FORT RILEY, Kansas – “How can I get any experience until I get a job that gives me experience?” This is the question written by Joseph Heller that exemplifies a catch-22, a concept derived from the namesake novel.
The 34th Red Bull Infantry Division is wrapping up its participation in Warfighter Exercise (WFX) 22-1. For the division, the question would likely sound something like: “How can we be proficient in warfighting until we fight a war that builds our proficiency?” Fortunately, the lessons learned over the years of military engagements the U.S. Army has participated in have guided the organization toward designing methods for training that build the same skills needed in a real operational environment.
“The training value of a warfighter exercise, quite simply, is the ability to test military doctrine, knowledge and proficiency of warfighting functions in a high-stress environment,” said Lt. Col. John Hobot, commander of the tactical command post (TAC) in this exercise.
When a division element deploys in support of a combat operation, there are three command posts: the TAC, the main command post (MCP), and rear command post (RCP). In the MCP, one can find all the warfighting functions represented: movement and maneuver, intelligence, fires, sustainment, mission command, and protection. Also represented are special staff such as the judge advocate general, public affairs, liaison officers from logistics and personnel, and other units working parallel and subordinate to the division.
The RCP includes logistics and administrative personnel who deliver food, fuel and water to forward-mobilized Soldiers.
TAC elements are small and mobile, sent forward from the MCP for perhaps 24, 48 or 72 hours to provide a command and control element over an event. Once the event has culminated, the TAC will pack up and those who staffed it will return to the MCP.
In the modern era of warfare, network systems and technological capabilities have been force multipliers to an exponential degree.
“We can’t do our job without being connected to a sim [simulator],” said Chief Warrant Officer 3 Ryan Petersen. Petersen is a chief in the Air Missile Defense, a piece of the division protection group. “Our assets gather intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance, and we can give this information to people in other sections that need it.”
Modern advancements in operations enabled this WFX to create a simulated operation with units participating in Fort Riley, Kansas, Grafenwoehr, Germany, and Fort Stewart, Georgia.
“This allows us to refine and modify our standard operating procedures and tactics to become a truly synchronized staff that can conduct quick, honest and accurate assessments,” said Hobot. “By doing this, we create a clear common operating picture that we can provide for the commander to make decisions.”
While a WFX may not be an actual war to build proficiency, the proficiency of Red Bull Soldiers to fight a war has leveled up after another hard few weeks of training.