WASHINGTON, DC (Maj Nichole Downs) — Over the past 15 years, the Department of Defense has fought a war against terrorism around the globe. In this fight, conventional and special operations forces have found it necessary to rely on one another’s capabilities. This interdependence created a need to train and educate on how to integrate special operations forces with conventional forces.
The Mission Command Training Program helped achieve this goal through executing its first-of-a-kind warfighter, incorporating conventional forces and special operations forces training audiences.
Warfighter 16-4 simultaneously took place at Fort Bragg, N.C., and Fort Riley Kan., April 6-15.
During the exercise, XVIII Airborne Corps, a primary training audience, executed two mission sets as a combined joint task force and as a combined joint land forces component command. Of equal importance, 19th Special Forces Group (Airborne) from the Utah Army National Guard was incorporated as a combined joint special operations task force.
“This warfighter was extremely complex,” said Col. Edward T. Bohnemann, MCTP commander. “This warfighter is crucial to XVIII Airborne Corps and their Secretary of Defense global response force requirement — and having an actual CJSOTF benefits both our conventional and special forces to prepare for and fight and win in a complex operating environment.”
“One thing that will remain constant is the importance of relationships during operations,” said Col Glenn Thomas, chief of Operations Group Juliet, MCTP. “Warfighters provide conventional and special forces a venue to train together.”
At previous warfighters, Operations Group Juliet had the responsibility to replicate Special Forces and provide other operations groups’ subject matter experts. This assisted in the training and education on the roles special operations forces may play in supporting major combat operations.
“The participation by 19th Special Forces Group provided Juliet and MCTP an opportunity to build a foundation to improve how we train both special operations forces and conventional forces in unified land operations,” Thomas said.
“Integration of Special Forces is extremely important as we build on those lessons we have observed and learned over the last 15 years,” Bohnemann added.
Furthermore, the integration is also in line with the U.S. Army Special Operations Command commander’s intent, according to Sgt. Maj. Gary Barnes, operations sergeant major, 19th Special Forces Group.
Special operations and conventional forces integration, interoperability and interdependence is tremendously important for maximizing both forces’ capabilities.
“We wanted to work alongside a conventional forces headquarters to refine our staff process and compare our staff process — we got a lot of value out of this experience,” Barnes said, adding, “Across the 19th, all the noncommissioned officers had an opportunity to refresh and retrain on Army mission command systems and special operations forces mission command systems, which is something we had not done in quite some time.”
“We are very flexible, continually adapting our exercise to meet the needs of the Army … to build readiness and develop leaders for the complex operational environment that faces our country,” Bohnemann said.
Approximately 2,500 service members, contractors and DoD civilians supported the warfighter, which had eight training audiences.