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Unit Assesses New Iteration of Army’s Forge Exercise

FORT LEONARD WOOD, Mo. — Fort Leonard Wood cadre and trainees, in coordination with the U.S. Army Center for Initial Military Training, are assessing a new basic combat training culminating event to help better prepare Soldiers for their first units by showing them “what right looks like,” according to Capt. Julio Sanchez, Company A, 31st Engineer Battalion commander.

The new concept, called Forge 2.5, features large-scale combat operations scenarios and continuous tactical operations. It is intended to be more realistic and challenging than its predecessor, all while also increasing the tactical skills of trainees and enabling cadre — including company command teams and drill sergeants — to develop as leaders.

In March, Alpha Company, under the command of Sanchez, was the first Fort Leonard Wood unit to pilot Forge 2.5. Sanchez said the new format enhances the current Forge model.

“The limitation of the current Forge is that the trainees are the ones in the leadership roles for the mission sets,” Sanchez said. “With the new Forge 2.5 concept, the drill sergeants are acting as the squad leaders, heading these missions for the trainees and showing them what right looks like.”

Part of that leadership responsibility includes showing the trainees how the operations process works, Sanchez said.

“The trainees are the ones actually executing casualty evaluation, gathering and sending reports, and the drill sergeants are leading them through all those different things they’ve learned so far in the basic combat training portion of [one station unit training,]” Sanchez said. “In doing so, [the drill sergeants] showed the trainees the actual operations process and what that would look like if they received a mission. The trainees got a lot of value added in understanding, ‘OK, here’s task and purpose, this is what this means, this is important stuff I should listen to in the order process.’”

The new concept has the additional benefit of helping develop the cadre as well, said Staff Sgt. Nevin Salem, one of the Alpha Company drill sergeants in charge of the four-day event.

“It does benefit the drill sergeants because some have never been in a squad leader position,” Salem said. “This gives them that opportunity.”

For company leadership — and future company leadership, including junior officers new to a unit — the Forge 2.5 concept also provides chances to focus on some of the processes and procedures used to assist in mission command, Sanchez said.

“I thoroughly enjoyed it because it allowed me to execute and stress the command post and getting reports and battle tracking,” Sanchez said. “It really gives us a chance to mold the junior engineer lieutenants we’re now getting straight from [Basic Officer Leader Course.]”

The trainees seemed to enjoy the updated format as well, Salem said, because “they had an actual NCO lead the mission.”

“They executed the mission; they gave me the reports; I sent up the reports; and we treated it as an actual mission,” Salem said.

By Brian Hill, Fort Leonard Wood Public Affairs Office

One Response to “Unit Assesses New Iteration of Army’s Forge Exercise”

  1. Spec9 says:

    It does benefit the drill sergeants because some have never been in a squad leader position,” Salem said. “This gives them that opportunity.”

    Wait, what? A Drill Sergeant that hasn’t been a squad leader? My how the Army has changed. Turn me into oil, I’m a dinosaur.

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