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JOINT READINESS TRAINING CENTER

by Senior Observer Controllers, JRTC


1. INTRODUCTION.

This section provides an update on the Joint Readiness Training Center (JRTC), some new initiatives at the center, but most importantly, training trends and observations over the last six months.

a. Initiatives: The recent four-star CTC Review with the Army's leadership reaffirmed our charter. It is to provide the most demanding "warfighting" scenarios that require units to fight the full spectrum of their systems in a synchronized manner to achieve success. The two maneuver battalion rotations, the addition of the Armor and Mechanized Company Team and the integration of Air Base Ground Defense (ABGD) units greatly enhanced the training experience for the Brigade Task Force. Other recent operational initiatives are the addition of a small Aviation Brigade Headquarters as a "white cell" planning headquarters and Special Operations Forces (SOF) port and off-shore targets for special reconnaissance and direct action missions. To improve the training environment, JRTC routinely employs the Tactical Radar Threat Generator (TRTG) to simulate radar signatures from SA4, SA6, SA8 and ZSU23-4 systems, threat aircraft (MI24, MI2, MI8 and AN2) for reconnaissance, air assault, attack and chemical spray missions.

Civilians on the battlefield (COB) positions have been upgraded with permanent role players. We upgraded our battlefield effects program to include safer special effects for demolitions and secondary explosions using naphthalene and the Demolition Effects Simulator and added MILES fire-back capability to our live-fire targets to improve live-fire realism. The Leader Training Program (LTP) has been reformatted to better enhance the brigade and battalion staff training experience and replicate the TCDC experience. We recently installed a JANUS computer simulation to allow the brigade and battalion staffs to fight their plans on the system. We began an SOF LTP at the unit's home station to aid forward operating bases (FOBs) in the development of supporting plans to the Joint Special Operations Task Force OPLAN. Our new SOF command post exercise (CPX) challenges the FOB and adds more realistic demands on the FOB staff.

b. JRTC's move to Fort Polk, LA: All is on schedule for the JRTC's move to Fort Polk. The JRTC headquarters accepted command of Fort Polk on 12 Mar 93. The move to Fort Polk will be completed after Rotation 93-7 in May 93. The first rotation at Fort Polk will be in Sep 93. The consolidation of the training center in one permanent location will enhance our ability to achieve the Army leadership's vision for JRTC.

c. Training Emphasis Areas: The paragraphs that follow cover a great deal of information on what JRTC Observer/ Controllers (O/Cs) saw as training trends during the last six months. Within all these observations, there were two common themes: the need to emphasize staff training and squad and platoon training. Brigade and Battalion staffs need a good practiced SOP. Without it, commanders will never get the necessary products from the command estimate process to synchronize the TF fight. The SOP should lay out who is responsible for what product, when it is done and who reviews it. At squad and platoon levels, unit training should focus on the close-in (direct fire) fight. Junior NCOs and officers must train their units to execute precise battle drills and soldiers must hit their targets, whether stationary or moving. Junior leaders must also train to integrate combat multipliers into the close-in fight: indirect fire with maneuver, engineers breaching with infantry support and danger close indirect fire techniques. Hopefully, this information will assist leaders in the force to focus their training at home station.

2. BRIGADE TASK FORCE (TF) OBSERVATIONS.

a. Brigade staffs continue to improve on time management and tactical operations center (TOC) operations. Brigades manage the time schedule during the command and staff sequence of actions which allows most brigades to allocate three fourths of the planning time to subordinate units. Units now realize the importance of TOC staff drills and daily synchronization updates to manage the current battle. Commanders are spending more time on their intent and planning guidance and executive officers now take a more active role in time management and staff integration.

b. Although units plan and brief night operations as a part of the scheme of maneuver, they rarely execute them to standard or IAW commander's intent. This allows the OPFOR to conduct operations freely at night. Many units lack basic night-fighting skills and do not employ all available night-vision equipment effectively.

c. Brigades are not very proficient in achieving TOC survivability. Obstacles and barriers are seldom used, and an integrated defensive plan is usually a weakness.

d. Executive officers and staffs are not practiced on the doctrinal steps of the Command Estimate Process and do not understand the expected product at the end of each step. Course-of-action (COA) development and wargaming are fragmented and not robust enough to lead to a good decision.

