New operations group will bring training to the troops
January 31, 2006
HOHENFELS, Germany — The Army plans to use a new deployable operations group based here at the Joint Multinational Readiness Center to train up to four brigades a year anywhere in the world starting in 2008.
The group, which evolved to train soldiers participating in exercises in Poland, Romania, Bulgaria and Afghanistan over the past two years, will be tested in the U.S. in August, JMRC Operations Group commander Tom Vandal said Wednesday.
The deployable operations group training will be in addition to JMRC training for as many as four brigades a year in Europe, he said.
“It is a mind-set shift for the three Combat Training Centers (CTCs — which include the JMRC, the Joint Readiness Training Center at Fort Polk, La., and the National Training Center at Fort Irwin, Calif.),” Vandal said. “In the past it has been: ‘We are the training center. Here is our location.’ Units would rotate to that location and go through an exercise. Now the mind-set is we can bring the training to a different location and have the same quality rotation as what we have at a CTC.”
The deployable training group includes observer controllers, civilians able to train local nationals as role-players and an opposing force trained in insurgent and conventional tactics, he said.
Perhaps the most revolutionary aspect of the group is an Exportable Instrumentation System that uses computers, Global Positioning Systems and wireless cameras to monitor the movements and actions of more than 1,000 people and vehicles in a 6.2-mile-by-6.2-mile training area.
Dan Hoeh, director of instrumentation and simulations at JMRC, said the $1.2 million EIS was developed by JMRC staff and is the only one in the world. It includes 22 wireless cameras and another 30 cameras carried by “Viper” teams to feed video to analysts monitoring the training. The analysts can also monitor and record dozens of radio networks used by the training units.
The EIS allows 10 to 12 analysts to monitor and control both real and virtual aspects of the training on computerized maps.
The EIS is modeled on a fixed instrumentation system at Hohenfels. It includes another 42 fixed cameras and can monitor an entire brigade combat team during training, said Hoeh.
The goal is to expand the EIS, which is so far capable of training only a battalion at a time, so that it can cater to a brigade anywhere in the world.
Lt. Col. Karl Slaughenhaupt, deputy commander of the JMRC Operations group, said it will cost another $15 million to upgrade the EIS to cater to a brigade.
The JRTC and the NTC can train a maximum of 24 brigades a year, so the JMRC’s deployable operations group will be vital to meet the Army’s goal of training 33 brigade combat teams at CTCs each year, Vandal said.
The drawdown of U.S. forces in Europe — from more than 200,000 in the 1980s to a projected 25,000 a few years from now — might make some question the need for a CTC in Germany. But the need to train U.S. forces in coalition operations makes it imperative that the JMRC remain, he said.
“Ninety seven percent of coalition partners in Afghanistan and 77 percent of coalition partners in Iraq are from the EUCOM (European Command) area of operations. So you can see importance for our army of coalition operations in the war on terror. Here in Europe we can train U.S. forces on coalition operations and at the same time we train those coalition partners with some of our techniques and raise their proficiency,” he said.