Academic journal article Military Review

The CTC Program: Leading the March into the Future

Academic journal article Military Review

The CTC Program: Leading the March into the Future

Article excerpt

The Combat Training Centers (CTCs) provide realistic, doctrinally based, joint and combined arms training that approximates actual combat.

The CTCs serve a dual role in ... generating unit readiness while serving as a crucible experience for leader development. (1)

THE ARMY'S COMBAT Training Centers (CTCs) continue to serve as the premier leader development and collective training venues in the world. The CTCs provide a complex, challenging operational environment, highly capable opposing forces (OPFOR), professional Observer-Coach-Trainers (OCTs) who are doctrinal experts, and world class instrumentation to capture cause-and-effect data. Training at the CTCs is the next closest thing to actual combat operations. Brigade Combat Teams (BCT) participate in force-on-force and live-fire training at one of the three maneuver CTCs: the Joint Readiness Training Center (JRTC), National Training Center (NTC), or Joint Multinational Readiness Center (JMRC). Corps, Division, and Functional/Multifunctional Brigade Headquarters conduct simulation-supported Warfighter Exercises (WFX) with the Mission Command Training Program (MCTP). Regardless of the venue, the CTC experience provides the capstone event to home station training, providing feedback to commanders on how well they trained their units and leaders and what they need to do to improve readiness in future training at home station.

Established in the 1980s, the CTCs changed the way we train units and develop leaders and significantly improved Army readiness for operations. Leaders attributed their units' performance in Operation Desert Storm to the rigorous training provided by the CTCs. More recently, the CTCs proved their value by quickly adapting training to readiness requirements for Operations Enduring Freedom (OEF) and Iraqi Freedom (OIF)/New Dawn (OND), transitioning from a pre-9/11 sole focus on major combat operations to training units and leaders deploying to counterinsurgency operations in training environments accurately reflecting the complex and challenging nature of the theater. The CTCs are dynamic training resources for commanders. They rapidly adapt the training environment to reflect the operational environment and ensure the "practice is tougher than the game."

Army in Transition

With the conclusion of combat operations in Iraq, and the initiation of the drawdown in Afghanistan, the Army is now focusing on preparing our formations and soldiers for future operations. To support this transition, the CTCs are transforming the way we train. Since the CTC Program has always served as an engine of change for the Army, the CTCs are adapting to support commanders as they train units to conduct Decisive Action against hybrid threats as part of Unified Land Operations. Decisive Action is the simultaneous conduct of offensive, defensive, and stability tasks (or defense support to civil authorities on the domestic side). Hybrid threats are diverse and dynamic combinations of regular and irregular forces, terrorists, and criminal elements working to achieve mutually beneficial objectives and effects.

The purpose of this article is to describe the CTC Program's efforts to enable this transformation and to inform soldiers on what they can expect when they train at our CTCs. There are five critical lines of effort in this transformation:

* Rebalancing leader development with unit readiness.

* Maintaining Special Operations Force--Conventional Force (SOF-CF) interdependence.

* Reestablishing an expeditionary mindset in the Army.

* Adjusting the CTCs to adapt to Army force structure changes.

* Ensuring the training Operational Environment (OE) replicates the necessary complexity and dynamic nature to challenge units for future operational requirements.

Leader Development

The CTCs have long been the Army's premier venue for developing adaptive leaders with the intellectual agility to respond to volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous conditions on the modern battlefield. …

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