Col. Daniel Pinnell, commander of the 5th Brigade, 1st Armored Division, Army Evaluation Task Force, left, explains to a group of visitors what they are about to see at C-Station, where his unit will conduct a raid using equipment they are testing and evaluating as part of the Army Brigade Modernization Program. Photo by Annie Gammell, FFID Public Affairs.
Future Force Integration Directorate Public Affairs
Military liaisons, legislative assistants and government specialists from the Secretary of the Army’s office visited with Soldiers of the 5th Brigade, 1st Armored Division, Army Evaluation Task Force, in their field locations at White Sands Missile Range, N.M. and Fort Bliss Aug. 11. Also with the group was Lt. Gen. William N. Phillips, the principal military deputy to the assistant secretary of the Army (Acquisition Logistics and Technology). The AETF was conducting a company situational training exercise from Aug. 3 through 14.
Members of the group included Legislative Assistants Chris Griffin (representing Sen. Joseph Lieberman, I-Conn.), Amanda Clausen, (representing Sen. Mark Begich, D-Aka.), Julie Zelnick (representing Congressman Vic Snyder, D-Ark.), Legislative Fellow Desiree Seaward (representing Lieberman), Assistant Secretary of the Army for Acquisition, Logistics and Technology Special assistant Gabriel Camarillo and Secretary of the Army, Office of the Chief of Legislative Liaison Programs Division, Hardware Branch Chief Antonio Baines.
The purpose of the visit was to give the visitors status updates on Capability Package 11-12 capabilities, an understanding of the area of operations for FY10 test and evaluation events and to allow them to observe the AETF Company STX.
1st Lt. Eric Muirhead, leader of 1st Plt., A Co., 1st CAB, 1st Armored Div., AETF, performs a “call to prayer” at Mountain Village, White Sands Missile Range, N.M. Photo by Annie Gammell, FFID Public Affairs.
The first stop for the group of visitors was Mountain Village, where they were briefed by 1st Lt. Eric Muirhead from 1st Platoon, A Company, 1st Combined Arms Battalion. Muirhead was dressed in the traditional clothing of the local Afghan villagers his unit of opposing force soldiers were representing. He explained how his soldiers were trained at the National Training Center in California to inject realism into the scenarios the AETF Soldiers use for training. The scenarios, he added, incorporated new equipment that AETF Soldiers are testing and evaluating as part of the Army Brigade Modernization program.
As the group walked through the simulated Afghan village, Muirhead pointed out debris scattered about, calling it “battlefield clutter,” something typically found in Afghanistan.
“This village is divided into districts, like a real one would be,” said Muirhead.
The scene included a simulated mosque, a market and even a cantina. As he touched large, screened, brown structures on the sides of roads, Muirhead explained, “Esco barriers like these are used in a Forward Operating Base, just like those we use in Afghanistan. Our goal here is realism. We are testing the equipment in as real an environment as possible.”
To further illustrate this point, he told the group of visitors his unit has prayer five times a day, and he demonstrated a “call to prayer.” After completing his loud, melodious call, he explained many of his Soldiers who have recently returned from combat missions in Afghanistan and Iraq have told him they get flashbacks when they hear the sounds, proof the training is meeting its goal of realism.
Along the tour, Muirhead pointed out areas that provided good hiding places for IEDs. He also demonstrated how the vest he was wearing contained sensors that could indicate during the running of a scenario if he had been hit by an OPFOR round and rendered a casualty. Even the simulated Artillery rounds, he noted, “whiz by and explode, and casualties can be declared.”
Military liaisons, legislative assistants and government specialists from the Secretary of the Army’s office visited with Soldiers of the 5th Brigade, 1st Armored Division, AETF, in their field locations at White Sands Missile Range, N.M. and Fort Bliss, Aug. 11. Photo by Wesley Elliott, FFID Public Affairs.
Muirhead’s knowledge of his mission favorably impressed the visitors. It was obvious he is proud of the work his Soldiers have done for three weeks in building the village, which they continue to improve. “Village improvement is constant and resembles reality,” concluded Muirhead.
The group’s next stop was at “C-Station,” where 5-1 Armored Div., AETF, Commander Col. Daniel Pinnell greeted them before leading them to a rooftop to observe a scenario being played out in the fields around them and the sky above. They also observed the AETF employing new systems in CP 11-12, scheduled as the first to be fielded, while executing a raid on an urban objective. Pinnell provided a detailed overview of AETF operations and a close-up of a raid operation employing unattended ground sensors, an unmanned aerial vehicle flying overhead, two small unmanned ground vehicles and a network integration kit against insurgents.
At the conclusion of the scenario, the Soldiers of the 2nd Combined Arms Battalion who conducted the raid set up a display and demonstration of the systems and were available for discussion with the visitors.
The visitors stated they found the visit very informative, and it increased their understanding of the systems, application, test relevancy and overall capabilities. They also said they now have a better understanding of the network and information they see in the media about performance and reliability.