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Archive for the ‘Forces Focus’ Category

This Will Blow Some Minds

Saturday, May 18th, 2019

A US Marine with 1st Reconnaissance Battalion, 1st Marine Division, fires downrange amid an immediate action drill during exercise Platinum Ren at Fort Trondennes, Harstad, Norway, May 13, 2019.

(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Tayler P. Schwamb)

A note from Eric:

If I would’ve just posted this pic, without the caption, many would’ve exclaimed that this was an airsofter. We would have seen comments that all sorts of things were wrong and that “they don’t do it that way.”

Here’s another photo from that same event. Chew on this one. But remember, as long as it’s in the context of a joint range session with Norwegian troops, it makes perfect sense.

Allies to Join Army Futures Command

Saturday, April 13th, 2019

FORT MEADE, Md. — U.S. military allies have been embedded into the Army’s eight cross-functional teams to strengthen the force against potential adversaries, Army leaders told lawmakers Tuesday.

Lt. Gen. James Richardson said representatives of these allied nations will also be stationed with Army Futures Command, headquartered in Austin, Texas. The general, who serves as the command’s deputy commander, did not specify which countries but said both officers and non-commissioned officers have already joined some cross-functional teams.

Allied cooperation will be crucial for future success on the battlefield, Richardson said during a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing.

“Interoperability is huge for our Army,” he said. “We fight as a coalition and we fight as joint partners and it’s been one of [AFC Commander Gen. John Murray’s] top priorities to ensure that we’re interoperable, not only across the joint force, but our coalition forces.”

Joint exercises such as Balikatan and Cobra Gold help foster good relations between partner nations. Balikatan is an annual military exercise between U.S. and Philippine forces. In February the Army participated in the annual Cobra Gold exercise, a joint-combined venture that includes Thailand, Singapore and Japan.

Additionally, Randall Schriver, assistant defense secretary for Indo-Pacific Security Affairs, told an audience at the Center for Strategic and International Studies Wednesday that the U.S. would like to strengthen relations and enhance military ties with Vietnam.

“[Interoperability] is one of the three tenets of both the National Defense Strategy and our Army strategy,” said Lt. Gen. James Pasquarette, Army G-8, emphasizing the importance of allies and partners.

“So we have a robust exercise program in both Europe and [the Indo-Pacific] our two focus theaters that help us deepen those bonds,” he added. “We believe it’s making a big difference and we believe in the future. It’s our way of countering the two threats we’ve been talking about here today, Russia and China.”

The Army created the newly-formed Futures Command to streamline the acquisition process and to lead the Army’s modernization efforts. In addition to placing partner nation representatives within the command, the Army hopes to reach small businesses and innovators.

Last fall, the service stood up the Army Applications Laboratory in Austin, which focuses on helping deliver innovative technologies from small businesses and young developers.

“[They’re] bringing technologies that we otherwise would not have seen,” Richardson said.

With Army representatives stationed within “incubator” hubs in Austin, the Army plans to encourage contributions to its modernization efforts from small businesses, said AFC leaders.

Story by Joe Lacdan, Army News Service

Photos by SGT Alvin Reeves and DVIDS

C Sq, AWG Conducts Pre-Mission Training

Tuesday, March 12th, 2019

While rumors of the Army pulling the plug on the Asymmetric Warfare Group (AWG) have been around since it’s founding, it’s still here, and I recommend that hard-charging NCOs seek a tour with this unique unit.

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Members assigned to Charlie Squadron, Asymmetric Warfare Group (AWG), conducts Pre-Mission Training (PMT) designed to enhance advisory assistants to Brigade Combat Teams and lethality at Fort A.P. Hill, Va, Mar. 11, 2019. Pre-Mission Training ensures Operational Advisors, Technical Advisors and Enablers are trained and proficient in marksmanship; mobility; communication; medical; driver’s training; C-IED; sUAS; and heavy weapon operations in order to deploy in support of AWG’s missions. AWG provides global operational advisory support to U.S. Army forces to rapidly transfer current threat based observations and solutions (TTPs) to tactical and operational Army commanders in order to defeat emerging asymmetric threats and enhance multi-domain effectiveness. Bottom line, AWG advises blue forces (BLUFOR) on best practices across a range of military operations with current and relevant information while scouting threat TTPs and gaining context of operational environments to support the fielded force and help units win.