e. Integration and synchronization are not successfully done in deliberate planning. Synchronization matrices are misunderstood and often considered not worth the investment of time by the staff. This results in disjointed plans and uncoordinated execution. Synchronization matrices are usually the first step deleted during abbreviated planning processes. As a result, units do not gain the full potential of all available combat multipliers. This leads to piecemeal commitment of combat power and extensive friendly casualties. A synchronization matrix can be done in 10 minutes if mission, enemy, terrain, troops and time available (METT-T) dictates.

f. Rehearsals are traditionally detailed backbriefs. Units concentrate on the terrain model and not on the meat of the rehearsal. Commanders and staffs do not prepare properly for the rehearsal. Rehearsals below battalion level are seldom observed.

g. Maneuver commanders and staffs do not demonstrate a good understanding of air assault planning or the air mission briefing (AMB). Air assault planning is normally done by aviators and S3 Airs with little or no input from commanders and the remainder of the staff. AMB attendees are normally aviators and S3 Airs. Results are poor air assault executions across the force.

h. With the recent fielding of mobile subscriber equipment (MSE) to the Light Infantry units, secure telephone and data and facsimile capability are quickly available to the brigade commander and his staff. Brigade and Battalion staffs need more training on MSE terminal devices, that are user-owned and -operated, to fully maximize the capabilities offered. When integrated early into the plan, redundancy and a robust communications network is created.

3. BATTALION TF OBSERVATIONS.

a. Command and Control (C2)Observations.

(1) Battalions continue to emphasize briefbacks and rehearsals and to improve communications. When they conduct effective briefbacks and rehearsals, commanders ensure that subordinates understand the mission and their intent. They also improve unity of effort and identify problem areas. After the initial 48 hours, battalions communicate well and are able to control subordinate units.

(2) Units do not effectively develop, update and use synchronization tools to assist in fighting the battle. When prepared, they are often not updated nor used to track the battle. This deficiency is also closely linked to how effectively the unit integrates its staff. The direct result is often an unsynchronized fight of the battlefield operating systems (BOSs). The staff must focus its efforts on synchronizing available combat power on the decisive point and ensure all efforts support the main effort.

(3) During mission analysis, commanders and staff must clearly define the critical tasks that the unit must accomplish. The commander's guidance and intent must reflect this focus. This enables the staff to define and clearly identify the decisive point, which becomes the main effort, and provides the focus for all planning, preparation, and execution. All staff sections and LOs must participate in the process. The analysis should produce a task and purpose mission statement that supports the task force's single focus and a commander's intent which focuses on the decisive point.

(4) Staff integration in planning, preparation, and execution of missions continues to be a challenge. Each staff member must actively participate in mission analysis, COA development, analysis and comparison, wargaming and orders production. Each staff officer and LO must properly advise the staff to ensure the proper employment of his assets as well as the focusing of combat power. Units should establish planning and TOC operational procedures that promote staff cross-talk. Information sharing must occur during the execution phase to ensure accurate battle tracking. Staff members need to work together to analyze information and provide updated estimates to the staff and commander to support the current battle and plan for future operations. Every staff member should continuously assist the S2 with the intelligence preparation of the battlefield (IPB).

b. Maneuver Observations:

(1) Casualty treatment at the company level is a significant strength observed during recent rotations. Company-level leadership maximizes the use of combat lifesavers and company medics. Company casualty collection points are generally well organized and secured. However, died of wound rates remain at 25 percent. Battalions must coordinate for medical evacuation (MEDEVAC) aircraft or ground evacuation security. Evacuation contingencies must be planned and rehearsed.

(2) Battalions must fight as a task force. Piecemeal commitment of the force normally results from poor planning. The battalion commander must first determine the task and purpose, then determine a main effort and supporting effort(s) focused on achieving that task. Battalions must synchronize and integrate combat support (CS) and combat service support (CSS) throughout the BOS.

(3) Units are making more effective use of night observation devices (NODs), but, overall, night operations remain a challenge. Units are hesitant to conduct operations during limited visibility. Commanders at all levels must determine what they want to accomplish at night, develop simple plans with good control measures and then rehearse them. All leaders must understand realistic time estimates and make allowances for movement and linkups. Leaders should position themselves well forward during night operations for positive control. Units should make maximum use of the night for ambushes, reconnaissance, movement, and denial of lines of communication (LOCs).

