XVIII Airborne Corps Exercises
The XVIII Airborne Corps undergoes constant training to function as a joint task force headquarters.
Through a building block process of individual, unit, combined and joint training, XVIII Airborne Corps prepares soldiers for the increasingly complex tasks they will face in humanitarian, peacekeeping and combat operations. These units demonstrate and enhance their training proficiency in the field at Combat Training Centers (CTCs) and through simulation in the Army's Battle Command Training Program (BCTP) and the tiered joint task force training programs. XVIII Airborne Corps' primary training focus is joint training. Operational experience shows that it will always execute as a joint force with sister services; whether conducting humanitarian operations such as Hurricane Andrew and Mitch, or peacekeeping and combat operations such as Restore Hope and Just Cause.
XVIII Airborne Corps training is conducted in a building block method called 'tiers', which starts with Army component training and ends with full-scale joint simulations. XVIII Airborne Corps conducts extensive exercises in each of the three tiers of the joint training concept, Tier 1 - Army Component Training, Tier 2 - Joint Interoperability Field Training, and Tier 3 - Joint Task Force Simulation Training.
From January 1998 through February 1999 the Corps' tier 1 training included all home station individual and unit training, 12 rotations to the Combat Training Centers (CTCs), and Battle Command Training Program (BCTP) exercises by three of the Corps' four divisions, as well as the Corps headquarters. Unit and individual training at both home station and the CTCs is some of the toughest, most realistic training in the world. Soldiers train to exacting standards in multiple battlefield tasks, executing at night, in foul weather and under tremendous physical and mental stress. Live-fire exercises tie this training together as soldiers and leaders have to plan, coordinate and execute every aspect of combat operations. Routine training in this environment builds individual confidence and unit cohesion essential to battlefield success.
The Corps' tier 2 training during the January 1998 through February 1999 period was highlighted by Joint Task Force Exercise Purple Dragon in February 1998. During that exercise, the Corps operated as a Joint Task Force headquarters in command of a Naval Carrier Battle Group, Surface Action Group, and Amphibious Ready Group; a Marine Expeditionary Unit; an Air Force Expeditionary Wing; a Joint Special Operations Task Force; and a tailored Army force of airborne, air assault, and heavy organizations. Troop strength exceeded 41,000 soldiers, sailors, airmen, marines and civilians. During the 26 day exercise, forces operated in a Joint Operating Area (JOA) of over one million square miles; from the coast of Maryland in the north to Puerto Rico in the South, and from Louisiana in the west to 300 nautical miles off the United States coast in the Atlantic Ocean. As in tier 1 training, live-fire exercises were integrated into these operations to finely hone our joint combat skills.
Tier 3 training is the capstone of this process in which the Commander in Chief (CINC) ACOM certifies an Army Corps as qualified to execute as a Joint Task Force headquarters through a simulation based exercise. XVIII Airborne Corps successfully recertified this in November 1997 in a Unified Endeavor exercise based against a crisis response scenario in Central America requiring operations in both peace and war. XVIII Airborne Corps again commanded organizations from all services and was required to synchronize 'transition-to-war', wartime, and 'transition-to-peace' operations across the joint services and other agencies of the government. This was the finest joint training XVIII Airborne Corps has received.
18th Airborne Corps Warfighter is a Department of Army directed exercise. Third Army/ARCENT provides the High Command (HICON), command and control in support of directed corps units. In 2001, Third Army/ARCENT will participate with 18th Airborne Corps and The Battle Command Training Program (BCTP) during the 18th Airborne Corps Warfighter.
XVIII Airborne Corps maintains a very strong training and operational relationship with the reserve components. Throughout each tier, active/reserve component integration is exploited to enhance the total force capability across the spectrum of operations. Divisional teaming at Fort Drum, separate brigades executing training with both active and reserve subordinate units, and Command Post Exercises involving reserve and active component headquarters all work to establish the seamless Army essential for future operations. "One team, one fight, one future" is a reality in XVIII Airborne Corps.
In addition to this intensive training program, the XVIII Airborne Corps also executes a highly demanding Emergency Deployment Readiness Exercise (EDRE) program to ensure all organizations can meet crisis response timelines. Beginning with a portion of the 82nd Airborne Division and Corps headquarters which must be ready to deploy within 18 hours of notification, most of organizations have part or all of their units which must be ready to deploy within 120 hours of alert. To assist units in maintaining this standard, monthly the XVIII Airborne Corps alerts, marshals, conducts crisis action planning and deploys a portion of the force without warning in order to refine these skills and validate this capability.
A final aspect of the total training program is annual combined training with forces from other nations. The Reciprocal Unit Exchange program conducts small unit training with German, French and British units both in their countries and the US. Operations Intrinsic Action in Kuwait, Bright Star in Egypt and Eager Light in Jordan, maintain operating capabilities with Southwest Asian counterparts. Additionally, exercises in South Korea and simulations maintain interoperability with Republic of Korea forces.
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