Victory Strike

More than 2,000 V Corps soldiers took part in VICTORY STRIKE 01, a bilateral -- U.S. and Polish forces -- field exercise for attack helicopter and long range artillery assets, in Drawsko Pomorskie, Poland, Oct. 13-23, 2000. The exercise provided realistic training to attack aviation units, rapidly deploy V Corps headquarters and its support elements, expand training opportunities for aviation units in Europe, and further U.S. and Polish bilateral cooperation.

The exercise was the first advanced gunnery exercise in Poland for V Corps attack aviation units and the first large-scale joint (U.S. Army and Air Force) and combined exercise between the United States and Poland -- a new NATO member. Throughout the exercise, AH-64 Apache helicopter squadrons with the 11th Aviation Regiment conducted day and night live fires, and flew against an opposing force comprised of U.S. and Polish air defense forces. A U.S. multiple launch rocket system battalion, as well as a Polish artillery unit equipped with BM-21 rocket launchers, provided suppressive fire against the opposing force for the 11th Avn. Reg. The Apaches flew to the Drawsko Pomorskie training area; other equipment arrived by rail.

V Corps' exercise with Polish forces, Victory Strike II, began in earnest 02 October 2001 with corps attack aviation flying on simulated "deep strike" missions. Apache helicopters of the 11th Aviation Regiment from Illesheim, Germany and the 1st Infantry Division from Wuerzburg, Germany, supported by Blackhawks from the 12th Aviation Brigade, with simulated close air support from U.S. Air Force F-16s from Aviano Air Base, Italy, took on an opposing force of combined U.S. and Polish air defense units for the two-day force-on-force portion of the training.

The units also participated in day and night live firing during the later phases of Victory Strike II. Approximately 4,000 V Corps troops took part in the exercise on Poland's Drawsko Pomorskie and Wedrzyn training areas. Italian and British troops participated as well. Ten Apache attack helicopters from 2nd Squadron, 6th Cavalry Regiment participated in a two-day deep strike training mission at from Ziemsko airfield on the Drawsko Pomorski training area in Poland during the V Corps exercise Victory Strike II.

The training, a follow-up to the first Victory Strike exercise in 2000, was also an opportunity for corps units to strengthen their ability to deploy rapidly. A key asset in that capability is the corps' "Strike CP" command post, which is seeing its first field duty during Victory Strike. Housed in rapidly deployable modular units, the command post gives the corps commander and his staff a compact, state-of-the-art "nerve center" where large amounts of information on all aspects of an exercise flow in more quickly, allowing battlefield decisions to be made with greater speed.

The exercise's operational goals were to increase the readiness of V Corps Apache units to conduct deep-strike operations, and to employ the new and highly deployable V Corps Strike CP (command post) in a field environment for the first time. The Strike CP was designed as a modular plug-and-fight system that allows joint interoperability, and the entire CP package can be shoved onto a few C-130 aircraft and deployed anywhere in the theater quickly. The Strike CP is the wave of the future. And it has environmental controls -- heat, air conditioning -- you can go to the desert in it. It's environmentally sealed. You have all the electronic maps and feeds from unmanned aerial vehicles and space. It warns you about solar flares that can mess up communications. You can zoom in on a tank and, using virtual electronics, actually see things from the enemy's perspective -- as if you were sticking your head up through the enemy's hatch and looking around, but you're really sitting 500 kilometers away. And do you know how long it takes to set up each module? Eight minutes. Four people.

The Strike CP is an Army Transformation initiative created by U.S. Army Europe and V Corps to address deployability. The goal was to develop and field a modular-based CP that incorporated all the subsystems of the Army Battle Command System and that could be deployable to a contingency area by C-130 aircraft. It had to be able to function as a first-on-the-ground CP for any level, ranging from a corps advance party to a joint contingency headquarters, and be able to receive and incorporate follow-on, interoperable staff components. And it had to have a small footprint. Operating for Victory Strike II, the Strike CP was a little larger than the size of a brigade CP, about half the size of the corps main CP.

Victory Strike II also gave V Corps units a chance to lend a hand to Poland in more humanitarian fashion. During the exercise, units from the corps' 130th Engineer Brigade from Hanau, Germany rebuilt two schools near the training area.

Victory Strike II provided the opportunity to give V Corps' attack aviation units the same level of combat training center experience that ground maneuver units receive at the Combat Maneuver Training Center (CMTC) in Hohenfels, Germany -- a chance to train against an aggressive opposing force and use observer-controllers and instrumentation packages to track results.

The 1-1 Aviation -- nicknamed the Gunfighters -- is the attack aviation element of the 4th Brigade, 1st Infantry Division (Mechanized). It was attached to the 11th Aviation Regiment for the duration of Victory Strike II, joining another Apache outfit, the 2nd Squadron, 6th Cavalry Regiment, and Black Hawk and Chinook elements from the 12th Aviation Brigade.

