By Mr. Wesley P Elliott (TRADOC)August 26, 2010
FORT BLISS, TEXAS (August 10, 2010) - The 5th Brigade, 1st Armored Division, Army Evaluation Task Force (AETF) recently battled through two weeks of rough terrain and triple digit heat to test the Brigade Combat Team Modernization equipment during their company level Situational Training Exercise (STX).
The training focused on a counter insurgency scenario in a fictional country whose infrastructure and culture was modeled to closely resemble Afghanistan. The training area was one of the largest used by the AETF, encompassing large portions of White Sands Missile Range and Fort Bliss.
For the training, opposing forces (OPFOR) made up of the 5/1 AD, 1st Combined Arms Battalion, occupied villages in both the Mountain Village training area and in the Yucca Village training area at White Sands.
The villages offered a more immersive experience than in previous years. The buildings were designed to resemble construction and layout in an actual village the soldiers may encounter in Afghanistan. The designs were borrowed from the soldiers training and experience at the National Training Facility (NTC) in Irving, Cal and from their own experiences during deployments.
The villages consist of a mosque, a general store, restaurants, a market place, a cemetery, a Police Station, and living quarters for the OPFOR and soldiers acting as residents of the village. The residents played the roles of village elders, spiritual leaders, peaceful villagers, store clerks, insurgents, and the local military of the fictional country.
When interacting with the villages the 2nd Combined Arms Battalion that comprised the US Forces, approached the villages carefully in order to foster cooperation and protect the citizens, while not infringing on the local military who is tasked with keeping order in the region.
The counterinsurgency tactics focused on the relationships between the villagers, the local military, and the US troops. This differed from past training where US forces would enter a village and engage the enemy and leave. In this more relevant type of operation, engaging any role player could cause reactions in the villagers that affect the outcome future interactions.
While balancing the complex relationships with the role players, the soldiers were also using advanced equipment to monitor and control the battlefield. One such device was the SUG-V robot which consists of a remotely controlled robot which allows soldiers to see, hear, and talk to threats from a safe distance.
"We have used it to clear rooms, or to see if there is something on the road, IEDs or stuff like that. It's the first thing we deploy when we enter a building, to see how many personnel are in the building." Said Pfc. Julio Espinoza of 5/1 AD, 2CAB, Delta Company.
Soldiers from 2nd CAB also utilized the Class 1, Unmanned Ariel Vehicle and the unattended ground sensors to monitor the area of operations to keep them safe from possible threats to the villagers or Coalition forces.
Addition equipment included the fielding of new MATV, mine resistant ambush protected vehicles (MRAPs). The MATV is being tested as the platform that houses the Network Integration Kit (NIK) that connects all the systems and transfers the data to commanders across the battlefield. The MATV is a lighter, more mobile MRAP which is currently being used in Afghanistan due to the country's rough terrain, which makes larger MRAPs impractical.
The exercise was designed to allow the soldiers of 5/1 AD to train and hone their skills while implementing and testing the new technology being fielded by the Brigade Combat Team Modernization Program.
For more information, contact Wesley Elliott, FFID Public Affairs Office, at (915) 568-4278.