FORT HUACHUCA, Ariz. — Military Intelligence Basic Officer Leader Course students with Charlie Company, 304th Military Intelligence Battalion, completed Operation Crucible Sandstorm Sept. 21 at Urban Ops Site-South.
The operation executed a situational training exercise (STX) during field operations with the intent that students combine intelligence collection and maneuver.
“Operation Crucible Sandstorm was developed in order to provide future intel leaders an opportunity to execute a well-planned, tactical, rigorous training exercise that exemplifies mission command,” said Capt. Neil Hiegel, C Co. commander, 304th MI BN. “The operation also provides elements of intelligence reporting that drives the infantry maneuver element to the overall objective.”
Hiegel said students were given an operation order and expected to complete the mission on time and with little to no guidance.
“This enables students with diverse backgrounds and experience to assist their classmates in accomplishing the mission,” he said.
Second Lt. Mary Arnold, MIBOLC student, has not participated in a STX since she was at U.S. Military Academy West Point three years ago.
Arnold and her fellow students had only been in class for a month, and the best thing to come out of the STX was the camaraderie of completing a training exercise together outside of the classroom, she said.
“The hard thing about it was we had not covered the training in class,” she said. “So, trying to work through Army doctrine and the proper way to do this type of exercise when as an MI officer we aren’t usually expected to lead those … it was really nice to work on our basic Soldier skills outside of the Military Intelligence classroom.”
This is the first time in recent history that MI BOLC students have participated in a STX in a tactical environment that tested their ability to execute troop leading procedures by planning and leading a platoon movement.
“We are always looking for opportunities in MI BOLC to inspire and develop the future leaders of our MI Corps,” said Lt. Col. Robby Haugh, 304th MI BN commander. “While the education of our new Lieutenants largely focuses on our intelligence core competencies, we will take advantage of any opportunity to familiarize students with the impact that intelligence has on maneuver in a field environment.”
The exercise was a great opportunity to take students into the field to lead their fellow classmates in the execution of platoon maneuver operations, and to briefly experience what an infantry platoon goes through as their maneuver operations are driven by intelligence, Haugh said.
During the exercise, students completed a dismounted patrol through a field adjacent to the village while under simulated fire and then maneuvered to the village screened with smoke to create a realistic scenario.
Haugh said in the future, MIBOLC will combine this iteration of STX operations with the Night Ground Confidence Course.
“The added benefit of these types of tactical maneuver exercises is that it familiarizes our students with the experiences of our combat arms brethren as they put our intelligence to tactical advantage on the battlefield,” he said. “Our challenge as a schoolhouse is in finding more opportunities within our established program of instruction to provide these opportunities and experiences to our students.”