(4) Battle drill execution continues as a weakness, particularly leader control during contact. Battle drills are not automatic reactions and often result in indiscriminate fire and maneuver by individuals and crews. Units must practice battle drills under varied conditions and emphasize leader control. Execute battle drills at night as well as during the day. Use FM 7-8, The Infantry Platoon and Squad (Infantry, Airborne, Air Assault, Ranger).

(5) The most critical part of the fight is actions on the objective. Units continue to lose the fight through piecemeal commitment of assets on the objective. Battalion commanders must assess the required combat power for success and focus planning and preparation on maximizing that power on the objective. Units must have detailed plans with established control measures. Units should rehearse these actions as the number one priority. Backbriefs are a step in the right direction but alone do not guarantee success. Backbriefs are focused more on the planning process, while rehearsals are focused on the execution. Units must conduct a thorough objective reconnaissance and modify the plan accordingly.

4. INTELLIGENCE OBSERVATIONS.

The positive intelligence trends are staff integration during the IPB process, S2 reporting, battle tracking, and QUICKFIX and Low-Level Voice Intercept (LLVI) intercepts and reporting. Areas in need of emphasis are collection management and reconnaissance and surveillance (R& planning, LLVI direction-finding (DF) operations, Ground Surveillance System (GSS) operations, and line unit enemy prisoner of war (EPW) tagging. The recommendations to improve these areas are:

(1) Collection Management and R& Planning. R& planning must occur early, answer special information requirements, and be supported by, and integrated into, the maneuver plan. Additionally, commanders must integrate military intelligence (MI) assets into the R& plan through the MI company commander in coordination with the brigade staff. Early R& planning facilitates coordination, tasking and allocation of real estate within the area of operations (AO).

(2) LLVI Operations. Plan and execute a good DF baseline; use Terra Base products during planning and analysis. Concentrate on acquiring line of bearings, cuts, and fixes. Ensure that preventive maintenance checks and services are conducted on equipment.

(3) GSS Operations. Deploy well forward or on flanks for early warning. Do not place in high traffic rear areas where clearance of fires is difficult. Most units have good SOPs. Leaders (NCOs) must enforce SOPs to improve mission analysis, team-level planning, rehearsals, coordination with line units, and mission execution. Consider REMBASS for target acquisition.

(4) EPW Tagging. S2s and IPW personnel must exploit every home-station training opportunity to satellite off, or integrate with, line units to teach proper EPW handling and emphasize tagging procedures. All leaders must enforce proper procedures.

5. FIRE SUPPORT OBSERVATIONS.

a. Field artillery battalions continue to improve their clearance of fire procedures and to demonstrate technical skill proficiency. Battalion fire direction centers (FDCs) are involved now in managing positive clearance of fires. Firing batteries continue to effectively operate their automated gunnery systems and conduct howitzer crew drills to standard.

b. Doctrinal relationships between the Army, Air Force, and Close Air Support (CAS) need to be reviewed. Doctrinally, the S3 (Air) submits preplanned CAS requests after fire support officer (FSO)/air liaison officer (ALO) coordination. In successful units, FSOs submit the requests to allow the S3 (Air) to focus on strategic and tactical air movement and aerial resupply. Maneuver commanders need to force Tactical Air Control Party (TACP) integration into the FSC, and make the ALO subordinate to the FSO for matters of fire support coordination. Some new ALOs confuse issues of commander-special staff officer relationships, and issues of tactical operations and fire support coordination. Finally, units must train and authorize 13Fs to conduct CAS terminal strike control. TACPs often cannot get from the tactical operations center (TOC) to the target area to control the strike. Currently, soldiers only control CAS under wartime emergency conditions which severely degrades their preparedness to control CAS strikes when necessary.

c. Firing batteries need to train more on ground combatives and survivability skills. They either do not understand, or adhere to, guidelines in Appendix H, FM 6-50, The Field Artillery Cannon Battery. Batteries do not carry sufficient class IV in their unit basic load (UBL). Construction of fighting positions is often inadequate. Perimeter defenses are rarely coordinated or integrated and reaction to attack is not well planned or rehearsed. The batteries do not analyze the threat and apply it to their defensive preparations. Batteries usually conduct successful counter-reconnaissance patrols.

d. At brigade and battalion levels, many units do not completely understand or implement the targeting process to develop an attack guidance matrix. Brigade and battalion commanders and their key staff members must get personally involved and support the process. Key personnel should religiously attend and actively participate in targeting meetings. This process leads to fire support synchronization by attacking the right targets with the right assets at the right times. The commander's intent for fires must specify what is to be done to the enemy. Targeting meetings determine "how."