The two U.S. Apache units and an Italian attack helicopter unit formed the blue force for the exercise, operating from Ziemsko Airfield, which is situated in Poland's Drawsko Pomorskie Training Area. At Wedrzyn Training Area, about 120 kilometers away by air, elements of V Corps' 41st Field Artillery Brigade, 5th Battalion, 7th Air Defense Artillery (ADA), 4th Battalion, 3rd ADA and air defense units from the Polish army composed the opposing force.

The distance separating the two training areas approximated Apache deep-strike ranges and put realistic stress on mission support, planning and execution at company through brigade echelons. With more than 4,000 American, Italian and Polish soldiers participating, Victory Strike II was nearly twice the size of the previous exercise.

C-TESS works alongside DTIS, offering telemetry tracking systems through smart on-board data interface modules for aircraft. Between the two portable systems, every type of weapons platform is covered. Data from both systems is relayed to high-speed computers to produce real-time displays and after-action review material. They allow maneuver training without going to a major training area.

Flying gets most of the notice during such operations, but planning seems to take much of the effort. The ratio of planning to operational time is at least two to one, probably a lot more, and that is just at the battalion staff level. Add the planning time at echelons above battalion and at the company level, and planning could easily reach levels of seven or eight hours -- maybe more -- for every hour an attack company is in the air.

For a typical night mission during Victory Strike II, planning and constructing tactical options under the military decision-making process started early in the morning, producing orders relayed to the companies several hours -- and many cups of coffee -- later, with battalion and company mission rehearsals conducted late that afternoon. And for all that effort, the battalion staff gets to stay up most of the night monitoring the battle over radios and seeing how effective their plan was (or not).

The technology that is allowing USAREUR to go on the road with training is commonly called "CMTC in a box." The 7th Army Training Command, directorate of training's deployable operations group, prefers the official names of the systems: the deployable instrumentation training system (DTIS) and combined arms tactical engagement simulations systems (C-TESS). Nevertheless, CMTC in a box pretty much describes the purpose and application of the systems. Until DTIS, realistic training had to be done at CMTC. Anyplace else didn't have instrumentation feedback or observer-controllers (OCs). With the systems, instrumented training can take place just about anywhere, reducing costs. There are no rail load expenses, for example, and recovery time also is drastically reduced.

DTIS is a suite of systems that can be installed on vehicles and worn by individual soldiers. It communicates through portable 25-meter masts -- each having approximately a 15-kilometer radius range -- to transfer data to commanders or exercise control elements. It allows equipment and individuals to be tracked, and it interfaces with the military integrated laser engagement system (MILES) to establish hits or misses. It controls all ground units except artillery. If you can put MILES on it, you can put DTIS on it.

Victory Strike III

2002's Victory Strike was bigger than ever. More than 5,000 V Corps soldiers were joined by troops from U.S. Army Europe and other Army organizations, U.S. Air Force personnel and Polish forces in a deep-strike exercise spread across several training areas covering hundreds of square miles.

The exercise began on Sept 24 and continued until Oct 18.

The exercise is designed to give V Corps' state-of-the-art attack aviation units a chance to prove their ability to strike deep behind enemy lines. But there's much more to the exercise than just helicopters. Victory Strike III gives the corps a chance to improve skills at rapidly and efficiently deploying thousands of fighting men and women and the supplies and equipment to sustain them during combat operations. It provides an opportunity to create and refine interoperability between the corps and its sister services and allies, from the individual soldier level to the highest echelons of command. It serves as a test bed to help create the tactics, skills and technology needed to fight and win in the 21st century and beyond. And it gives a chance to use extensive know-how and assets in more humanitarian ways to help improve the lives of our Polish neighbors.

The success of Victory Strike III depends on the efforts of a huge team of diverse and dedicated soldiers and civilians -- U.S. and Polish, privates and colonels, computer operators and communications technicians, pilots and truck drivers, artillerymen and infantrymen, and many more.

The exercise took place on the Drawsko Pomorskie and Wedrzyn Training Areas near Szczecin, Poland. The exercise included V Corps' newly-acquired Apache Longbow helicopters.

Highlights of this year's exercise included an airborne operation to practice capturing an enemy airfield, combat search and rescue missions, the use of the corps' long-range surveillance detachment and the introduction of the Tactical Airfield Integration System to coordinate combat flights. Victory Strike III also tested the corps' ability to rapidly deploy and sustain its command post and support elements in a combat scenario.

During Victory Strike III, V Corps launched deep-strike attack missions behind "enemy" lines, supported by a Joint Air Attack Team of U.S. Air Force F-16 Falcons. These attack missions will fly against an opposing force consisting of U.S. and Polish units armed with Stinger and Avenger air defense systems.

In addition to military cooperation between U.S. and Polish forces, V Corps engineer units completed humanitarian civic assistance projects during the exercise.

About 100 V Corps soldiers and their equipment literally "shipped out" for the corps exercise Victory Strike III in Poland, deploying on the Army's experimental high-speed vessel from Bremerhaven to Szczecin, Poland to support the exercise. Soldiers, from Mannheim, Germany's 181st Transportation Battalion, 3rd Corps Support Command was transported on HSV-X1 Joint Venture.

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