By Capt. Olivia Cobiskey, 205th Infantry Brigade Public Affairs OfficerOctober 11, 2012
Camp Atterbury Joint Maneuver Training Center, Ind. - Scenario-driven training provided to Provincial Reconstruction Teams helped the deploying Soldiers not only gain operational experience but provided them extensive experience working with interpreters.
The trainers, assigned to the 205th Infantry Brigade at Camp Atterbury Joint maneuver Training Center, Ind., strive to ensure deploying Soldiers receive the most realistic, relevant training possible. The scenario-driven training along with the role players, forces Soldiers to work through the challenges in the same environment and conditions they'll face when they deploy.
Maximizing the resources that we have while we have them is fiscally responsible, explained Capt. Eric Baker, a team lead with 1-335th Infantry Regiment, 205th Infantry Brigade, First Army Division East. It's about getting them out of the classroom, past the power point, and into the field.
Baker said the role players help provide a level of realism the Provincial Reconstruction Teams need to help rebuild the infrastructure and help connect the people of Afghanistan to government services like healthcare and schools.
"Some of the role players were general officers in the Afghan Army, some of them worked at the Embassy, some were teachers. It's deeper than just being able to speak the language," said Tim Connelly, project manager for McKellar Corporation, in Virginia Beach, Va., the company that provides role players. "We reach out to the people with the expertise in that field, people that best meet the needs of the scenario."
"They not only have the background they need they have the experience and can get more than two talking points deep, they can have an in-depth conversation on the subject."
"The commanders learn to rely on the expertise of their team members," said Connelly, a retired lieutenant colonel. "They turn to the Infantry, Armor, Field Artillery, to functional specialists, engineering, medical combat service support, many whose expertise is not relied on in other missions."
For Baker and the other First Army Division East trainer mentors, the scenario-driven training allows the joint-service teams, composed of Air Force, Army, and Navy service members, the increased ability to build internal communication structures before deploying to provinces throughout Afghanistan.
"Sometimes the units are organic; sometimes they are put together for the mission ad hoc," Baker said. "So we want it to be as real-world as possible so these relationships -- between the PRT and the security force, or between the individual team members -- evolves naturally."
The village training site has 38 cameras that record the entire training scenario, Baker added. The role-players and mentors provide instant feedback after they complete the key leader engagement, the health clinic visit, and the market inspection. Additionally, units also are provided a CD to take with them to review later.
Mohammad Khoshbin, from Kandehar, Afghanistan, has been a translator since 2004 and has deployed with units to Afghanistan and worked at Guantanamo Bay Naval Base.
"The most important relationship for a Soldier is with his interpreter," Khoshbin said.
Navy Lt. Chase Johnson, the information operations officer for PRT Uruzgan, agreed.
"The training is absolutely critical," said Johnson, a submariner on the Ohio-class ballistic-missile submarine USS Wyoming, in Kings Bay, Ga., "not only do we have to learn how to interact with Afghan local nationals, but we have to learn to work with our interpreters. Using an interpreter, you quickly learn, is not a skill most people have -- that's the benefit of doing these types of lanes."
The 205th Infantry Brigade trains and validates Army National Guard and Army Reserve Soldiers for deployment or other contingency operations and is subordinate to First Army Division East, at Fort Meade, Md. The brigade also trains units of the active Army, U.S. Navy, U.S. Air Force, U.S. Marine Corps, along with selected members of the interagency and intergovernmental departments and United States partner nations.
Division East's eight subordinate brigades include the 205th Infantry Brigade and the 157th Infantry Brigade at Camp Atterbury, Ind.; the 158th Infantry Brigade and the 177th Infantry Brigade at Camp Shelby, Miss.; the 72nd Field Artillery Brigade and 174th Infantry Brigade at Joint Base Maguire-Dix-Lakehurst; the 188th Infantry Brigade at Fort Stewart, Ga.; and the 4th Cavalry Brigade at Fort Knox, Ky.