HOHENFELS, Germany, April 28, 2017 — Multinational exercise Combined Resolve 8 brought trainers from the Joint Multinational Readiness Center here to support soldiers from the 4th Infantry Division’s 3rd Armored Brigade Combat Team during a combined-arms live-fire exercise in Grafenwoehr, Germany, April 18-24.
The first day’s focus was a fire-support coordination exercise for brigade operations, said Army Maj. Christopher Blaha, operations observer-coach-trainer, or OCT, from JMRC’s Timberwolves maneuver team and lead planner for the live-fire exercise. The second day, he added, was a cumulative exercise and combined-arms live-fire for two battalions: cavalry and armored.
To facilitate this phase, a combination of OCTs from JMRC’s eight training teams, with overall command and control from the Timberwolves team, broke away from their traditional role at Hohenfels Training Area to develop the training force overseeing the brigade-level operation.
“Our responsibilities as OCTs is to ensure safety, provide training assistance and provide candid feedback on how to improve as a mechanized formation,” said Army Capt. Andre Aleong, also of the Timberwolves. Exposure to a training event of this magnitude improves the OCTs’ mentoring skills, he added.
On the Range
Army Sgt. 1st Class Ndifrek Aanam-Ndu, a Timberwolves OCT, maneuvered his Humvee behind four Bradley fighting vehicles bounding into position on range Battle Position 2. He coaches Bravo Company, 1st Battalion, 66th Armored Regiment as they exercise a passage of lines with Comanche Troop, 4th Squadron, 10th Cavalry Regiment.
“The first part of this exercise is clearing a minefield, then executing a breach to meet the 4-10 Cav for a relief in place,” Aanam-Ndu said, pointing downrange.
The range looked like a series of rain-soaked bowling alleys under siege. Overhead, Apache helicopter teams kept watch on the battle under direction from the platoons of fighting vehicles and troop carriers on the ground.
Aanam-Ndu touched a button on an artillery fire simulator and hears the delayed booming in the distance. He watched how the teams reacted, then wrote in his notebook.
The Bradley teams performed a series of back-and-forth movements in battle position — first shooting, then ducking behind position, then rapidly maneuvering to an alternative left or right stand. Their engines blared like jets when they leaned in.
“Not too many units get to exercise passing over the battle space,” Aanam-Ndu said. “The strategy is almost a lost art. It’s a lot of moving parts this unit is fortunate to have the opportunity [to experience].”
The four Bradley fighting vehicles moved forward into position again. Drivers and gunners peered out through the fog of battle and inclement weather, spotted the next position and made a plan.
“As OCTs, our attention is focused on the unit’s readiness,” Aanam-Ndu said. “Our focus is challenging soldiers.”
As he dismounted, Aanam-Ndu approached a vehicle commander and simulated a casualty in the battle scenario. The vehicle’s gunner slumped over and feigned unconsciousness. He observed the team’s every move in assessing the casualty, using their combat lifesaving, field care and casualty evacuation training. He documented everything, taking great care in delivering detailed advice.
“The after-action reviews we provide will help them through the next phases of CBR 8,” he said. “Ultimately, they will maneuver better and be ready for any real-world challenge or conflict.”
Combined Resolve 8 will continue at the Hohenfels Training Area until mid-June. It’s a multinational exercise designed to train Army’s regionally allocated forces to the U.S. European Command. It will include more than 3,400 participants from 10 nations, working to prepare forces in Europe to operate together to promote stability and security in the region.