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Usareur demonstrates ... a new way to train.

EARLY 1,000 Soldiers from U.S. Army, Europe's, 18th Engineer Brigade and 7th Army Training Command, and National Guard Soldiers from Illinois, recently joined some 200 Bulgarian troops to strengthen interoperability between the two nations' armies.

The occasion was exercise Bulwark 2004, conducted at Bulgaria's Novo Selo Training Area, a former Soviet training site located four-and-a-half hours from the nation's capital, Sofia.

Bulwark '04 combined new technologies that revolutionize Soldiers' abilities to learn from simulated combat, with the expertise of 7th ATC training teams from Hohenfels and Grafenwohr, Germany.

The exercise was geared toward helping leaders prepare their units for potential deployment, including deploying maneuver-training-area personnel and equipment to a foreign country, exercise officials said.

LTC Mark Jackson, commander of the Illinois National Guard's 2nd Battalion, 130th Infantry Regiment, said: "This training has been different from other training, in that our unit's Headquarters and HQs. Company was able to focus on the major portions of the exercise, rather than the support functions.

"We're training our Soldiers in a number of different squad- and platoon-level tasks," said COL John Sterling, one of the exercise directors.

Sterling said that deploying headquarters personnel to Bulgaria helped to train Soldiers in expeditionary techniques, including arriving at a new location, establishing the basics for sustained operations, and then training a force before moving it on to accomplish a mission.

Before the end of the Cold War, "many of the Army units based in Europe for more than a half-century were placed where we thought we would have the 'big fight,'" Sterling said.

Now Army officials know that wherever Soldiers are stationed--that includes forward-deployed forces in Europe--they're going to have to move to the mission. "This exercise allows us to practice that," Sterling said.

Through exercise scenarios, participating units practiced convoy operations, forced-entry techniques and medical evacuation.

"There is a five-day progression of scenarios, from team level up to entire platoons working with outside assets," said MAJ Mark Dotson of the Combat Maneuver Training Center in Hohenfels.

Observer-controllers, including SFC William Benda, look for junior-leader initiative, so if a leader is killed in combat the junior Soldier can caw out the commander's orders, Benda said.

Observer-controllers try to induce as much stress in these Soldiers as they can, Benda said, to help prepare them for the real-life stress they'll be faced with in Iraq and Afghanistan.

CPT Shawn Morelli of the 18th Engr. Bde. decided to let her Soldiers have a taste of leadership under stress by temporarily relinquishing her leadership role to play one of the Soldiers in a convoy scenario.

"Convoy operations are critical; we do them every day downrange, and different things can happen," she said. "My Soldiers need to know how to recognize various types of potential attacks and how to react to different situations."

SFC Stewart McGlockling directed 130th Inf. Soldiers to simulate a rocket-propelled grenade attack on the convoy, to create some instructive chaos.

The attack went as planned and left Morelli on the ground, "mortally wounded."

"This training is different, and hard, but that's what it's supposed to be," said PFC Leilani Silo. "I wish they did this in basic training."

"This was the first training event for the 18th Engr. Bde.," Morelli said of the convoy scenario, "and I was proud of how they reacted. They kept going, even when they were tired. Everyone learned the importance of communication and teamwork."

In an after-action review the Soldiers were able to see how well they did, courtesy of the latest in technology, the Deployable Instrumentation System--Europe.

DISE resembles a video game, but in the deadly serious business of training Soldiers for combat. It identifies the location of each individual Soldier, vehicle and weapon on the battlefield, and tracks Soldiers' real-time movements and actions with weapons.

Additionally, the system identifies types and locations of wounds, and monitors treatments and the lack of treatments. At the same time, it renders the Soldier's weapon inoperative if his wounds would prevent him from using his weapon.

Each Soldier can be tracked individually in the computer replay, which reveals his status and position, plus the number of shots he's fired.

Besides lauding the benefits of the scenario-driven exercise and DISE, Sterling said Bulwark '04 gave Soldiers the opportunity to foster a closer relationship with the Bulgarian army and Bulgaria's ministry of defense.

Arthur McQueen works in the U.S. Army, Europe, Public Affairs Office in Heidelberg, Germany.
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Title Annotation:military training
Author:McQueen, Arthur
Publication:Soldiers Magazine
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Dec 1, 2004
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