Brave Rifles execute decisive-action mission at NTC

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Army photograph by SSgt. Alex Manne
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Stryker vehicles with 3rd Cavalry Regiment, halt during a convoy movement at the National Training Center, Fort Irwin, Calif., Feb. 12, 2016. The National Training Center conducts tough, realistic, training to prepare brigade combat teams and other units for combat.

“Train as you fight” is a common phrase uttered among Soldiers. It’s a phrase that alludes to the training mentality to be prepared to deploy in a moment’s notice, and that’s exactly what the 3rd Cavalry Regiment did here at the National Training Center – they trained for an upcoming deployment.

The 3rd Cavalry Regiment departed, Feb. 1, for a month-long exercise to receive tough, realistic training at NTC in the harsh desert environment of Fort Irwin, Calif.

“NTC provides that ability to face a uniformed enemy element with the same capabilities as us, so we can fully prepare for any mission or deployment we may encounter,” said Maj. Frank Hooker, regimental executive officer.

More than 6,000 soldiers and government employees deployed in support of the Brave Rifles’ mission.

“The reason we bring all of these elements here [to NTC] is for the training value,” said Hooker. “We wouldn’t necessarily have these assets organic to ourselves, but we would have them when we deploy.”

Each unit that undergoes training at NTC is given a scenario. Brave Rifles’ scenario was they were deployed to a fictional country, Atropia, to assist its citizens from an enemy force, the Donovians.

In the scenario, the fictional country of Donovia wants to dissolve the sovereignty of Atropia though the use of propaganda and militia forces, with the 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment played the opposing “enemy” force.

“Generally, we have the same assets that the unit receiving the training has in order to simulate force-on-force; it helps to add a realistic feel to training,” said Capt. Joseph Barnes, a planner with 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment.

A Soldier assigned 3rd Cavalry Regiment, 1st Cavalry Division, engages enemy fighters during a clearance operation on a mock town at the National Training Center, Fort Irwin, Calif., Feb. 18, 2016. NTC provides soldiers with tough, realistic, training to prepare brigade combat teams and other units for combat.

Unlike many previous NTC rotations that focused on counterinsurgency, this rotation was a decisive action mission.

“One of the misconceptions is that the decisive action mission doesn’t incorporate a counterinsurgency mission, but it does,” said Hooker. “Some of the same areas we actually combat against in a deployed counterinsurgency environment is what we’ve done out here in a decisive action rotation.”

“If we can successfully accomplish a DA rotation at NTC, we are better prepared to fight a COIN mission as well,” added Hooker.
So what exactly is a DA mission like at NTC and how does it differ from a COIN mission training?

The Brave Rifles strategically placed a conglomerate of combat assets in a “new” environment to solve tactical problems based off of threats across the Army’s operational environment, versus training off of well-known deployment locations.

“Our mission was to defend the borders from the enemies of Atropia and provide assistance to the Atropian government,” said Hooker.
The DA training mission here [at NTC] was in accordance with the unified land operations doctrine, which focuses on combined-arms maneuvers and the ability to provide attack, secure and end conflicts, said Barnes.

Rotation 16-04 operated in four phases with a two-day live five event for the artillery assets as the culminating event.
“Without a shadow of a doubt, we are ready for whatever mission that we deploy to because of the training we received at NTC,” Hooker said.

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