July 26, 2003, 14:38 EST

29th ID completes Warfighter exercise

Sgt. 1st Class David Moore
29th ID(L) PAO


 
Maj. Gen. Daniel E. Long, commanding general of the 29th Infantry Division, receives an update on the Blueland War's progress from Col. Kenneth Smith, the division chief of staff. (Photo courtesy 29th ID Public Affairs Office)
The 29th Infantry Division (Light) wrapped up its digital war this week with the completion of a two-week Warfighter Exercise at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas.

While there were plenty of dead computer icons on the screens, all the soldiers returned home safe.

While the conflict was not real, the Battle Command Training Center staff leveraged the computerized exercise to match the stress of what combat division staff element soldiers would face in the event of real war.

Using complicated scenarios from the post Cold War era to Iraqi Freedom, division staff elements under the operation called Omaha Fury, as well as staff from the division subordinate brigades and battalions were put to the test in the area of military decision making based on Army doctrine.

Nearly 1200 soldiers of the 29th ID participated in the training, which was overseen by First U.S., Army. Also engaged in the simulation war were about 150 soldiers of the New York Army National Guard's 42nd Infantry Division serving as a corps staff.

 
At left, Brigadier General Edward H. Ballard, the 29th's assistant division commander of support, Maj. Gen. Daniel E. Long, division commander, and Lt. Col. Shirley  Ammon, work out details to put more troops into the Blueland fight. (Photo by Sgt. Jordan St. John)

"Warfighter is a major challenge. It's the kind of challenge I saw when I played baseball. It's good to play the game well. It's great to win and in this case it's important to win in the sense of this training," said Maj. Gen. Daniel E. Long, division commander.

According to military leaders participating in the Warfighter Exercise, commonly referred to only as Warfighter, the computer simulation training is the most effective way to train since it brings the entire division staff together in one location, and uses the computer simulation to provide the soldiers. Since the 29th ID has soldiers in Virginia, Maryland, Massachusetts, Connecticut, and North Carolina, it is a cost effective way to conduct staff level training.

For the training scenario, the forces of the fictitious Pacific country of the Contemporary Peoples New Republic CPNR cross the nation of Blueland's border. The goal of the exercise is to restore the border -- with support of a United Nations Security Resolution, and coalition partners giving the U.S. military the authority to move in.

After negotiations fail, the 29th and attached units such as Civil Affairs launch offensive operations. Casualties occur immediately, and the headquarters personnel or G1 section has to begin the process of providing replacement soldiers to carry out the battles.
As a result, logistics or the G4 section must provide transportation to get the soldiers into the fight and make sure they arrive in the right duty positions.

Another scenario involved killing of civilians by division artillery fire, despite the fact that all precautionary procedures had been followed before the units responded to an attack in the region by CPNR forces.

All battlefield operating systems are levied during the training, ranging from airlift of equipment to night aerial assaults by Apache helicopters of the 1st/158th Cavalry Squadron.

Lt. Col. Paul A. Burke, 158th commander, said during a briefing that he believes bringing the fight to the enemy with his force was the largest part of the battle. But he summed up the event by saying all of the units who were in the fight were equally as important and the 158th was just one small piece of a very large puzzle.

Warfighter also focused on the synchronization of information operations and dealing with non-government organizations on the battlefield. These organizations provide support like medical care and assistance in reestablishing a country's infrastructure.

The division headquarters trained with its 1st Brigade, Virginia, 26th Yankee Brigade, Massachussett, and Maryland, 3rd and Aviation Brigades. To provide a joint operation environment Air Force personnel were also used in such areas as air support and weather.

The United States Army Reserve 478th Civil Affairs Battalion, Perrine, Fla. also provided its expertise for the training.

"We're very busy, the days are long but the time just flew by," said Spc. Mary Turay, of division's headquarters company who worked in G4. "The amount of work and learning is just incredible."

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