Troops getting ready for Warpath I-03 exercise in S. Korea
TAEGU, South Korea — The report that a U.S. bomb had gone astray, causing civilian casualties, was only part of a battle drill used to train Army officers in South Korea in the rigors of wartime staff work.
But for members of the Army’s 2nd Infantry Division who had to work through the “collateral damage” problem, it was about as stressful and challenging as the real thing.
“This kind of situation was exactly what we would be doing — or one of the same types of things we would be doing, if we were actually fighting,” said Maj. Curtis Roberts, a 2nd ID spokesman.
Warpath I-03 is a computer-assisted, command-post exercise scheduled to begin Monday. The four-day session will involve about 2,000 division troops — generals, brigade commanders, staff officers across the rank spectrum, and some sergeants and junior enlisted soldiers. Warpath is one of four command-post exercises the division holds yearly to train the division command and staff to work in a wartime headquarters setting, according to Roberts.
The Army does not publicly disclose details of the actual Warpath scenario for security reasons, Roberts added.
Roberts said, however, that the exercise typically involves two opposing sides playing out mock-war situations on computers, watched by a team of observer-controllers.
Senior commanders and their subordinates are presented with a basic military situation and must exercise their judgment as to how best to defeat the enemy force. Their orders and other decisions are fed into the computer system, Roberts said.
“They are actually executing the war-fighting tasks that they would execute — fire mission, ground movements, task organization changes … there is a virtual enemy that have their own set of tasks they’re trying to accomplish,” said John Lewis, chief analyst with the Korean Battle Simulation Center on Yongsan Garrison in Seoul.
“They have to make … decisions very rapidly, and then you can present them with the results of their decisions,” said Col. Daniel Bolger, the division’s chief of staff, referring to the exercise participants. Such training “builds teamwork, and it obviously builds confidence that you can function as a team.”
“Helicopter pilots could be told, ‘Fly from point A to point B. Attack target such-and-such,’” said Lewis of typical Warpath mock-battle problems. “Logisticians have to execute logistical requirements like moving fuel, dealing with casualties.”
The conclusion of Warpath is capped with an after-action review, in which observer-controllers comment on what was done well and what could have been done better.
“The whole simulation exercise causes people to go through their military decision-making process,” Lewis said. “And they’re going to apply their judgment and training, they’re going to acquire lessons … to improve themselves and their organizations.”
“Any time you can train realistically for combat, you’re better prepared for it,” said Roberts. “The bottom line is readiness.”