6. AIR DEFENSE OBSERVATIONS.

a. Aerial IPB is an essential tool for the air defense officer (ADO). It allows him to visualize the battle and to position air defense fire units to kill enemy aircraft. When ADOs conduct effective Air IPB, they interdict enemy air operations. ADOs frequently fail to update the initial aerial IPB based on SALUTE reports. ADOs must plot and analyze hostile aircraft tracks to validate the initial aerial IPB and serve as the basis for future mission planning.

b. Non-air defense units are unaware or untrained on the proper methods for engaging hostile aircraft. FM 44-8, Small Unit Self-Defense Against Air Attack, provides procedures and techniques which, if followed, will succeed against hostile aircraft.

7. MOBILITY, SURVIVABILITY, AND NBC OBSERVATIONS.

a. Three of the most significant trends involving engineers are in mobility, force protection and combined arms breaching operations. In mobility operations, the OPFOR usually takes the initiative from the unit by controlling the main supply routes (MSRs) via point minefields. Commanders must treat convoys as combat operations and maneuver forces must understand route clearance operations. In Force Protection, the commander, S2 and engineer must discuss the level of survivability protection required against the threat. Maneuver units must integrate their engineers into combined arms breaching operations, IAW FM 90-13-1, Combined Arms Breaching Operations.

b. Several nuclear, biological, chemical (NBC) trends are of major concern. Chemical sections must conduct good quality staff IPBs. Mission-oriented protective posture (MOPP) analysis is conducted without a detailed terrain vulnerability analysis. The staff IPBs are not a continual process. Chemical sections do not receive the commander's intent for the use of chemical assets. Chemical units usually arrive in country without specified or implied doctrinal tasks. Brigade S3s and chemical sections usually attach the platoon to the FSB. The FSB gives the platoon the nondoctrinal mission of convoy security and the brigade TF loses this combat multiplier early. Unit leaders must review and inspect (NBC) defense equipment prior to deployment to ensure all modified table of organization and equipment (MTOE) and consolidated table of allowances (CTA) NBC defense equipment is purchased.

c. Passive air defense measures are frequently ignored. Units usually use camouflage nets but fail to effectively cover vehicle windshields, mirrors and headlamps. Position improvement routinely does not include such measures as camouflaging displaced earth and obscuring vehicle tracks. During convoy movements, vehicles frequently bunch up and fail to herringbone during stops which results in a lucrative air target.

8. COMBAT SERVICE SUPPORT (CSS) OBSERVATIONS.

a. CSS units continue to demonstrate strengths in the areas of the technical MOS skills of their soldiers, a significant improvement in the performance of DZSTL operations for aerial resupply operations, and in applying the FSB concept within light infantry divisions.

b. Units need to improve in the areas of staff operations, casualty evacuation and air item recovery for Container Delivery System (CDS) operations. The commander must integrate the brigade S1, S4 and FSB Support Operations personnel into the brigade staff's planning process. Logistics estimates are incomplete and result in a CSS plan not synchronized with the tactical plan. Casualty evacuation as a system requires improvement. Units must develop and train on SOPs for evacuation starting at the squad level up through the division level. The establishment of casualty collection points (CCPs) should be planned and rehearsed for every operation based on METT-T. Units need to resolve, between the aviation and medical communities, who controls aero-medical evacuation assets in brigade and division areas. Units need to recover air items from CDS operations. Habitually, CDS parachutes are left on the DZ for three to four days, or in trees until after the exercise. CSS units need to obtain the necessary equipment required to support parachute recovery. Units are wasting training dollars paying for damaged parachutes.

