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Fires in the Close Fight Newsletter

Fires Training XXI

A Training Strategy for the 21st Century

by Colonel (Retired) John K. Anderson

Previously published in the January-February 2002 Field Artillery Magazine

The strategic environment has changed dramatically since the end of the Cold War. In broad categories, Figure 1 outlines these changes. Each category imposes corresponding adjustments to the way the Army must organize, equip, train and execute its missions.

Figure 1: Changing Strategic Environment

The changes in the threat we face are, perhaps, the biggest driver of changes to the way the Army trains. Potential adversaries are developing capabilities more suited to their cultures, circumstances and their perceived enemy. These include capabilities to counter those of the most advanced army in the world: the US Army.

The threat in the contemporary operating environment spans the spectrum from disrupting our way of life to violent terrorist acts, such as those on September 11th, to major theater war. For example, based on the terrorist threat, the content of our training now will put more emphasis on homeland defense, force protection, psychological operations, facilities security and other areas.

The threat levels that tend to be the most difficult to deal with and train to are those at the higher end of the spectrum. Aware of their vulnerabilities to our precision strike and control of the air, adversaries will attempt to avoid massing their forces in linear echelons.

Instead, they will employ selective precision strike and rapid tactical and operational maneuver from areas of sanctuary and other asymmetrical actions aimed at continuous engagement. They can be expected to disperse and operate from areas of physical and moral sanctuary, often located in complex and urban terrain and often using noncombatants and manmade and protected structures as shields. From such locations, the enemy will attempt to initiate force-on-force battles at the time and place of his choosing, integrating decentralized nonlinear maneuver and precision fires in simultaneous operations and using unconventional and special purpose forces.

The opponent’s goal is to offset our technological advantages by fighting during periods of reduced visibility in an environment in which they can gain sanctuary from our effects. They will attempt to preserve their military forces as a means of ensuring continuation in power.

This changing threat means our future Army requires inherent versatility and adaptive soldiers and leaders. The Chief of Staff of the Army directed implementation of the Army Transformation Plan. Fires Training XXI is the Field Artillery’s training strategy for maintaining readiness as we transform the branch.

This article provides an overview of Fires Training XXI and an explanation on how units use it. The strategy covers all aspects of FA and fire support (FS) training and is designed to ensure a high state of readiness. It ensures well-trained soldiers and adaptive and multi-functional leaders and battle staffs that can synchronize fires in combined arms operations against the enemy in the contemporary operating environment. In this regard, battle staffs are treated similarly to weapons crews in the strategy and are trained at the same frequencies.

The strategy integrates combined arms training strategies (CATS), artillery tables (ATs), training support packages (TSPs) and mission training plans (MTPs) to identify the training events and resources to maintain both individual and unit readiness, based on the unit commander’s mission-essential task list (METL). It applies to both the Active and Reserve Components.

The strategy has three training priorities. First, we train tactically and technically proficient small units (sections, platoons and batteries) capable of executing METL tasks to standard while operating relatively independently in diverse environments. Next, we develop adaptive leaders and soldiers capable across the operational spectrum anywhere in the world. And third, we train battle staffs that can synchronize fires in combined arms operations. This latter training is no longer implied—the strategy specifies training events for staffs at all levels.

Fires Training XXI is maintained on the Fort Sill Home Page (http://155. 219.39.98). This allows training developers in the FA School at Fort Sill, Oklahoma, to keep the strategy up-to-date based on input from the field.

The strategy covers the three components of training—institutional, unit and self-development. Figure 2 provides a summary of the contents of the strategy.

1. Introduction
Explains purpose and scope and the Army Training Strategy.
Prescribes delivery methods for automated systems approach to training (ASAT), Reimer Digital Library Data Repository (RDL DR) and standard Army training system (SATS)).
2. Individual Training
Describes individual development courses.
Lists types of training available.
Defines tasks for Master Gunners.
Lists distance learning (DL) methods available for individual training.
Lists TADSS available for individual training.
3. Institutional Training
Describes elements of institutional training.
Defines initial entry training (IET) content.
Directs transition from “process” to “experiential” leader training.
Directs new DL course for chief warrant officers two.
Defines categories of digital training.
Defines FA School DL program.
4. Unit and Battle Staff Training
Describes when and how to train what to whom and where.
Explains how to plan training.
Illustrates combined arms training strategies (CATS).
Defines the five levels of battle staff training.
Defines training frequencies by the training readiness category TRC) of the unit.
Lists CATS events and frequencies for all echelons.
Describes the benefits of using SATS.
5. Self-Development Training
Prescribes self-development as the third component of training.
Defines a goal of 40 hours per year.
Explains the components of directed and self-motivated training.
Details the CSA Army Professional Reading Program.
6. System Training
Describes the purpose of synchronizing training, doctrine, combat and material developments.
Defines responsibilities during phases of the acquisition cycle.
Ensures training products for operational training (OT), new equipment training (NET) and institutional training.
Prescribes the use of ASAT for all training development.
Describes NET methods and responsibilities.
7. Training Aids, Devices, Simulators and Simulations (TADSS)
Lists current and programmed TADSS (individual and section levels).
Specifies the types of events for TADSS use.
Describes available sim-stim devices for levels I-III battle staff training.
Defines objective levels I-III training devices.
Describes devices for levels IV-V battle staff training.
Defines objective levels IV-V training devices.
A Individual Training Strategies
Lists tasks by skill levels.
Outlines the training location.
Lists the types of training products available for each task.
B Institutional Digital Training
Outlines the strategy to conduct institutional digital training.
Outlines the four categories of digital training.
Defines the category of training required by duty position.
Defines in which institutional course the training will be conducted.
C Unit and Battle Staff Training
Contains an annex for every type of Field Artillery unit.
Lists crawl, walk, run CATS events for every echelon.
Lists required gates, frequencies and multi-echelon opportunities.
Lists TADSS, training support packages (TSPs) and artillery tables (ATs).
Lists CATS, TSPs and ATs hyperlinked to the FA School’s home page.
Defines ammunition requirements.
Contains Bradley fire support vehicle (BFIST) gunnery training strategy.

