Many Pieces Come Together for ‘Key Resolve’
By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service
SEOUL, South Korea, March 11, 2010 With a major threat immediately to their north, the South Korean military and U.S. forces based here recognize the need to be, in the words of their top commander, “prepared to fight and win if we had to go to war today.”
Marines from 3rd Marine Logistics Battalion and Republic of Korean Marines stand at attention, March 9, 2010, before training at the ROK Mountain Warfare Training Center, at Camp Mujuk, Republic of Korea. The U.S. battalion is stationed in Okinawa, Japan, and is in Korea to participate in Key Resolve/Foal Eagle 2010. U.S. Navy photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Bobbie G. Attaway
(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
Yet, Army Gen. Walter “Skip” Sharp, along with his troops at United Nations Command, Combined Forces Command, and U.S. Forces Korea, recognize that conducting major field exercises here is no easy task.
Training areas are limited, so it’s impossible to conduct live training with large-scale forces. Meanwhile, traffic congestion inhibits troop movements to and from training areas, and political and environmental sensitivities always come into play.
The solution? It’s under way now, as Combined Forces Command in Korea conducts Key Resolve 2010, one of the world’s largest simulated exercises. The only larger one, Ulchi Freedom Guardian, takes place in South Korea every August.
“If you measure the exercise in terms of the level of effort, the number of sites, the number of simulations, the number of work stations, the magnitude of the exercise command and control system and so forth, there is no other exercise that comes close to what we do here,” said Jude Shea, director of the Korea Battle Simulation Center at U.S. Army Garrison Yongsan.
This year’s Key Resolve kicked off March 8 to drill Combined Forces Command’s command and staff procedures, and ultimately, its ability to defend South Korea against an attack.
The exercise overcomes training constraints by combining live, virtual and constructive training.
Live training, Shea explained, involves real people, out under field conditions, using real equipment. Virtual training involves real people operating in simulators with the same characteristics as real systems, but using computer-generated scenarios. In constructive training, simulated people use simulated equipment housed in computer models and simulations.
Bringing these three methods into play is a massive undertaking – one that involves thousands of participants, modeling work stations and computer systems at dozens of sites throughout South Korea, as well as Japan and the United States.
The training focuses on two basic training audiences from the U.S. and South Korean militaries, Shea explained. “Players” operate from wartime command posts under tactical conditions, issuing operational plans, orders and directives to the “gamers.”
The gamers, based in simulation centers throughout South Korea, translate that information into computer orders.
As the friendly forces operate during the exercise, a constructive 600-member opposing force goes through essentially the same process, with no competitive edge.
“One of the things we work very hard to accomplish is to not provide the players with any more information in this exercise than we would expect them to have in the real world,” Shea said. “So on both sides, [the] red side and blue side, there is fog of war, there is friction, there is some information that is not correct -- just as it would be in real warfare.”
The participants are left to “sort through that, and try and figure out what is correct, and react to it,” Shea said.
The tension that results – with both sides fighting to win -- gets played out in simulated combat. It determines which side wins, at least at the tactical level, and assesses casualties, equipment damage and other outcomes, Shea said.
That information is fed back to the gamers, who relay it to the players, starting the cycle all over again.
As this process takes place, other behind-the-scenes participants facilitate the exercise, Shea explained. Controllers regulate the exercise to make sure training objectives can be met. Observers posted with the players and gamers monitor their actions to help develop after-action reports.
The Combined Battle Simulation Center, collocated with the U.S.-Korea Battle Simulation Center, serves as the exercise hub. The operational force is based at another simulation facility, the Warrior Training Center at Camp Casey.
Several other simulation organizations are participating in the exercise, Shea said. These include the Korea Air Simulation Center on Osan Air Base and South Korea’s Army Battle Command Training Program in Daejeon. The 3rd Marine Expeditionary Force’s Tactical Exercise Control Group, based at Camp Courtney in Okinawa, Japan, also is involved
In addition, various sites throughout South Korea and the United States are serving as model host sites, Shea said. Walker Center at U.S. Army Garrison Yongsan is hosting the ground and intelligence models, with a backup intelligence model at Fort Leavenworth, Kan. Air models for the exercise are being hosted at Osan Air Base, and the naval models, at a temporary simulation center set up at a South Korean navy base in Cheong Hae.
Meanwhile, Fort Lee, Va., is hosting the logistics model, and Shriever Air Force Base, Colo., hosts the space mode.
A wide-area communications network links these far-flung participants during the exercise. “By the use of modern communications technology, we are able to link all of these sites and many others together, so we are virtually all located in the same work space,” Shea said.
Four days into Key Resolve 2010, Sharp offered rave reviews about the training realism being offered, particularly in promoting command and control collaboration and senior decision-making capabilities. He also expressed appreciation of all that was involved in setting up and running an exercise of Key Resolve’s magnitude.
It reaffirms what Sharp called the top priority for members of Combined Forces Korea, whether during exercises like Key Resolve, or as they carry out their mission every day.
That, he said, is to be ready to defend South Korea against aggression at a moment’s notice, “prepared to fight and win if we had to go to war today.”
“Whether it be at this top theater level, like you are observing during this exercise, or down to the individual soldier level, where they are learning how to fire their weapons, and at every level in between, we train every day to be prepared to execute our mission here,” he said.