Military exercise simulates direct action training environment

By 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.