ATLANTA --- “We are in a war with no rear areas or front lines. We have to instill Warrior Ethos into the mobilized Soldiers we train. Every Soldier must be able to function as an infantryman. Soldiers must have tough, realistic, hands-on, repetitive training until their response is intuitive.”
That is the vision Lt. Gen. Russell L. Honoré, commanding general of First U.S. Army, shared with leaders at the First U.S. Army Commander’s Conference in Atlanta. He aims to accomplish this with what he calls “theater-immersion training.”
“When Soldiers get off the bus at the mob (mobilization) station, they must feel they have arrived in Iraq or Afghanistan,” Honoré said.
Instead of living in a normal garrison environment, Soldiers will see concertina wire, entry-control points and guard towers to simulate the forward operating base environment. “In an FOB, small-unit leaders not only train on theater-specific tasks,” said Honoré, “they have an opportunity to exercise their troop-leading procedures and basic discipline on a continuous basis.”
Since time is limited at the mobilization station, immediately immersing Soldiers into a replicated combat zone enables focused training 24 hours a day, and retraining can take place as needed.
“We can repeatedly train Soldiers on multiple tasks. For example, a single simulated mortar attack trains react to indirect fire, casualty-evacuation procedures and a nine-line medical evacuation, damage assessment, counter-battery fire and many other procedures they might never get the chance to practice more than once,” said Col. Christian de Graf, commander, 2d Brigade, 87th Division (Training Support).
“In Iraq, a mortar or an [improved explosive device] can hit at anytime – not just during scheduled training periods. We can train Soldiers the way they will fight, and the theater-immersion concept allows us to do that,” said Col. Daniel Zajac, commander, 3rd Brigade, 87th Division (Training Support). “The standard for how we train Soldiers comes from the theater. We are constantly adjusting our training based on current operations in theater. The theater-immersion concept provides the flexibility to do that real time.”
“Theater immersion is a dynamic training approach that gives us greater flexibility to train Soldiers. With theater immersion, we can create more events, longer events, ramp up the volume or turn it down, based on the training needs of Soldiers and units,” said Col. Al Jones, First Army’s deputy chief of staff for operations. “Our goal is that Soldiers respond to threats intuitively, regardless of the situation in which they might find themselves.”
“We have a non-negotiable contract with the American people to prepare her sons and daughters for war,” Honoré said. “We must use imagination and innovation to do this better than we ever have before. We cannot, we will not fail in this task.”
‘Theater-Immersion Training’ New Watchword for First U.S. Army