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Arctic Anvil preps Alaskan Army units for readiness training

Canadian Army Maj. Chelsea Anne Braybrook, commander of Bravo Company, 1st Battalion, Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry, walks past her Coyote Armoured Vehicle at Donnelly Training Area near Ft. Greely, Alaska, during the Arctic Anvil exercise, July 24, 2016.

JUSTIN CONNAHER/U.S. ARMY PHOTO

By WYATT OLSON | STARS AND STRIPES Published: August 4, 2016

For eight new commanders, Arctic Anvil offered a chance to hit the ground running.

“(We) all took command the last week in June,” Col. Kevin J. Lambert, commander of the 1st Stryker Brigade, 25th Infantry Division, said of the drills that help prepare soldiers for readiness training at centers across the country. “So this was our first opportunity to really see our organization, let alone train the organization … Every leader ought to have the opportunity to start their tenure like this.”

One of the goals of the international exercise, which included a unit from the Canadian Army’s 1 Canadian Mounted Brigade Group, was to give the Stryker brigade home-station training in preparation for its January rotation to Fort Irwin National Training Center in California.

That center, along with the Joint Readiness Training Center in Louisiana and the Joint Multinational Readiness Center in Germany, provides Army units with the service’s top readiness training.

Gen. Robert Abrams, who as head of U.S. Army Forces Command oversees the service’s combat corps, has directed that units receive a higher level of “decisive-action” readiness training before going to one of the three centers, Lambert said.

“He expects that home-station training is getting its focus on decisive action, and we’re being trained to a higher level,” he said.

Arctic Anvil, which wrapped up Wednesday, helped accomplish that with the support of the 196th Infantry Brigade’s Hawaii-based Joint Pacific Multinational Readiness Capability, an integrated system of deployable shelters, lasers, software and hardware that links the battle space with off-site observers. The software collects and stores information about soldiers’ performance that is then used for feedback, either in real time or after the exercise.

This was the first time JPMRC deployed out of Hawaii, where the 25th Infantry has been using it for home-station training for several years.

“They were the architecture behind the last three weeks,” Lambert said. “They exported all that and set it up here.”

And while it would be unfair to compare JPMRC’s capabilities to the big-three training centers, he said, “they were able to deliver a training event that I’m confident [U.S. Army Alaska] by itself would not have been able to do.”

Arctic Anvil was also part of the newest twist on Pacific Pathways: “reverse” Pathways, by which troops from partner nations are arriving in Hawaii, Washington and Alaska for training with American soldiers.

Pacific Pathways strings together already-established Army exercises with allies and partner nations throughout the Pacific, creating expeditionary-style deployments of two to three months. The goal is to increase the Army’s presence and readiness in the Pacific.

Most soldiers who participated in the exercise belong to the Stryker brigade and the 1st Battalion, 52nd Aviation Regiment. Soldiers from the Iowa National Guard’s 1st Battalion, 133rd Infantry Regiment, posed as enemy forces in the training scenario, which involved four major brigade operations.

Soldiers from the Alaska National Guard also joined the drills.

olson.wyatt@stripes.com
Twitter: @WyattWOlson

A camouflaged U.S. Army Stryker vehicle is defensively positioned on the battlefield at Donnelly Training Area, Alaska, July 21, 2016.
MARION BASILIALI/U.S. ARMY PHOTO

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