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BATTLE COMMAND TRAINING PROGRAM (BCTP)

TRAINING OPPORTUNITIES FOR
RESERVE COMPONENTS BRIGADES

by Lieutenant Colonel Michael Trollinger, BCTP


Pre-Command Course (PCC), Tactical Commanders' Development Course (TCDC), Battle Command and Training Program (BCTP), and Brigade Command and Battle Staff Training Program (BCBST) = courses, programs, and more courses that add up to increased readiness for Reserve Components (RC) brigades. In the summer of 1988 the School for Command Preparation at the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College (CGSC), Fort Leavenworth, KS, expanded the tactical instruction (TCDC), taught during the PCC from three days to two weeks. PCC itself was shortened from two weeks to one week, and the brigade and battalion command designees attending PCC stayed at Fort Leavenworth for two more weeks of intensive tactical training. That two-week TCDC greatly improved the tactical training of future battalion and brigade commanders.

When RC brigades were called to active duty during Operation DESERT SHIELD, they completed the TCDC at Fort Leavenworth. The reserve brigade assessment of the course was the same as the vast majority of all the future commanders who had gone through prior to taking command: "First Rate!" The after-action reports which were completed following the reserve brigade activation all mentioned the benefits of the TCDC in getting brigade commanders and their battle staffs better prepared to deal with tactical problems.

This evaluation resulted in an initiative to put together a tactics course specifically targeted at RC brigades. The School for Professional Development at CGSC was not designed nor staffed to train reserve brigades. In the case of Operation DESERT SHIELD, it had put together a course to meet the contingency requirements; however, the original TCDC was established as leader training for commanders and not entire staffs. The simulation that is used in the TCDC is a great leader trainer but is not designed to fully exercise a brigade and is very limited in playing logistics at the brigade level.

In the summer of 1992 the BCTP Commander was given the mission to begin looking at how BCTP could form a new operations group, in addition to the two operations groups and the World Class Opposing Force, to pick up this new RC mission. The preliminary work was done by the BCTP headquarters until after REFORGER 92, when a small planning cell was formed to bring the program to fruition.

During September 1993 the first RC brigade will begin the first rotation to the BCBST program. This program, specifically designed for reserve brigades, captures the best of TCDC and the four years' experience of BCTP. An initial planning conference will establish the training objectives which will be used throughout the rotation, and the BCBST staff will provide the training unit with a read-ahead package, including requirements for soldier support during each phase of the rotation. The planning conference at the unit's home station will be scheduled three to four months prior to the week-long seminar which will take place at Fort Leavenworth.

The seminar's principal trainer is the brigade commander. This follows the BCTP model in which the principal trainer is the division commander for division rotations and the corps commander for corps rotations. During the seminars the brigade and battalion commanders and their staffs, some 45 members of the brigade, will participate in selected workshops, decision exercises, and after-action reviews (AARs). The seminar is designed to stimulate commanders and their staffs to solve tactical problems, apply the Army's doctrine to these tactical situations, and to promote a better appreciation of battle command and the complexity of war. Computer simulations will be used to drive the tactical problem.

The brigade will have the opportunity to work on those areas identified during the seminars in the next four to six months before it participates in a Multiple Unit Training Assembly (MUTA-5) Battle Exercise, in which it will go through a computer-driven Command Post Exercise (CPX). A competitive opposing force will challenge the training unit, and an operations group of officers from the BCBST staff will be observer/controllers to provide feedback to the training unit. A senior observer (a retired Army general) will also work with the unit to help it improve. The Active Component division commander (for round-up or round-out brigades) or the reserve division commander (for other brigades) will be the principal trainer during this Battle Exercise. The goals of the Battle Exercise are to provide a challenging, realistic training exercise to stress the synchronization and command and control processes. The Battle Exercise will build on the seminar to enhance the unit's proficiency and to provide additional feedback for the development of sustainment training. An AAR is an integral part in each Battle Exercise. The AAR will be videotaped and provided to the unit to help build its sustainment training program.

The training unit will commit some 250 soldiers to the Battle Exercise. The majority of these soldiers will be in the brigade or battalion command posts performing their battle position requirements. The remaining soldiers will be involved in making the simulation transparent to the soldiers manning the Tactical Operations Centers. Ideally, company commanders will be manning the computer workstations and sending operational reports to their battalion headquarters.

BCTP is currently forming a third operations group to meet the requirements of BCBST. This training team will be responsible for the conduct of the BCBST rotations, and, like the other operations groups, the military members of the team will be assisted by qualified contractor support. The team is designed to have 25 Army officers and an NCO observer, as well as participation from the Air Force. A planning cell has been working on the project since November 1992. Headquarters, Department of the Army approved the concept in February 1993, and soldiers were then notified of their assignment to this new team.

The majority of the team will report to Fort Leavenworth between 15 July and 1 September 1993. An intensive training program awaits the new team members to make them proficient at brigade tactics as well as serving as observer/controllers for BCTP. This certification program also includes extensive professional reading as well as working with subject matter experts on the BCTP staff.

It appears that the progression from PCC to TCDC to BCTP and now to BCBST is sound and will result in a Total Army that is better trained and ready to accomplish its mission. Evaluation of the first rotation of BCBST in the next few months will help to refine and improve the program; however, early commitment and support from both Active and Reserve Components participants will ensure its success.

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