Soldiers Train With Allies To Survive Jungle

Thursday, February 28th, 2019

CAMP BAROMMATRAILOKKANAT, Thailand — Soldiers of the 5th Battalion, 20th Infantry Regiment, and the Royal Thai Army (RTA) learned jungle survival skills, basic rifle marksmanship and room clearing procedures Feb. 13, 2019, at Camp Barommatrailokkanat, Thailand, during Exercise Cobra Gold.

The training was an exchange of skills between the two armies. U.S. Soldiers would demonstrate their tactics and techniques, conduct practical exercises and the RTA soldier would do the same.

“This training increases interoperability by having us understand each army’s tactics better,” said Sgt. John Drayton, a team leader with 5-20th Inf. “We will be ready if we ever had to operate with each other in the future.”

This training helps build a common picture between the U.S. Army and the Royal Thai Army, said Sgt. 1st Class Derrick Dritchas, the first sergeant for B Company, 5-20th Inf. The U.S. Soldiers learned the Thai tactics, standard operating procedures, and shared their knowledge on the subject with the RTA.

“Being in Thailand is a new experience for most people here,” Drayton said. “Just training and operating in this environment teaches Soldiers how be better prepared for missions in this region.”

They don’t know what missions may come down in the future, said Dritchas. The jungle training gave these Soldiers the ability to find edible plants, wildlife and where to find water. Having those skills to survive off of the land in the jungle is invaluable.

The Thais taught them things he never knew such as ants can be a signal of where to find water, said Spc. Louis Smith, a Soldier with B Co. 5-20th Inf. He now knows how find those food and water sources in the jungle if something were to happen to him in the future.

“I want my Soldiers to fully experience the cultural of Thailand and understand the training value of going to another country,” Dritchas said. “Understanding this culture and how their army operates is a valuable skill for Soldiers to have.”

By SSG Samuel Northrup

NSRDEC, Now the CCDC Soldier Center, Has a New Name and a Bright Future

Tuesday, February 5th, 2019

NATICK, Mass. — The U.S. Army Natick Soldier Research, Development and Engineering Center, or NSRDEC, located in Natick, Mass., became the Combat Capabilities Development Command Soldier Center, or CCDC Soldier Center, on February 3.

The CCDC Soldier Center is part of the Army Futures Command, or AFC. The Army Futures Command is part of the Army’s modernization effort and is committed to Soldier readiness.

AFC will work to get Soldiers what they need as quickly as possible. The command will focus on using the very best available expertise and on creating a climate that encourages and accelerates technology innovation and exploration.

As part of the Army Futures Command, the CCDC Soldier Center will continue to be the Soldier’s RDEC, ensuring dominance through superior scientific and engineering expertise and innovation. The center will continue to expand its commitment to its mission areas, including Soldier Performance Optimization, Soldier Protection and Survivability, Simulation and Training Technology, Expeditionary Maneuver Support, DOD Combat Feeding and Aerial Delivery.

The CCDC Soldier Center will build upon the extensive collaborations with industry and academia that it established as NSRDEC. The Soldier Center’s collaborators include Harvard University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Tufts University, Worcester Polytechnic Institute, and the University of Massachusetts — Lowell — to just name a few.

As the Soldier’s RDEC, the CCDC Soldier Center will build upon existing initiatives that underscore the center’s commitment to Soldier performance and lethality and will continue to rely on Soldier input to provide the modern warfighter with the very best that technology has to offer.

By Jane Benson, CCDC Soldier Center Public Affairs

RDECOM Transitions to Army Futures Command

Monday, February 4th, 2019

ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. — The Army Materiel Command (AMC) and Army Futures Command (AFC) held a ceremony on January 31, transitioning the U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command (RDECOM) from AMC to AFC. The official date of the transfer is Feb. 3 during which RDECOM will be renamed Combat Capabilities Development Command.

“The United States Army has been focused on the near-term for the last 18 years, and rightfully so. But as we wind down and come out of the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan the message is very, very clear, we need to re-focus on large-scale, ground combat and we need to re-focus on the future,” said Gen. John M. Murray, commanding general AFC.

