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Cutting-Edge Combat Training Prepares Soldiers for Future Fights

By David Mays
Special to American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Nov. 5, 2007 – Today’s soldiers are better prepared for battle thanks to revolutionary mission-specific training, an Army officer said today.

“It’s not your father’s national training center,” Army Col. Robert Abrams said. “It is a full-spectrum-capable training center that is as close a replication of today’s fight that we’re in and is certainly postured for future fights.”

Abrams is deputy commander of the U.S. Army Combined Arms Center at Fort Leavenworth, Kan., where he supervises policies and procedures for collective training on behalf of the center and U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command. He told online journalists and “bloggers” during a conference call how training has dramatically transformed in just a few years.

“The first thing that struck me is the simulation,” Abrams said, looking back on an exercise in which he participated four years ago before deploying to Iraq. “It was basically the Cold War version of the corps battle simulation system. Not much had changed. And everything that we did with regards to the counterinsurgency fight and the full-spectrum fight that we were going to face in Baghdad was really replicated using hand-written ‘measles,’ as we called them, to help drive certain actions and orders within the division and decisions for the division commander.”

A new “joint non-kinetic effects module,” which feeds ever-changing ground scenarios into the exercise has replaced the antiquated hand-written one, Abrams explained.

“We’re working on a system to effectively link live, virtual and constructive simulations all on one network,” he said. “Our goal is worldwide, anywhere to be able to build a training environment that can actually link seamlessly for the training force, units that are training live, units that are training virtual in simulators, and units that are training in a constructive environment.”

Preparing soldiers specifically for their next mission, the colonel explained, is a big part of today’s full-spectrum training.

“As a commander, your first priority is to protect the force,” he said. “And we protect the force by giving them the confidence in their own ability to survive and conduct operations on the battlefield.”

Another critical piece of today’s training module is information operations, the colonel explained, something the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have brought into painful focus.

“We've learned this lesson the hard way in this current fight, that tactical actions oftentimes transfer into strategic consequences, especially in terms of the way it's presented in the media,” Abrams said. “And so we've got to have savvy leaders at every level, not just brigade- but battalion- and company-level that understand the consequences of their actions or inactions in these full-spectrum operations.”

(David Mays works for the New Media branch of American Forces Press Service.)

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U.S. Army Combined Arms Center

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