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The U.S. Army Cadet Command at Fort Knox, Ky., runs about 6,000 Reserve Officer Training Corps cadets through its 30-day required summer drills each year. This year, for the first time, it's putting the cadets through a 13-day field exercise in the simulated war-torn village of "Ashaghi." The cadets are in the role of U.S. forces who just arrived to help preserve the peace. Local village leaders and opposing forces are played by soldiers from U.S. Forces Command, and the test the cadets in real-world scenarios such as village shura security meetings, dealing with insurgencies and securing roads. This is the first year the cadet's training has included the real-world scenarios as their field exercise. Soldiers from U.S. Forces Command run the village all summer, and move in several weeks before the cadets arrive. They live in the container buildings, and will react to the cadets depending on how they perform in each day's scenario.
The U.S. Army Cadet Command at Fort Knox, Ky., runs about 6,000 Reserve Officer Training Corps cadets through its 30-day required summer drills each year. This year, for the first time, it's putting the cadets through a 13-day field exercise in the simulated war-torn village of "Ashaghi." The cadets are in the role of U.S. forces who just arrived to help preserve the peace. Local village leaders and opposing forces are played by soldiers from U.S. Forces Command, and the test the cadets in real-world scenarios such as village shura security meetings, dealing with insurgencies and securing roads. This is the first year the cadet's training has included the real-world scenarios as their field exercise. Soldiers from U.S. Forces Command run the village all summer, and move in several weeks before the cadets arrive. They live in the container buildings, and will react to the cadets depending on how they perform in each day's scenario. (Tara Copp/Stars and Stripes)
The U.S. Army Cadet Command at Fort Knox, Ky., runs about 6,000 Reserve Officer Training Corps cadets through its 30-day required summer drills each year. This year, for the first time, it's putting the cadets through a 13-day field exercise in the simulated war-torn village of "Ashaghi." The cadets are in the role of U.S. forces who just arrived to help preserve the peace. Local village leaders and opposing forces are played by soldiers from U.S. Forces Command, and the test the cadets in real-world scenarios such as village shura security meetings, dealing with insurgencies and securing roads. This is the first year the cadet's training has included the real-world scenarios as their field exercise. Soldiers from U.S. Forces Command run the village all summer, and move in several weeks before the cadets arrive. They live in the container buildings, and will react to the cadets depending on how they perform in each day's scenario.
The U.S. Army Cadet Command at Fort Knox, Ky., runs about 6,000 Reserve Officer Training Corps cadets through its 30-day required summer drills each year. This year, for the first time, it's putting the cadets through a 13-day field exercise in the simulated war-torn village of "Ashaghi." The cadets are in the role of U.S. forces who just arrived to help preserve the peace. Local village leaders and opposing forces are played by soldiers from U.S. Forces Command, and the test the cadets in real-world scenarios such as village shura security meetings, dealing with insurgencies and securing roads. This is the first year the cadet's training has included the real-world scenarios as their field exercise. Soldiers from U.S. Forces Command run the village all summer, and move in several weeks before the cadets arrive. They live in the container buildings, and will react to the cadets depending on how they perform in each day's scenario. (Tara Copp/Stars and Stripes)
The U.S. Army Cadet Command at Fort Knox, Ky., runs about 6,000 Reserve Officer Training Corps cadets through its 30-day required summer drills each year. This year, for the first time, it's putting the cadets through a 13-day field exercise in the simulated war-torn village of "Ashaghi." The cadets are in the role of U.S. forces who just arrived to help preserve the peace. Local village leaders and opposing forces are played by soldiers from U.S. Forces Command, and the test the cadets in real-world scenarios such as village shura security meetings, dealing with insurgencies and securing roads. This is the first year the cadet's training has included the real-world scenarios as their field exercise. Soldiers from U.S. Forces Command run the village all summer, and move in several weeks before the cadets arrive. They live in the container buildings, and will react to the cadets depending on how they perform in each day's scenario.
