Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Joint Readiness Training Center observers take lessons from Mountain troops on ground

By Spc. Chris McCann,
2nd BCT PAO, 10th Mtn. Div. (LI)

CAMP STRIKER, Iraq — “We’re here on a fact-finding mission,” said Maj. Mike Kimball, an observer-controller for the Joint Readiness Training Center at Fort Polk, La., visiting the Commando area of operations under the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division (LI).
“We strive to stay relevant because we’re charged with training Soldiers before they deploy. We’re the busiest combat training center, and we must stay relevant.”
To do that, Kimball and the other OCs visit troops downrange in Iraq and Afghanistan, studying what works and what doesn’t in the ever-changing war on terrorism.
“We send a smattering of people from different operations - information, aviation, fire support and others. We converge on a chosen brigade and spread out to see how they’re conducting operations,” Kimball said.
The team of eight officers spent 12 days in the area studying.
“It’s been absolutely invaluable,” Kimball said. The team has spent time with plans officers, company commanders and troops on the ground. Kimball explained that what they learn is put into a trip report which is the genesis of the tactics, techniques and procedures that they coach deploying units on.
Kimball cited the 2nd BCT are not hesitating to get on the ground with Iraqi civilians as a great positive which will be taught to Soldiers preparing to head overseas.
“Dismounted operations are key,” he said. “No matter who you are, get out of the trucks, get out in the villages. Don’t commute to work.”
“We hadn’t actually seen it work,” Kimball said. The OCs were sure that it would be effective, but they had no proof.
“Now we’ve seen it work. We can say, ‘In country, they’re doing this, and it works’.”
Lt. Col. Dwight Duquesnay, the senior OC and native of Pheonix, gave the Commando Brigade high marks for the operations in the south Baghdad area.
“We were very well received by the units,” he said. “The Soldiers and leaders understand the importance of the training at the CTCs, and bent over backwards to integrate us.”
He also said that the brigade is performing very well.
“(The brigade) is in outstanding shape,” Duquesnay said. “Sometimes we come to a newly formed brigade, but this one is at its peak, operating at a very high level. It’s refreshing to see.”
The lessons learned here are critical, he added.
“It will allow us to improve the training at JRTC,” he said.
Having the OCs visit was beneficial to the 2nd BCT as well, said Lt. Col. Daniel Goldthorpe, a native of Dodgeville, Wisc., and the brigade deputy commanding officer.
“It was great to bounce ideas off them – another set of eyes, a different perspective,” Goldthorpe said. “It allows us to put our combat experience back into the CTC so Soldiers can learn from it.”

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