U.S. Joint Forces Command's Joint Fires Integration and Interoperability Team (JFIIT) is helping soldiers understand the various aspects of available weapons systems and capabilities at Ft. Polk's Joint Readiness Training Center as they prepare for operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.
By Casey E. Bain
(JOINT READINESS TRAINING CENTER, FT. POLK, LA. - Mar. 31, 2008) - Soldiers preparing for operations overseas are learning how the military services can work together to manage joint fires air-ground support as they go through training at this Louisiana base.
Part of this joint integration training is a concept known as brigade combat team (BCT) air-ground integration (A-GI), an initiative that is being led by U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command, U.S. Air Force Air Combat Command, and supported by U.S. Joint Forces Command's Joint Fires Integration and Interoperability Team (JFIIT).
The Joint Readiness Training Center (JRTC) uses joint initiatives like BCT A-GI to enhance Army BCT training rotations to help prepare them for combat operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.
"Army and Air Force assets are working closely here to improve their synchronization and coordination that will help make an already strong team even better," said Air Force Lt. Col. Rhude Cherry III, commander, Detachment 1, 548th Combat Training Squadron (CTS) here.
JRTC has been able to successfully integrate joint assets with Army training rotations to include the most recent exercise involving the Ft. Hood, Texas-based 4th BCT, 1st Cavalry Division. "JRTC is exceptional at improving the joint warfighting skills of rotational training units (RTU) that train here," said Air Force Capt. Quiana Batts, operations director, Detachment 1, 548th CTS.
"We've been able to fully integrate joint terminal attack controllers, non-traditional intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, and other joint assets to enhance the BCT's training that will prove to be crucial to their success once in theater."
"BCT A-GI has been helpful for our soldiers involved in the brigade's fire support process, and has been very useful in helping foster a better understanding and provide a greater fires perspective within the BCT staff," said Army Chief Warrant Officer Shawn Tolliver, targeting and electronic warfare officer, 4th BCT, 1st Cavalry Division. "In the end, it enhances our teamwork and helps us to function as one well synchronized fires support team."
Facilitating a joint training environment at JRTC has been a significant focus for this combat training center. "The key to success of integrating these unique capabilities and building a joint team is our ability to embed joint assets with every RTU from the time the unit begins preparation for their JRTC rotation, and maintaining that joint focus until the day they complete training, and prepare to deploy," said Batts.
Providing joint education for the soldiers and airmen that train in this realistic and stressful environment has also been an important benefit for those training at JRTC. "It's not easy, but JRTC excels at coaching, teaching and mentoring our young leaders on how to properly leverage each services strengths and capabilities to form a well-synchronized joint team," said Cherry.
"Ensuring all warfighters fully understand the capabilities and limitations of each weapons system and sensor is crucial. This teaches the RTUs to use the right process for requesting and employing the correct weapon system in battle; and ultimately, results with the right weapon being at the right place and time to achieve the ground commander's desired effects on the battlefield."
According to JRTC leaders, the goal of this joint integrated training is to enhance BCT combat effectiveness while reducing the potential of fratricide and collateral damage. "By teaching and reinforcing fundamental joint warfighting tactics, techniques and procedures here, they become second nature to the warfighter, and once deployed in theater, translates into seamless execution in a high stress combat environment," said Cherry.