(Left to right) Commanding General Army Materiel Command Gen. Gustave F. Perna, Commanding General Army Futures Command Gen. John M. Murray and Commanding General Combat Capabilities Development Command Maj. Gen. Cedric T. Wins during a Transition of Authority ceremony Jan. 31 at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Md. (Photo Credit: Conrad Johnson)

As the Army’s newest command and the largest of AFC’s three major elements, the Combat Capabilities Development Command (CCDC) comprises eight major and three international centers and laboratories including: Data & Analysis Center; Armaments Center; Army Research Laboratory; Aviation and Missile Center; Chemical Biological Center; Command, Control, Computers, Communications, Cyber, Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance Center; Ground Vehicle Systems Center; and Soldier Center. The international elements are the regionally aligned Americas, Atlantic and Pacific Centers.

Army Materiel Systems Analysis Activity officially became part of AFC during the ceremony and was renamed Data & Analysis Center. It was realigned with existing CCDC analysis organizations to create an integrated analysis center.

At a Transition of Authority ceremony Jan. 31, Gen. John M. Murray, commanding general Army Futures Command, addresses the Army’s effort to focus on technologies to support Multi-Domain Operations. The ceremony, held at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Md. signified the transfer of the U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command from Army Materiel Command to AFC. (Photo Credit: Conrad Johnson)

The three major elements of the AFC include: Futures and Concepts, Combat Development and Combat Systems.

As part of the Combat Development element, CCDC will focus on fundamental scientific research, technology development, engineering and analysis to support the Army’s six modernization priorities: Long-Range Precision Fires, Next-Generation Combat Vehicle, Future Vertical Lift, the Network, Air & Missile Defense and Soldier Lethality. Key tenants of the CCDC’s mission are speed of delivery and integrating technology into existing weapon systems.

CCDC joining AFC is the next step in the Army’s effort to transform its approach to modernize critical core capabilities that will give Soldiers and allies a decisive edge in battle. As the modernization strategy focuses on delivering capabilities to support Multi-Domain Operations by 2028, CCDC will maintain a balance between scientific research to support MDO and technology that may not be developed until 2050 or beyond.

Gen. John M. Murray, commanding general Army Futures Command, and Maj. Gen. Cedric T. Wins, commanding general Combat Capabilities Development Command, uncase the official flag, signifying the transition of the U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command from Army Materiel Command to AFC. (Photo Credit: Conrad Johnson)

“As the last commander of RDECOM and the first commander of CCDC — as a Soldier of more than 30 years — I see no bitterness in what we do here today. I see a new challenge and more reason to hope as we become part of a bigger team taking bolder action to forge the future,” said Maj. Gen. Cedric T. Wins, commanding general CCDC.

To prepare for the move to AFC, CCDC S&T advisors engaged with the Modernization Task Force, which became the AFC Headquarters, and the Cross Functional Teams to help drive the modernization process. The CFTs are composed of subject matter experts from the requirements, acquisition, science and technology, test and evaluation, resourcing, contracting, cost and sustainment communities.

The command also launched an across-the-board campaign plan to gain greater visibility of operations and become more effective and efficient. The campaign plan included reorganizing the command’s portfolio and management structures to mirror the Army’s modernization priorities and naming a lead center for each modernization priority.

CCDC collaborates with hundreds of international and domestic academic and industry partners to maintain a steady stream of world-class technology. Becoming part of AFC will enable CCDC to partner in new ways and provide greater clarity and focus for all of the Army’s major commands.

“The world-class scientists and engineers, technicians and support staff of this organization are some of the most talented and respected professionals in their fields. So on behalf of the countless Soldiers you have supported while you’ve been a member of the AMC family for the last 4,450 days, I personally say ‘thank you’,” said Gen. Gustave F. Perna, commanding general AMC.

The U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command has the mission to provide innovative research, development and engineering to produce capabilities for decisive overmatch to the Army against the complexities of the current and future operating environments in support of the Joint Warfighter and the Nation. RDECOM is a major subordinate command of the U.S. Army Materiel Command.

By Argie Sarantinos-Perrin, CCDC HQ Public Affairs

Meet JOE

Monday, January 14th, 2019

Yesterday, I found out why the Parachute Regiment refers to its troops as “Joe.”