D Chief of Staff of the Army (CSA) Professional Reading Program

Lists reading by junior, mid-grade and senior officers and NCOs.
E System Strategies
Lists tasks by each military occupational specialty (MOS) and skill level for each system.
Depicts where each task initially is taught.
Provides system-specific tasks only.
Lists current and programmed TADSS by system.
Explains the levels of training for which the TADSS are appropriate.
G Implementation Strategy
Outlines specific unit and institutional responsibilities.
Specifies the responsible department/directorate within the FA School.

Figure 2: Summary of Fires Training XXI Contents (

Planning Training. The first step in developing a training plan is to determine the unit METL following the procedures outlined in FM 7-10 [25-101] Battle Focused Training. As part of this procedure, the commander identifies specific missions for his unit using the unit’s MTP, the collective tasks that support the missions and the individual tasks that support the collective tasks.

The commander then gets his unit’s CATS off the Fort Sill Home Page. CATS outlines how many training events (both individual and collective) the unit can accomplish in a training year.

CATS uses the Crawl-Walk-Run gated methodology and takes into account personnel turnover and preparations for a capstone training event, such as an external evaluation (EXEVAL) or a Combat Training Center (CTC) rotation. The commander then tailors CATS for his unit’s METL.

Unit trainers use standard Army training system (SATS) software to design the training. SATS has evolved from a system that primarily produced training schedules into one that provides substantially expanded automation support for unit training management functions based on current training doctrine. It is a Windows-based point-and-click system. SATS supports planning, resourcing, evaluating and assessing training, as well as tracks operational readiness.

Next the commander goes to the home page to get the TSP for the CATS events. The TSPs tell him how to train each collective event. He also gets the Army school system (TASS) courseware or computer-based instruction (CBI) or other multimedia products that tell him how to train the individual events. Finally, he again uses SATS to develop a database that tracks all the information: the status of training, requirements for and expenditure of resources, and an evaluation of training effectiveness.

Using the Strategy. Fires Training XXI defines the optimum frequencies for executing Crawl-Walk-Run CATS training events by training readiness category (TRC). Active units are designated as TRC A, Army National Guard enhanced brigades are designated TRC B and all other Field Artillery units are designated TRC C. The training event frequencies for the TRCs depicted in Figure 3 are the minimum to sustain readiness.

Figure 3: Training Frequencies for Training Readiness Categories (TRCs) of A Units (Active), B Units (Army National Guard and Enhanced Brigades) and C Units (All Other FA Units)

The strategy next defines the CATS events and the frequencies to conduct them for all units from section or crew through the corps artillery. See Figure 4 for TRC A units and Figure 5 for TRC B and C units. These events have been chosen to ensure TRC A units sustain readiness in the band of excellence and TRC B and C units can attain this level during annual training and post-mobilization training.

Figure 4: Training Strategy for Training Readiness Category (TRC) A Units (Active)

Figure 5: Training Strategy for Training Readiness Category (TRC) B Units (National Guard Enhanced Brigades) and TRC C Units (Except Active, All Other FA Units)

For example in Figure 4, a TRC A battalion staff conducts weekly digital sustainment training, a monthly staff exercise (STAFFEX) and a quarterly command post exercise (CPX). These are specific CATS events developed by the FA School. The trainer goes to his unit’s annex in “Appendix C Unit and Battle Staff Training” of Fires Training XXI to get the details of his unit’s training events. Appendix C contains the required gates, multi-echelon opportunities, and the TADSS, TSPs and ATs available. The CATS events, TSPs and ATs are hyperlinked to the Fort Sill Home Page.

The trainer then views the CATS to determine the tasks to be trained, the duration of the event and the resources required to conduct that event. He then downloads the TSP for use in planning and conducting the event and views the applicable AT to determine the gunnery tasks to be trained. Using SATS, the trainer also imports CATS from the Reimer Digital Library Data Repository (RDL DR) at and modifies CATS, as necessary, based on his METL.

These procedures are applicable for trainers at every echelon; CATS events have been developed for every echelon.

A key to the success of the Fires Training XXI training strategy is the TSPs the FA School is developing for digital sustainment training and Run-level CATS events for all units. The TSPs minimize unit training development requirements, leaving more time for unit training.

A TSP consists of a digital scenario, maps, operations orders, etc; a master events list; training evaluation outlines; and a list of the resources required to conduct the event. They are easily modified for local training areas.

Several TSPs are available on the Fort Sill Home Page ( Other TSPs are being developed. (Note: TSPs cannot be downloaded from the RDL DR with the current version of SATS.)

Upon conclusion of the training event, the unit trainer again uses the SATS terminal to update resources used, capture observations and prepare after-action reviews (AARs), assess the training and unit readiness—perhaps to prepare an automated quarterly training briefing.

Fires Training XXI is a strategy that builds on proven training doctrine by incorporating new and emerging methodologies with the goal of developing competent, confident and adaptive soldiers and leaders in FA active and National Guard units. The strategy synchronizes tools to conduct individual, institutional, unit, battle staff and systems training. It will help ensure the FA maintains a high state of readiness as we move into the future.

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