Academic journal article Military Review

Harmony in Battle: Training the Brigade Combat Team for Combined Arms Maneuver

Academic journal article Military Review

Harmony in Battle: Training the Brigade Combat Team for Combined Arms Maneuver

Article excerpt

IN JULY 1941, Gen. George S. Patton Jr. addressed the soldiers of his 2nd Armored Division and advised them that "to get harmony in battle, each weapon must support the other. Team play wins." This fundamental concept is substantially easier to talk about than to carry off on the ground under pressure. The team play that Patton refers to must be drilled well on the practice field. On the battlefield, there is no opportunity to stop and then retrain to standard. You will be only as effective in combat as you have trained to that point.

Ordering and integrating all weapons platforms to "support the other" at the decisive point was no doubt a challenge for Patton on the battlefields of North Africa and Europe. Doing so on a modern battlefield will be an even greater challenge. Advancements in technology and modernization of platforms have added layers of complexity that render a grasp of battlefield geometry elusive to young leaders who do not prepare for it. One constant in warfighting at the tactical level is that team play still wins. Training our junior leaders to play like a team with these weapons platforms will always be an essential component of any brigade combat team's (BCT's) training progression.

We suggest that the development of a logical BCT training progression includes three crucial components:

* Time set aside for senior brigade leaders to consider their long-range training path as a group.

* A dedicated block on the training calendar that gives the BCT commander an opportunity to see every company commander in action.

* Zealous application of a commonly overlooked training step-retraining to standard.

This article offers one approach to a BCT's training progression and the logic behind it.

Company-level combat readiness requires a well-defined training progression where our officers and noncommissioned officers are repeatedly exposed and trained to employ modern weapon systems. Not unlike any professional athlete, the professional soldier must receive repetitive training on the fundamentals before transitioning to more complex schemes. Our teams must first learn the science of employing fires platforms and then develop the more complex art of synchronizing those fires with maneuver. Brigade combat team leaders should be comfortable with employing all available fires and integrating all available platforms under pressure. If we expect our leaders to confidently control and employ indirect and direct fires in combat then we must routinely construct stressful training scenarios that develop this critical warfighting skill at home station.

For more than 12 years, we have fought a different kind of war in Iraq and Afghanistan, one that demanded extraordinary maturity and insight into the human dimension of conflict. As a military, we now find ourselves asked to prepare for a very different threat. The more conventional threats associated with high-intensity combat have now joined the more familiar asymmetric threats associated with counterinsurgency operations. What we face now is a hybrid threat environment. Our challenge is to prepare ourselves for decisive action while sustaining the skills hard earned from a dozen years of war. The fundamentals of training that were such a clear focus through the 1990s are now unknown skills for those below the sergeant major and battalion commander levels.

It is no longer a given that young company commanders and first sergeants have the practical experience to train and prepare for high-intensity conflict. As a result, the more seasoned senior leaders within BCTs have to teach them how to train and prepare. Cycles have developed in many corners of the Army where collective training events are of questionable quality--the emphasis is often on simply just getting soldiers through the training. Developing the individual skills crucial to collective training proficiency is too often a missing building block in our training progression. …

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