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Army Simulator Hones Combat Skills (Jan. 16)



WASHINGTON --- The Army's Warfighter computer simulation exercise is about combat, but is not warfighting itself, the Army's top soldier recently said.

Army Chief of Staff Gen. Eric K. Shinseki made those remarks to more than 200 2nd Infantry Division officer and NCO leaders who attended the after-action review of the division's mid-December Warfighter on Dec. 16 at Camp Casey, Republic of Korea.

"The computer is forgiving -- you can tell the computer to send a recon squad to a particular set of coordinates and I guarantee you the computer will get it there on time," Shinseki said. "Wake up a recon squad of real troops at 2 a.m. and give them the mission, and you will find they will encounter real-life problems that a computer program could never capture."

However, the exercise does allow a commander the chance to synchronize all the parts that go into a battle plan and see it all come together, Shinseki said.

It is also an exercise that allows Army leaders see how well commanders and their staffs work together across more than just one level of command.

Based out of Fort Leavenworth, Kan., the Army's Battle Command Training Program travels the globe to provide Warfighter training to commanders and staffs from brigade through joint-service and coalition levels of forces. The mobile teams tie back into the mainframe computer at Fort Leavenworth for a scenario-based exercise derived from the unit's potential area of operations and combat missions. The 2nd ID's primary missions for its Warfighter were to defeat long-range artillery assets and maneuver to facilitate a corps counterattack.

The BCTP team consists of a "free-thinking" opposition force, trainers, observer controllers and senior observers who serve as mentors. Retired Gen. Edwin Burba Jr. served as mentor to Maj. Gen. Russel Honore', 2nd ID commanding general, during the exercise.

While Burba praised Honore' for maneuvering his forces well enough to destroy three attacking North Korean divisions, he advised Honore' to pay more attention beyond the close-in fight.

"(The exercise) was tough and it stretched you," Burba said. "Look forward. Visualize what you want to do and start shaping the battle toward that end."

Honore' admitted he loved "getting in there and mixing it up, up close and personal" and would have to work with his staff on better planning for future operations while fighting the current battle.

In his after-action comments, Shinseki said that those who master transitions on the battlefield -- a river crossing, passage of lines, reconstituting after an attack -- will ultimately determine the outcome of the battle and that logistics is the key player in minimizing the transitions.

"Think of the lethal striking power of a rattlesnake -- we keep a healthy distance when it is coiled to strike," Shinseki said. "Once he has struck and is stretched out, we will come closer and get a closer look because you would have to put your hand in his mouth to be in any danger then. The coils of a good division are in its logistics, in its ability to reconstitute the force quickly during the transitions.

"Anytime we go into combat, we are looking for a 100 to nothing contest," Shinseki said. "Twenty-five to 14 is a win, but not for us."

The recent 2nd ID Warfighter was multi-component as it also tested the skills of the division's Army National Guard 3rd Brigade commander and staff, and various Army Reserve augmentees, in addition to the active-duty commander and staffs of the division and 1st and 2nd brigades.

The 82nd Airborne and 3rd Infantry divisions will participate in a corps-level Warfighter scheduled in late January at Fort Stewart, Ga.

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Warfighter Tests Command And Control Skills