Joint Readiness Training Center Exercises
The Joint Readiness Training Center (JRTC) is located at Fort Polk, Louisiana. This CTC focuses primarily on training light infantry brigade task forces in low-to-mid-intensity conflict. This is accomplished through the use of tough, realistic training conditions.
Each fiscal year, JRTC conducts eight rotations and two Mission Readiness Exercises (MREs). A single rotation consists of 16 days. This time is divided roughly as follows: Days 1-4 are spent in the Intermediate Staging Base (ISB) and days 5-16 are spent performing the exercise itself ("in the box").
Mission Rehearsal Exercises (MREs) are generally shorter in duration (approximately 12 days in length) but include many of the legally intense issues associated with a peacekeeping deployment. They are currently used to train both AD and NG units that are due to assume the rotations in Bosnia and Kosovo. These exercises attempt to replicate the COBs and issues that will be encountered by the unit in either Balkan location.
A typical training scenario at JRTC includes a brigade-sized joint task force deploying to the fictional island of Aragon to support the friendly nation of Cortina. In addition to the approximately 3,500 troops supporting the brigade, there are also approximately 1,500 troops supporting echelons above division (EAD) units during a normal rotation. These EAD units usually include a combat hospital as well as a corps support group. The permissive or forced entry of coalition forces into Cortina is intended to improve stability in the region by quelling an ongoing insurgency in Cortina.
A non-MRE rotation generally has three operational phases. First is an insertion and counter-insurgency operation; second is a defense (in response to an Atlantican attack); and third is an attack into a state-of-the-art Military Operations in Urban Terrain (MOUT) complex. Numerous forces augment the airborne, air assault, and light infantry brigades to provide flexibility and "light-heavy" integration. Such forces include mechanized and armor units, special operations forces, Air Force Air Combat Command forces, and Naval, Marine Aviation and Marine Air Naval Gunfire Liaison Company (ANGLICO) units.
Due to the low-to-mid intensity environment, the different phases of the operation, and the various parties involved, JRTC is a rich training environment. In the Entry/Counter-Insurgency Phase, commanders encounter issues such the international justification for the entry of U.S. and other friendly forces, use of facilities, justification for the use of force, and the collection of intelligence from civilians. This phase also stresses issues relating to rules of engagement (ROE), security assistance, nation assistance, and force protection. In the Defensive Operations phase, additional issues arise, such as noncombatant evacuation operations (NEOs), requests for political asylum, the handling of refugees, and other diplomatic issues. Atlantican attacks will also trigger application of the law of war and civilians may have to be physically cleared from the battlefield. In the Offensive Operations Phase, commanders encounter still more issues, such as maneuver damage claims, weapons and targeting issues, peculiarities relative to operations on urban terrain, the handling of prisoners of war, and issues relating to the occupation of territory.
While in Cortina, US forces encounter many difficult situations dealing with civilians. Units will deal with civilians on the battlefield (COBs), including those supporting the Cortinian democratic government (pro-U.S.), Cortinians espousing the overthrow of the Cortinian government (anti-U.S.), Atlanticans posing as Cortinians (anti-U.S.), and neutrals who can be swayed. Rotational units will also encounter non-governmental organizations, competing governmental organizations, political parties, news media, Cortinian police and paramilitary forces, and uniformed and non-uniformed insurgent military forces.
Mission Rehearsal Exercises (MREs) are generally shorter in duration (approximately 12 days in length) but include many of the intense issues associated with a peacekeeping deployment. They are currently used to train both AD and NG units that are due to assume the rotations in Bosnia and Kosovo. These exercises attempt to replicate the COBs and issues that will be encountered by the unit in either Balkan location.
There are observer/controllers (O/Cs) at JRTC whose role is to teach, coach, and mentor the teams involved in the exercises in an effort to help rotational leaders improve their respective contributions to their unit's mission. After-action reviews (AARs) are conducted after each operational phase and a final exercise review occurs at the exercise conclusion (ENDEX). Later, a Take Home Packet (THP) capturing O/C observations is provided to the unit.
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