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Military exercise simulates direct action training environment

Last Modified: Friday, August 23, 2013 6:24 PM

By Lauren Manary / American Press

Nearly six thousand U.S. Army soldiers are taking part in a military exercise that simulates a direct action training environment replete with a fictional conflict scenario and civilian role-players at the Joint Readiness Training Center at Fort Polk.

The rotation, which began Aug. 6, includes Fort Polk based units and Fort Bragg’s 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division, U.S. Army Special Forces Command's 4th Battalion, 5th Special Forces Group and the U.S. Air Force. The military exercises are held about ten times a year in “the box,” the forest and wilderness surrounding the base, which is often one of the last training grounds for units prior to deployment.

“Bottom line,” Maj. Gabriel Ramirez of Ops Group said. “We’re focusing on what we would call a ‘conventional threat.’ This scenario was written based on all the experiences we’ve had in the last ten years.”

The exercise comes from the U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command, which develops common training scenarios from lessons learned from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The training focuses on guerrilla, insurgent, criminal and conventional forces operating against U.S. interests.

Media was invited to witness just one part – the village of “Dara Lam” -- of the extensive fictional land of Atropia. In the scenario, it is a sovereign nation that invited U.S. Army forces in for aid because a rebel army was raiding the oil fields. Local civilian population participates in the scenarios, role-playing members of the towns that make up the training area of the Kitsatchie National Forest.

“It gives me pride,” said Lloyd Elletson, who role-plays the provincial governor. “When (soldiers) go into real-world situations, they’re going to be more prepared after this.”

Role-players are given an identity and an occupation per rotation -- they operate shops around the towns and some act as reporters for both the radio broadcast and daily newspapers distributed in Dara Lam. “Al Mediyah Times” is friendly to U.S. forces and the other “People’s Voice,” is sympathetic to the fictitious South Atropian People’s Army.

Fort Polk-based units 1st Maneuver Enhancement Brigade, Operations Group, 1st of the 509th and the 162nd are also serving various roles in the training. They assisted the 82nd’s phased airborne parachute operation, noncombatant evacuation, combined arms maneuver, wide-area security, unconventional warfare and unified land operations according to a press release. The rotation ends Aug. 31.

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