Feb. 24, 2010

Multinational Reserve units conduct civil military exercise at Fort Pickett

By Sgt. Andrew H. Owen
Virginia Guard Public Affairs

FORT PICKETT, Va.—International and U.S. Forces teamed up at the Virginia National Guard Maneuver Training Center Feb. 12-22 to participate in Southbound Trooper X, an exercise focusing on civil affairs operations in the war in Afghanistan.

  Southbound Trooper X

British Royal Marine Commando Pannu Jaskaran pulls security while training during Exercise Southbound Trooper X, Feb. 17, 2010 at Fort Pickett. The Royal Marines are on their way to conduct a meet and greet with a village elder to assess its needs and wants in order to rebuild, stabilize and sustain local communities. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Justin Paul Howe)

Southbound Trooper is a scenario based training exercise that brings together civil military cooperation forces and psychological operations teams from the 3 Operational Support Group, Land Force Atlantic, Canadian Army Reserve with civil military cooperation troops of the U.K. Royal Marines and civil affairs Soldiers of the 450th Civil Affairs Battalion, U.S. Army Reserve to focus, in a coalition environment, on the governance and reconstruction aspects of the mission in Afghanistan, according to Maj. Sanchez King, commander of the Canadian contingency.

The Soldiers and Royal Marines worked together to create Provincial Reconstruction Teams to go out in to the field in the Kandahar-based scenarios while on the training sites at Fort Pickett. The troops entered the training areas as the PRT and interacted with role-players to gauge the climate of the different villages and focus on how they could make life better for the inhabitants in the exercise.

“The most important thing for us is the international connection, so getting each of the different countries together is vital,” said King. “Canadian and U.S. Civil Affairs and CiMiC troops are working together now in Kandahar and our British counterparts are next door in Helmand Province, so we are doing this kind of work in the theater of operations.”

“Our objective is to support the maneuver commander as civil affairs operators,” said Lt. Col. John Lawlor, commander of the 450th Civil Affairs Battalion. “We come in and do an assessment of areas and make sure we know what their needs and requirements are to see how we might assist the local populous and see what assets the local populous may have to assist the maneuver unit.”

While the troops were at MTC they had plenty of opportunities to take advantage of the many training facilities the site has to offer.

  Southbound Trooper X

Canadian soldiers radio in a 9-Line medical evacuation during Exercise Southbound Trooper X at Fort Pickett, Va., Feb. 16, 2010. Southbound Trooper is a training exercise integrating Canadian, British and American troops. (U.S. Army photo by Spc. Justin Cheek)

“There are some really unique training devices that are here. There’s a Humvee roll-over trainer and there are some video-based weapons training systems that we’ll use as fillers for opportunity training,” said Lawlor. “We’re doing those in conjunction with the Canadians and the Royal Marines as well.”

In addition to the virtual training and simulators available, the Soldiers and Royal Marines also had the chance to run through some of the live-fire lanes, including the “kill house.”

“The kill house was obviously the highlight,” said Cpl. Gus Martin, Royal Marines Reserve, Scotland. “Back home they are few and far between. You pretty much have to be Special Forces to get regular training with them, so to get that facility is pretty good to include in the package.”

With over 20 live-fire ranges, an urban warfare complex, simulated forward operating bases, and several training villages at Fort Pickett, the Reserve forces had many opportunities to utilize the most high-tech and real-to life training aids available to modern forces.

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