The U.S. Army Cadet Command at Fort Knox, Ky., runs about 6,000 Reserve Officer Training Corps cadets through its 30-day required summer drills each year. This year, for the first time, it's putting the cadets through a 13-day field exercise in the simulated war-torn village of "Ashaghi." The cadets are in the role of U.S. forces who just arrived to help preserve the peace. Local village leaders and opposing forces are played by soldiers from U.S. Forces Command, and the test the cadets in real-world scenarios such as village shura security meetings, dealing with insurgencies and securing roads. This is the first year the cadet's training has included the real-world scenarios as their field exercise. Soldiers from U.S. Forces Command run the village all summer, and move in several weeks before the cadets arrive. They live in the container buildings, and will react to the cadets depending on how they perform in each day's scenario. (Tara Copp/Stars and Stripes)
The U.S. Army Cadet Command at Fort Knox, Ky., runs about 6,000 Reserve Officer Training Corps cadets through its 30-day required summer drills each year. This year, for the first time, it's putting the cadets through a 13-day field exercise in the simulated war-torn village of "Ashaghi." The cadets are in the role of U.S. forces who just arrived to help preserve the peace. Local village leaders and opposing forces are played by soldiers from U.S. Forces Command, and the test the cadets in real-world scenarios such as village shura security meetings, dealing with insurgencies and securing roads. This is the first year the cadet's training has included the real-world scenarios as their field exercise. Soldiers from U.S. Forces Command run the village all summer, and move in several weeks before the cadets arrive. They live in the container buildings, and will react to the cadets depending on how they perform in each day's scenario.
The U.S. Army Cadet Command at Fort Knox, Ky., runs about 6,000 Reserve Officer Training Corps cadets through its 30-day required summer drills each year. This year, for the first time, it's putting the cadets through a 13-day field exercise in the simulated war-torn village of "Ashaghi." The cadets are in the role of U.S. forces who just arrived to help preserve the peace. Local village leaders and opposing forces are played by soldiers from U.S. Forces Command, and the test the cadets in real-world scenarios such as village shura security meetings, dealing with insurgencies and securing roads. This is the first year the cadet's training has included the real-world scenarios as their field exercise. Soldiers from U.S. Forces Command run the village all summer, and move in several weeks before the cadets arrive. They live in the container buildings, and will react to the cadets depending on how they perform in each day's scenario. (Tara Copp/Stars and Stripes)
The U.S. Army Cadet Command at Fort Knox, Ky., runs about 6,000 Reserve Officer Training Corps cadets through its 30-day required summer drills each year. This year, for the first time, it's putting the cadets through a 13-day field exercise in the simulated war-torn village of "Ashaghi." The cadets are in the role of U.S. forces who just arrived to help preserve the peace. Local village leaders and opposing forces are played by soldiers from U.S. Forces Command, and the test the cadets in real-world scenarios such as village shura security meetings, dealing with insurgencies and securing roads. This is the first year the cadet's training has included the real-world scenarios as their field exercise.
The U.S. Army Cadet Command at Fort Knox, Ky., runs about 6,000 Reserve Officer Training Corps cadets through its 30-day required summer drills each year. This year, for the first time, it's putting the cadets through a 13-day field exercise in the simulated war-torn village of "Ashaghi." The cadets are in the role of U.S. forces who just arrived to help preserve the peace. Local village leaders and opposing forces are played by soldiers from U.S. Forces Command, and the test the cadets in real-world scenarios such as village shura security meetings, dealing with insurgencies and securing roads. This is the first year the cadet's training has included the real-world scenarios as their field exercise. (Tara Copp/Stars and Stripes)
The U.S. Army Cadet Command at Fort Knox, Ky., runs about 6,000 Reserve Officer Training Corps cadets through its 30-day required summer drills each year. This year, for the first time, it's putting the cadets through a 13-day field exercise in the simulated war-torn village of "Ashaghi." The cadets are in the role of U.S. forces who just arrived to help preserve the peace. Local village leaders and opposing forces are played by soldiers from U.S. Forces Command, and the test the cadets in real-world scenarios such as village shura security meetings, dealing with insurgencies and securing roads. This is the first year the cadet's training has included the real-world scenarios as their field exercise.
The U.S. Army Cadet Command at Fort Knox, Ky., runs about 6,000 Reserve Officer Training Corps cadets through its 30-day required summer drills each year. This year, for the first time, it's putting the cadets through a 13-day field exercise in the simulated war-torn village of "Ashaghi." The cadets are in the role of U.S. forces who just arrived to help preserve the peace. Local village leaders and opposing forces are played by soldiers from U.S. Forces Command, and the test the cadets in real-world scenarios such as village shura security meetings, dealing with insurgencies and securing roads. This is the first year the cadet's training has included the real-world scenarios as their field exercise. (Tara Copp/Stars and Stripes)

