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.