilities to improve battlefield situational awareness, connect sensors with shooters, and accelerate decision-making, according to the U.S. Army Futures Command.

“One big key to being successful in MDO in warfighters is tying in all the enablers and synchronizing them in time and space,” said Manner. “Then it’s about layering effects on multiple things and areas.”

The challenge and comprehensive focus of the exercise proved to be a valuable experience for Soldiers throughout the division formations. Leaders from the 10th Mtn. Div. called the training event “successful and insightful.” One junior 10th Mtn. Div. Soldier said the stuff he did in the warfighter was why he joined the Army.

“The goal is for every Soldier at every level to have a positive experience and learn more than they knew before,” said Manner.

“As they understand doctrine a little more and their role in the warfighting process, they become more cohesive and more effective as a team.”