FORT KNOX, Ky. — About 6,000 Reserve Officers’ Training Corps cadets will go through a revamped 30-day course at Fort Knox this summer immersed in scenarios that look a lot like the real-life challenges the Army has faced over the last decade in Iraq and Afghanistan.

“Welcome to the village of Ashaghi,” said Lt. Col. Travis Rayfield, who runs the simulated village made up of seven large shipping-container houses spread across a vast field.

In April, weeks before any of the cadets arrived for training, soldiers from U.S. Forces Command transformed those containers into a village and established security scenarios for the cadets. Then the soldiers assumed village roles -- some became elders from surrounding villages, others are shopkeepers and insurgents.

“They spent a lot of time getting the village ready to go, getting into character, using their experience,” Rayfield said. The soldiers running the program live in the village full-time, in the containers, to enhance the realism.

The cornerstone of the imitation village is its mosque. And just like the imam who lives there, every resident of this village has an ulterior motive. The cadets’ success during this training depends on their ability to figure what those motives are and how to correctly respond.

Secretary of Defense Ash Carter observed the overhauled training during a recent visit to Fort Knox. In the scenario he saw, the cadets were in the role of U.S. forces who had just arrived at Ashaghi and its province after local forces repelled the invading force. They were attending a village security meeting; the cadet forces are there to help with security and stability operations. But depending on how they performed, they could end up facing insurgents in the nearby fields.

“It may be the middle of a key leader engagement when the village gets attacked,” said Lt. Col. Chris Belcher, a spokesman for U.S. Army Cadet Command.

The weapons that the soldiers use to “attack” the cadets fire blanks but still provide a realistic experience, Rayfield said.

In the scenario the village elders had a problem: They appreciated that U.S. forces were clearing nearby roadside bombs, but the soldiers’ insistence on inspecting every vehicle was upsetting the locals.

The cadets responsible for solving this dilemma had a choice: Be sensitive to the situation or take a harder line. Either option had its consequences, and they were learning the hard way. In a scenario earlier in the week, their choices resulted in a village civilian’s “death.”

The changes to make the training more realistic were developed “based on lessons learned in Iraq and Afghanistan,” Belcher said.

Over the last decade the Army has put its deploying soldiers through stability operations and counterinsurgency training at facilities like the National Training Center in Fort Irwin, California. This is the first year it offered that training to Army ROTC cadets.

The revamping started last year, when the cadets were also run through scenarios during field work. For example, last year’s scenarios included training the cadets how to react to an ambush. But, Belcher said, the cadets “knew they would face an ambush that day,” making the training less effective.

The new program is immersive and unpredictable, and more like what the cadets would face if they were deployed, he said.

“I will update the next 24 to 48 hours of script based on how this engagement goes,” Rayfield said.

The more realistic approach seems to be more effective, Belcher said, although only the first few regiments have gone through training this summer.

“Early indications are it’s the way we want to go,” he said.

Copp.tara@Stripes.com Twitter:@TaraCopp

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