Meet JOE.

In 1942 the PARAs were formed from soldiers already in the Army. The volunteers on transfer had their documents stamped with the letters J.O.E, standing for ‘joined on enlistment’. New members of the Regiment today are still refered to in this way.

It helps to place everyone on the same footing, building a cohesive team and family. Joe is genderless, doesn’t have a sexuality, finacial history, race, religion or come from a certain background. Joe is equal.

Sky Soldier Leaders Conduct Joint Mountain Training

Saturday, January 12th, 2019

PASSO DEL TONALE, Italy — Leaders from across the 173rd Airborne Brigade assembled here from Dec. 10-12 to experience rigorous professional development and build interoperability with Italian allies while summiting the 2,700 meters of snow covered Monte Tonale.

For exercise “Alpini Climb,” the brigade’s company commanders and first sergeants, as well as the battalion commanders and sergeants major teamed with Italy’s mountain warfare experts, the Alpini, for instruction in cold weather operations and field craft. The instruction was put to the test with a platoon sized patrol up to summit the mountain.

“It was an opportunity to bring the entire team of leaders together. We got to experience shared hardships with our Italian Allies and learn about how to live and operate in the cold which is all part of combat readiness,” said Col. Jay Bartholomees, commander of the 173rd Airborne Brigade. “It was a great opportunity to practice our craft and use our equipment in the elements.”

The 173rd Airborne Brigade is the U.S. Army’s Contingency Response Force in Europe, providing rapidly deployable forces to the United States, Europe, Africa, and Central Command’s areas of responsibilities. Forward deployed across Italy and Germany, the brigade routinely trains alongside NATO allies and partners to build partnerships and strengthen the alliance.

As part of the training, the participants surrendered their ranks along with their mobile phones and became members of a temporary platoon. The process allowed these dedicated leaders of the companies of the brigade to focus, however briefly, on the tasks ahead of them which would be rigorous.

“I found myself as a squad leader of 7th squad,” said Cpt. Jesse Carter, Commander of Bastion Co., 54th Brigade Engineer Battalion. “It gives me a whole new respect of the requirements of a squad leader and how to disseminate information in a challenging environment. I’ve learned a ton.”

At the Alpini base camp, the Paratroopers received instruction on proper use of their arctic equipment, and techniques for trekking up the mountain. Additionally, they received instruction on how to build the “trunne,” Italian for a fox-hole in the snow, and what these intrepid Paratroopers would sleep in the following night.

After departing the base camp on Tuesday, the Paratroopers marched up the snow covered mountain, with guides from the Alpini Julia Brigade, a ruck on their back, and snow shoes on their feet.

“We all feel ourselves to be very physically fit, but traversing this mountain was a smoker,” said Cpt. Andrew Williams, commander of Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 54th Brigade Engineer Battalion. “Along the way we’ve had invaluable training opportunities in survival, how to sleep in the snow, things like layering of clothing and the critical value of not sweating,” continued Williams.

After reaching the stopping point for the first night, the Paratroopers dug their buddy-team trunna and got a few hours of much needed rest to prepare for their final climb of the mountain on Wednesday morning.

At the summit, the platoon was able to witness first-hand the view that their Italian and Austrian predecessors saw over a century ago when those two Armies met in these mountains as each nation vied for the dominance of northern Italy during World War I.

“Our fighting forefathers did this same event but with much older equipment and in far harsher conditions than we did,” said Williams. “It really brings a lot of perspective while we’re up here.”

In all, the exercise was a valuable experience for the participants. These paratroopers were challenged to perform and excel in an extreme environment. But more than that, they were able to do it as a team and with allies, which besides the training, was the whole point of the exercise.

“One of the things we’ve stressed is teamwork. It’s absolutely critical that we all work together as a team and ensure that everyone makes it up as a team,” said Williams.

After summiting the mountain, and reveling in the view, the Paratrooper leaders reformed and gingerly moved back to the base of the mountain.

While many of these troops may never again be subject to mountain warfare or operating in full kit at below zero temperatures, the experience proves that Sky Soldiers will always achieve their mission weather jumping from 1,000 feet, or climbing their way past that same height.

Story By MAJ Chris Bradley, Photos by SPC Henry Villarama