By Mr. Gregory Ripps (ARSOUTH)January 8, 2013
The Soldiers might have been physically located in Texas, but for the purposes of this training exercise they were transported half a world away.
The mission sounded simple enough -- proceed to a local village to gather intelligence -- but the exercise held a potential for countless surprises and roadblocks. The scenarios began even before the Soldiers made it to the village, and the challenges only grew tougher as the days progressed.
For this unit and others like it, this was the first training in which Soldiers with different skill sets combined to operate in small teams in a realistic environment.
The training tested the individual and collective skills of the Soldiers while they were tasked to conduct intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance operations in field-like conditions at Camp Bullis, Texas.
Before the exercise was complete, each team member would be called upon to put his or her individual skills -- and personal mettle -- to the test.
The Soldiers were able to face this grueling exercise thanks in large part to the 470th Military Intelligence Brigade, which played a key role in training elements.
"The training focuses on small teams with collective events that required Soldiers to exercise their skills in their respective military occupational specialty," said Lt. Col. Kevin Hosier, operations and training officer for the 470th MI Brigade. "The training centers around signals intelligence and human intelligence collection tasks and took place at several mock villages in the training area and at the IDTF."
The IDTF, which stands for U.S. Army Intelligence and Security Command's Detention Training Facility, simulates facilities used overseas for questioning detainees and analyzing information.
"The IDTF platform provides an opportunity to maintain and improve analytical skills within a complex, realistic training environment," said Wesley Moczygemba, IDTF training developer.
Chief Warrant Officer 4 Morris Tyson is the internal control element chief for the 201st Military Intelligence Battalion, a subordinate unit of the 470th MI Brigade, and a veteran of five overseas deployments.
To make the training more realistic, Tyson said he engages in all levels of the interrogation and analysis training process, beginning with scripting the scenarios. This level of dedication ensures the training runs smoothly and is more effective.
"Alignment of resources for intelligence training is a monster," said Tyson. "But now the IDTF takes care of the process."
In addition to running the IDTF and the overall battlefield surveillance training event, the brigade also provides role-players and observer-controllers, as well as logistical and general support.
"The training scenarios are designed to train Soldiers in their individual skill sets, in tactics, techniques and procedures, and with their equipment to prepare them for deployments 'down range,'" Hosier said. "The scenarios are also designed to encourage them to 'make the mission happen' at team level and force them to think on their feet when faced with the unexpected," he added.
Each scenario is designed to test all aspects of mission command as well as the individual and collective intelligence tasks. Each multi-functional team leader has to plan, prepare and execute specific missions and figure out how to integrate the team's capabilities into the mission of the ground commander they are supporting.
This type of training gives young lieutenants and their teams invaluable experience conducting troop-leading procedures and complex collective tasks that are hard to replicate at their home station, Hosier added.
A typical exercise begins with orders for a team of about 12 Soldiers to conduct an intelligence mission in the training area, which could take place in a mock village or en route to one. The intelligence mission might consist of obtaining information about a weapons cache or hostile activity.
At that point, team members must question villagers, provide "tactical site exploitation" and positive identification of high-value individuals to the ground commander, and make recommendations on whether or not suspect individuals should be detained for further questioning.
After a team arrives at the IDTF with "detainees," team members exercise their interrogation skills, analyze the intelligence gathered, fill intelligence gaps and answer information requirements.
After processing and producing the intelligence, they practice dissemination of that intelligence to their higher headquarters.
"Soldiers go to schools to train with their equipment and in their skills, but they don't interact with Soldiers in other MI skill sets," said Hosier. "This training is their first opportunity to do their jobs in a training environment together."
The exercise not only enables multi-functional teams to exercise collective tasks but also gives each unit commander better understanding of what the remainder of their pre-deployment training should focus on to get their teams mission-ready.
"From a commander's perspective, these exercises are a huge success," Wetherill said. "This type of training is invaluable when preparing your unit for a deployment."