9. AVIATION OBSERVATIONS.

a. Pre-mission planning has been a significant strength of Aviation Battalion/Squadron Task Forces. Companies and troops have excelled in planning and preparing for assigned missions. They were able to safely and successfully execute extremely short-notice missions and still consider flight planning, mission briefings, pre-flight checks, risk assessments, and crew endurance management.

b. Dramatic improvements in Downed Aircraft Recovery Team (DART) operations have occurred across the board. Home-station pre-deployment preparation and training is paying significant dividends to the Aviation TF in the rapid recovery of helicopter assets.

c. Battle-tracking procedures remain the most significant deterrent to the TF's ability to develop and execute swift, decisive tactical operations. The staff must provide the commander timely, accurate information during mission execution. Mission failures, aborts, and fratricides result from poor information flow. Aviation TOCs need to maintain accurate friendly or enemy situation maps during the battle. Maneuver, FS, engineer, CS and A2C2 overlays are not received in a timely manner and are not displayed for quick and easy access for aircrews during their pre-mission planning. Battalion S2s must effectively analyze the battle to accomplish this task. Current information must be posted on the enemy situation map. This facilitates aircrew briefs prior to mission execution.

d. Air Routes in and out of the Aviation TF Assembly Area (AA) need to be well planned. TFs do not develop and rehearse detailed occupation plans and traffic patterns. Aircrews continually expose their aircraft for extended periods looking for a parking area, instead of arriving at a pre-designated and marked area. Traffic patterns must be established before occupation. Failure to do this causes aircrews to select their own routes, independent of other unit's aircrews. Aviation TF Flight Operations Sections must track aircraft arrival and departure in the AA and current aircraft mission status. Aircrews must contact flight operations when departing or arriving.

e. Suppression of Enemy Air Defenses (SEAD) planning and execution is a weakness in the force. Attack helicopters must integrate into air assault or air movement operations during the low-intensity conflict (LIC) phase when unobserved indirect fires are unlikely to be approved. When fire support is available, the plan must be well-integrated and executed. When SEAD was well planned, it was well executed. However, it was used only for the first flight into sector and not for flights out and subsequent flights in or out of sector.

f. The Aviation TF commander is the best liaison officer with higher headquarters. Aviation TF commanders or the S-3 should move to the brigade TOC or TAC during critical planning and execution phases. It is imperative they influence how, when and where their aviation assets are used. Leaving this responsibility to the LO does not produce a successful product or a credible reputation for Army Aviation. The more proactive the Cdr and S-3 are in the planning process at the brigade TF level, the better the final product.

10. SPECIAL OPERATIONS FORCES OBSERVATIONS.

a. Psychological operations (PSYOP) units must understand their role in the command estimate process. Mission planning to support the conventional unit's scheme of maneuver is a weakness. The documents necessary to accomplish the analysis are available but are rarely pieced together into a plan to support the objectives of the brigade. Deficiencies in mission planning contribute to Brigade PSYOP Support Element (BPSE) difficulties in the preparation of the PSYOP annex. Units must realize the importance of the annex. It must be a detailed plan tailored to the Brigade TF. PSYOP missions are often proposed well after the brigade operation order (OPORD) is issued and are reactive in nature. The BPSE must provide lead time for loudspeaker teams (LSTs) to conduct mission planning. Coordination and rehearsals are required for satisfactory mission results. BPSEs must integrate into brigade TOCs. The operations tempo of the TOC often overwhelms the BPSE, causing frustration and lack of PSYOP integration into brigade operations. Unit LSTs are usually retained at brigade level with the BPSE serving as the section headquarters. BPSEs are not able to provide the detailed planning necessary for successful execution of LST missions. BPSEs must inform LSTs retained at brigade of current and future tactical PSYOP situations.

b. One of the principal unit actions required by the initial CA mission tasking is the development of a Civil Military Operations (CMO) estimate of the situation. The CMO estimate analyzes information pertaining to the mission and area of operations. The CMO estimate must be detailed to Brigade TF level. Instead of focusing on the brigade or division AO, infrastructure information tends to copy the area study and address the entire country. The time is available for direct support teams (DSTMs) to review the mission, conduct mission planning and examine the available documentation and information provided. Any additional information should be requested through the supported unit in the form of a request for information (RFI). Some of the required data may be at the brigade, and RFIs will alert the brigade they have a DSTM actively preparing for the mission. Two important factors in the CMO estimate are the restated mission and the CMO course of action (COA) process. As the brigade mission changes, the DSTM restated mission will change and so will many of the factors affecting COA development. A written CMO estimate must be prepared for every phase of the brigade operation. The CMO estimate becomes the base document for preparing CMO annexes to OPLANs and OPORDs.

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