Dust, rugged terrain and desert heat can all hinder training–or can it make for the perfect training? Fortunately, at the National Training Center, the Army’s the best-trained Soldiers fill the ranks of the training brigade here.
Not only does the NTC have Observer, Coach/Trainers in which some are hand-selected, but the 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment stationed here helps train brigades that come here.
“Some say they are the best trained unit in the Army because they are out here every month battling against every brigade that comes here for training,” said Sgt. 1st Class Tony A. Warren.
Warren, native of Seneca, Neb., with the Bronco Team, is an OCT for the psychological operations and civil affairs Soldiers that come through NTC. He has also taken on the role of the brigade effects cell leader. Everything that goes in the villages and towns at NTC in the simulated events are organized by Warren for training the PSYOP and CA Soldiers.
The National Training Center is located in the middle of the Mojave Desert and has a history of more than 15,000 years. From the Indians believed to be here thousands of years ago to 1844, when Capt. John C. Fremont was accompanied by Kit Carson and were the first members of the U.S. Army to visit Fort Irwin.
NTC and Fort Irwin continue to serve as the Army’s premier training center. Many countries have visited here and used it as a model for their training areas.
Isaac Bundy, native of Sacramento, Calif., former military intelligence has worked at NTC for 26 straight years. Bundy works with the threat mitigation team and brings an engaging network piece into the training here.
“Ask China, ask Russia,” said Bundy, “[NTC] is the only place that has [a training area] like this on the planet. A lot of nations have come here. A year after Japan decided to get away from their territorial defense they sent a battalion here to train at the national training center.”
Bundy explained that NTC is one of the most valuable places to do a collective training.
“You can’t do that kind of training at your home station–only here,” said Bundy.
Unlike any other duty station, Soldiers stationed here work an entire rotation straight. A rotation lasts from 14 to 21 days. It isn’t until the rotation has concluded that these Soldiers get a day off.
“It’s a pretty demanding duty station,” said Sgt. 1st Class David P. Smith. “We come out here at least nine times a year to do a rotation. A lot of planning and coordination goes to prepping for a rotation to come through, we effect the entire operational environment.”
Smith, native of Tucson, Ariz., is a civil affairs OC/T here and is part of the bronco team operational group, which is one of 14 OC/T teams.
OC/Ts are Soldiers who counsel, assist, coach and train reserve component, national guard, and active Soldiers during training and exercises.
Warren explained that in order to become an OC/T for his branch, you have to submit your name and every sergeant major across the U.S. Army battalions review them and then hand-pick the “ambassadors.”
“We are the ambassadors,” said Warren. “People that actually do care, they want to train soldiers to get better and from what I’ve seen here almost all OC/Ts I’ve run into here operate at that level and it really is a great place to work.”
The Army Reserve is a professional, diverse and battle-tested team of trusted professionals optimized to win against peer, near-peer, hybrid and irregular threats. This message relayed by Lt. Gen. Charles D. Luckey, Chief of Army Reserve is a strong message shown through training NTC.
“I think as a whole it’s an instrumental in [Army Reserve Soldiers] training,” said Smith. “To be able to come out here for your annual training and really be engrossed into the atmosphere of a combat training away from home … that’s the key, getting away from our home stations to a new location that’s where you’re going to find out what systems work, what you need to refine and how your troops will respond to a harsh environment is really key I think for the reservist and the reservist do very well when they come out here they overcome a lot of problem sets here.”
The National Training Center has proven to be one unlike any other anywhere else around the globe.
“This environment with the dust, the heat and the topography, the wildlife and the vast amount of acreage we have out here really does provide the brigades with the challenges that the only other way to replicate this is to really go to battle,” said Warren. “These brigades are coming from the east coast, the west coast, everywhere. They are actually having to pack up just like they’re going on a deployment, this is a deployment for them and they have to treat it as such. If they come here treating it as anything other than a deployment, they will definitely face some additional challenges. So they come here with the right mindset, (treating) this as a deployment and (keeping) in mind that this is a real event and (not to) look at it as training, (the) event goes a lot smoother for them. In return we’re prepared better as a whole Army–active Army, Reserve and Guard.”