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Joint Readiness Training Center (Airborne)
Joint Readiness Training Center Operations Group (Airborne)

The mission of the Joint Readiness Training Center (Airborne) is to train Soldiers and grow leaders to deploy, fight, and win. Assigned units prepare, deploy, sustain, and redeploy trained and ready forces. The Center acts as a power projection platform to mobilize, validate, deploy, and redeploy active, National Guard, and Army Reserve forces.

The JRTC is the Army's premier combat training center. The JRTC is one of the Army’s 3 “Dirt” Combat Training Centers (CTC) resourced to train infantry brigade task forces and their subordinate elements in the Joint Contemporary Operational Environment. As such the Center conducts tough, realistic, multi-echelon, joint and combined arms training to train leaders to deal with complex situations; to create flexible, skilled Soldiers; and develop highly proficient, cohesive units capable of conducting operations across the full spectrum of conflict. The JRTC is focused on improving unit readiness by providing highly realistic, stressful, joint and combined arms training across the full spectrum of conflict (existing and future).

With great emphasis on realism, the JRTC provides rotational units (BLUEFOR) with the opportunity to conduct joint operations which emphasize contingency force missions. Training rotations are focused on the Contemporary Operational Environment (COE) and Counterinsurgency (COIN) operations. JRTC training scenarios are based on each participating organization's mission essential tasks list and many of the exercises are mission rehearsals for actual operations the organization is scheduled to conduct.

JRTC scenarios allow complete integration of Air Force and other military services, as well as host-nation and civilian role players. The exercise scenarios replicates many of the unique situations and challenges a unit may face to include host national officials and citizens, insurgents and terrorists, news media coverage, and non-governmental organizations.

Observer/Controllers (O/C) help make JRTC training effective. The O/C's have a duty to the training unit and the Army to observe unit performance, control engagements and operations, teach doctrine, coach to improve unit performance, monitor safety and conduct professional After Action Reviews (AARs). O/C's are required to have successfully performed the duties of their counter-part. They constantly strive for personal and professional development, and are well versed in current operational doctrine and tactics, techniques and procedures.

AARs provide immediate feedback for each element, from platoon through brigade task force. AAR 's provide impartial feedback, that encourage interaction and discussion of unit strengths and weaknesses by all members of the unit. Every AAR orients on a specific mission and /or system, identifying good and bad trends, and provides units the opportunity to determine not only what their weaknesses are, but who is going to fix that weakness.

The objective is to make sure a soldier's worst day is at the Center and not in combat. The Center teaches soldiers how to think, to be alert, and observe enemy patterns and how to best exploit them. The training provided by JRTC has a tremendous impact on the readiness of US Army special operations and conventional forces.

Building on the success of the National Training Center, which began training armored and mechanized forces in 1981, the Army also recognized that light infantry forces needed similar unit training. As a result the Joint Readiness Training Center (JRTC) was born. JRTC training began in 1987 on a test basis at Fort Chaffee, Arkansas. The Center's headquarters was then relocated to Little Rock Air Force Base, Arkansas.

As a result of the Base Realignment and Closure recommendations approved by Congress in 1991, the JRTC was relocated to Fort Polk, Louisiana. At a redesignation ceremony on 12 March 1993, Fort Polk made the official transition from the home of an Infantry division to the home of a combat training center. As a result, the Headquarters Command, Fort Polk was realigned to provide support to the new activity, with the unit's informal name change from the Devil Troop Brigade to the Warrior Brigade on 20 June 1993 to reflect the shift. The official opening of the JRTC was on 20 August 1993. The first training rotation took place at Fort Polk in September 1993.

JRTC's heavy integration of Air Force and other military services, as well as host-nation and civilian personnel, made its training uniquely realistic. As in a real world situation, light forces depended on the Air Force for airlift, close-air support and resupply. Air Force units were involved in many JRTC exercises and the Center itself was designated as an airborne qualified command. Units from the Navy and Marine Corps were also involved, as were military units from foreign countries. The JRTC's emphasis on joint-service teamwork was seen as even more crucial as the United States reduced the overall size of its military force following the end of the Cold War.

The combined-arms nature of most contingency missions had also drawn heavy armored units into JRTC training. Contingency and special operations soldiers, including paratroopers, air assault soldiers, Special Forces and Rangers, were among the first called in a military crisis. They had to deploy on short notice and be prepared to fight upon arrival. In most situations, however, they could expect to operate with heavy armored units equipped with tanks and armored personnel carriers. During JRTC training, heavy and light units teamed up for a true-to-life training experience.

The future battlefield was expected to feature highly lethal and mobile weapons systems, and violent combat would determine the victor, sometimes in a matter of days. JRTC's training strategy provided the key to victory on any future battlefield; leaders with warrior skills and mental agility, and forces trained and ready to win that first battle.

In 2004, the Joint Readiness Training Center's headquarters and that of the Joint Readiness Training Center Operation Group, which had been created in 1993 when the Center opened at Fort Polk, were combined into a single entity, Headquarters Joint Readiness Training Center and Joint Readiness Training Center Operations Group. In 2006, the 1st Combat Support Brigade was activated at Fort Polk, taking over for the Headquarters Command, Fort Polk, which had been inactivated as the garrison command was reorganized into US Army Garrison Fort Polk, part of Installation Management Command. In 2008, this unit was redesignated as 1st Maneuver Enhancement Brigade. By 2012, the JRTC had assigned, in addition to the elements of its Operations Group, the 162nd Infantry Brigade, the 1st Maneuver Enhancement Brigade, the 5th Aviation Battalion, and the 115th Combat Support Hospital.

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