The Marine Corps Tactics and Operations Group (MCTOG) and U.S. Joint Forces Command's (USJFCOM) Joint Fires Integration and Interoperability Team (JFIIT) partnered to improve the joint training and combat readiness of Marine battalion and regimental staffs before they deploy to Afghanistan and Iraq.
By Casey Bain
(TWENTYNINE PALMS, Calif. - Aug. 24, 2009) - The Marine Corps Tactics and Operations Group (MCTOG) and U.S. Joint Forces Command's (USJFCOM) Joint Fires Integration and Interoperability Team (JFIIT) partnered here to improve the joint training and combat readiness of Marine battalion and regimental staffs before they deploy to Afghanistan and Iraq.
The recently completed Spartan Resolve exercise included academic instruction, a command post exercise, and a live fire event.
The exercise focused on integrating joint, coalition, and interagency partners in a live, virtual, and constructive environment replicating conditions commanders and staffs will experience once deployed, according to leaders at MCTOG.
"The only way you can replicate the environment that you find in Afghanistan and Iraq is to make it joint and interagency," said Marine Corps Col. William F. Mullen III, commander, MCTOG. "We want our units going through the training here to have a déjà vu-like experience when they get into theater - we don't want them to have any surprises."
An important part of training equips Marine Corps commanders and staffs with knowledge they need to use the joint combat multipliers at their disposal when deployed according to MCTOG leaders.
"Our goal is to teach Marines how to plan, integrate, and employ joint fires and intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) assets in a realistic operational environment similar to what they will experience once in theater," said Marine Corps Lt. Col. Rob Buzby, executive officer, MCTOG. "It's a joint fight, and organizations like JFIIT help our Marines learn how to employ joint capabilities that will improve our effectiveness against today's asymmetric threat."
JFIIT assisted MCTOG as they trained battalion and regimental staffs by providing joint fires and ISR subject matter experts to coach, teach and mentor during Spartan Resolve.
"MCTOG does an excellent job of integrating joint assets to replicate a near-real-world environment," said Army Maj. John Bowman, JFIIT lead at MCTOG. "Our mission is to help integrate the joint enablers of the targeting process that teach and reinforce tactics, techniques, and procedures (TTP) that will shorten their learning curve once in country."
Spartan Resolve also provided immediate training feedback to commanders and staffs throughout the exercise.
"By working together with JFIIT and others, we're able to provide a realistic training environment and feedback methodology that is based on current doctrine and TTP being used in theater," said Marine Corps Lt. Col. Tim Barrick, operations officer, MCTOG. "The lessons that the Marines learn here are a vital part of the unit's pre-deployment training."
Other organizations supporting this were the U.S. Special Operations Command, the Central Intelligence Agency, Counter-Improvised Explosive Device Operations Integration Center, National Ground Intelligence Center, U.S. Agency for International Development, International Committee of the Red Cross, and others.
"The strength of this exercise is our ability to pull in so many experts who represent many of the same organizations that our Marines will work with in theater," said Scott Campbell, joint exercise planner at MCTOG. "It's the only exercise that provides this kind of training to our battalion and regimental staffs before they deploy."
The primary training audience may be the Marines, but other service partners also value this joint training experience.
"I will be able to apply the lessons that I've learned from this exercise to better plan and execute future training events," said Army Maj. Brian Ferguson, assistant fire support coordinator, 10th Marines, Camp Lejeune, N.C. "The training here has helped me achieve a higher level of understanding of how to conduct joint operations."
MCTOG plans to continue integration of joint assets preparing Marines for today's irregular warfare environment.
"This training is a necessity for any unit that wants to fight in today's operational environment," added Buzby. "Today's operating environment requires Marines to have an open mind and an absolute willingness to work with others. We will only fight and win as a joint team - that integration will be the key to our success today and on future battlefields."