My unit, the 1/25 SBCT (Stryker Brigade Combat Team) conducted their Mission Readiness Exercise (MRE) at the National Training Center (NTC) this month. The MRE is a two-week training event in “the Box” at
Our training exercise at NTC was conducted in the fictional “
Instead of an empty desert,
During our rotation at NTC, we had to leverage all the assets available to a unit within a Brigade Combat Team to conduct the full breadth of missions expected of it. We have Civil Affairs (CAs -- assisting in building up infrastructure, etc), Tactical Psyops Teams (TPTs, reaching the populace with our Information Operations messages), Dogs (MWD - bomb sniffing), ANGLICO (Air Naval Gunfire LIason Company - leverage fixed wing and rotary wing aircraft for Close Air Support), EOD (Explosive Ordnance Disposal -- clearing the roads of IEDs) and others attached as enablers. The enablers job was to assist the combat unit conduct its mission by lending expertise in areas where we have requirements but not necessarily the specialized personnel. While not necessarily the focus, their mission is vital to the success of any unit in FSO.
The individual unit must work on providing security for our respective Area of Operations (AO) by deliberately targeting the terrorists with lethal operations (capture/kill), but also leveraging non-lethal means to pull the population away from the terrorists. Terrorists and insurgents rely on the local population - remove the support of the local population and the insurgency withers ( an example of this is Al Qaeda in much of
That is what makes the Counter-Insurgency (COIN) pioneered by General David Petraeus so important. No longer is the COIN fight about playing “whack-a-mole” and “body-counts”. Rather the COIN fight is first and foremost focused on the population. That population (at NTC, the roll players of
FM 3-24 is the manual that articulates this doctrine in regards to COIN and is the governing document behind the success of the surge in
It is important that every operation have an Iraqi face as we conduct out interactions with the Iraqi population. As the great insurgent leader T.E. Lawrence said, “It is better for the Arab to do it tolerably well, than for us to do it perfectly”. That is the essence of a Counter-Insurgent Fight. The National Training Center teaches those lessons to every unit deploying to Iraq and Afghanistan. The training received at the NTC is one of the reasons that the fight in Iraq has turned around and we are now winning the COIN fight.