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2nd BCT Soldiers wrap up largest JRTC rotation ever

April 5, 2012

By Capt. Shane Sandretto, 2nd Brigade Combat Team PAO

FORT POLK, La. -- The 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division (LI), formed the nexus of the largest Joint Readiness Training Center rotation ever and single largest military exercise around Fort Polk, La., since the Louisiana Maneuvers of 1940.

Rotation 12-05, designed to prepare 48 Security Force Advisory Teams, most from the 2nd Brigade, 101st Airborne Division, for deployment to Regional Command East (RC-E) in Afghanistan, was significant in the fact that the SFATs were the smallest element in the training area.

Soldiers of 2nd BCT were joined by 1st Squadron, 6th Cavalry (Aviation) Regiment from Fort Riley, Kan., and 109th Military Intelligence Battalion from Fort Lewis, Wash., to form the battlespace-owning unit and enablers for the rotation. The brigade also was augmented by more than 1,000 Soldiers from 1st and 4th Brigades, 10th Mountain Division (LI), to form the Host Nation Security Forces.

In total, some 6,000 Soldiers conducted training, but their primary function at JRTC was to set conditions similar to what the SFAT teams (some 500 Soldiers) will find when they reach RC-E.

Even the opposing forces, or OPFOR, outnumbered the primary focus SFATs with the famed 509th "Geronimos" playing the role of the enemy and augmented by numerous civilian role players who made up townspeople and host nation governmental officials. All together, some 1,500 Soldiers and civilians set the enemy and civilian conditions for the 500 SFATs.

"A normal rotation has approximately 4,500 Soldiers committed to it," said Maj. Joseph Johnson, rotational planner from the JRTC Operations Group. "Rotation 12-05 had about 8,000."

"This rotation was planned and executed very quickly," Johnson continued. "We normally begin planning at 180 days out from execution. We planned and executed this one in 70 days. The sheer size of the rotation definitely stressed the sustainment systems here at Fort Polk."
Col. Dennis Sullivan, 2nd BCT commander, set three training goals before the rotation: no Soldier injured, no equipment lost and get better every day.

According to Sullivan, those goals were met and then some.

The brigade was not only able to stress its systems and improve upon its standard operating procedures, it identified shortcomings and either fixed them or deve- loped the training path to do so very soon.

Brigade leaders also worked tirelessly to integrate the attached units from other posts into the Commando Team so that everyone involved, especially those deploying very soon, got the most that JRTC has to offer.

"The brigade leadership did a great job bringing all elements together," said Command Sgt. Maj. Ryan Ramsey, senior enlisted adviser for 109th Military Intelligence Battalion.

During the combined arms rehearsal, which involved every unit in the rotation, role playing Host Nation Security Forces included, Sullivan renamed the combined task force to Team Naw-Ruz 1392. Naw-Ruz, meaning "new year" in Dari, in honor of New Year's Day and the year on the Persian calendar, as the exercise began on the first day of the year 1392 on that calendar.

Former Afghan military officers now employed at Fort Polk as Host Nation Security Force commanders felt that gesture went a long way to solidifying commitment between the two nation's forces and commended Sullivan on his choice of names.

Col. Daniel Walwrath, commander of SFAT forces headed to RC-E, added that communication at all levels and across all branches of U.S. and host nation forces will be the key to success.

While rotation 12-05 didn't compare to the 20 divisions involved in the Louisiana Land Maneuvers of 1940, it was nearly double the size of any JRTC rotation ever conducted to date.

"I believe we have set the foundation for future training of advisory units heading to Afghan- istan," Johnson said.

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