a CSS Live-Fire
Exercise in Korea
Major Leon G. Plummer and Captain Eric A. McCoy
a live-fire exercise (LFX) may seem routine for most conventional
combat and combat support
units, but for combat service support (CSS) units, such an
exercise can be challenging. LFXs are not emphasized in
CSS units as much
as they are in other units of functional branches. The fateful
experiences of U.S. troops such as the 507th Maintenance
Company in Iraq have generated a new emphasis on the importance
live-fire training for CSS units.
The ability to react to enemy contact and engage weapon systems
in response to convoy attacks and ambushes is essential to
the overall success of any operation. Logistics plays a vital
role in the combined arms fight, so it is imperative that
CSS units be trained to survive on the battlefield and continue
to provide supplies and services to the front lines.
The environment can play an important role in a unit’s ability to survive
on the battlefield, and Korea offers a realistic and challenging training environment.
The 2d Forward Support Battalion (FSB), which supports the 2d Brigade Combat
Team at Camp Hovey, Korea, is responsible for leading logistics units in LFXs
in the 2d Infantry Division Support Command (DISCOM). With the ongoing political
dialogue and threat of conflict with North Korea, it is imperative that the battalion
live up to the division’s motto: “Ready to Fight Tonight.” The
of events leading up to and through a successful LFX conducted
by the 2d FSB is presented as an example that may help in equipping
other CSS units to survive on the battlefield.
|Soldiers call for fire while
engaging the enemy during live-fire training.
In his fourth quarter fiscal year 2002 training guidance, the 2d
FSB commander directed the battalion to conduct a squad-level defensive
LFX in conjunction
with a battalion field training exercise. After a thorough mission analysis,
the battalion executive officer and S–3 developed a precertification checklist
and training plan for the battalion’s subordinate companies. Precertification
tasks were developed following the Infantry Company’s mission training
plan and the mission-essential task list (METL) directive to “Conduct a
platoon defense.” Subject-matter
experts from the 2d Brigade Combat Team also provided guidance during the development
of the training plan.
As a lead-in to the squad defensive LFX, training was conducted during weekly
sergeants’ time training and as part of company- and platoon-level situational
training exercises. This training focused on troop-leading procedures, precombat
checks and inspections, weapons familiarization, and fire-control and -distribution
methods. Preliminary training also was conducted in the Camp Hovey Engagement
Skills Center to give squad leaders and their teams confidence in engaging targets
and controlling fires.
Resourcing the LFX was our first problem. The Standards in Training Commission
(STRAC) typically does not allocate a significant amount of ammunition for CSS
units to conduct training other than basic weapons qualification at category
II levels (group headquarters, headquarters and headquarters company, and battalion-support
units). (STRAC was established in 1982 by the Vice Chief of Staff of the Army
to determine the quantities and types of munitions essential for soldiers, crews,
and units to attain and sustain weapon proficiency.)
We worked around this constraint by reallocating the unused division ammunition
that was available after the year-end closeout.
Our second challenge was finding a range facility suitable for conducting an
LFX. The Korean Training Center (KTC), also known as Rodriguez Range, is the
only U.S. multipurpose range complex on the Korean peninsula. As such, the KTC
is occupied, or in a “hot” status, more than 300 days of the year.
Priority for use goes to armor, mechanized infantry, and cavalry units. As a
result, it is hard to find time to conduct CSS defensive training. However, through
coordination, we found that two of the KTC’s larger range facilities were
available between gunnery cycles—the Infantry Squad Battle Course for blank-fire
operations and Cherokee Valley for live-fire operations.
Our LFX training was conducted in three phases: crawl, walk, and run.
Crawl. The crawl phase, which was really the precertification
phase, took place during July, August, and September 2003. During that time,
squad and platoon
training focused on the METL directive to “Defend assigned area.” Battalion
training events also were incorporated in a division artillery external evaluation,
a mechanized infantry battalion gunnery, and a company field training exercise.
The battalion staff’s military decisionmaking process conducted during
this time set optimum conditions for the LFX. The conclusion of the crawl phase
was a movement rehearsal and an LFX concept brief to the DISCOM commander and
the assistant division commander for support.
Walk. The walk, or execution, phase of the LFX began
with the deployment of the battalion from Camp Hovey and the establishment of
a brigade support area (BSA)
at the KTC. Once the BSA was established, the battalion S–3, in conjunction
with the battalion commander, executive officer, and range officer in charge,
conducted a tactical exercise without troops (TEWT) with the company commanders,
first sergeants, platoon leaders, and platoon sergeants. The purpose of the 2-day
TEWT was to familiarize all leaders with the concept of training, the LFX scenario,
and range safety procedures. During the TEWT, the 2d FSB command sergeant major
also conducted a hands-on noncommissioned officer (NCO) development program on
how to establish a squad defensive perimeter. The purpose of the program was
to refresh fieldcraft skills such as constructing individual and crew-served
fighting positions to standard, establishing communications, and developing a
sector sketch. The walk
phase concluded with blank- and live-fire iterations with squad observer-controllers
(platoon leaders and platoon sergeants) and the battalion quick-reaction force
to validate the LFX course.
|Once the defensive perimeter is established and
the squad is in position, the squad leader calls in an occupation
Run. The run phase began with validation of the units for
live fire. Each squad was tested over a 2-day period. The squads were staggered
so four iterations
of blank and live fires could be conducted each day. The blank and live fires
were preceded by dry-fire rehearsals that were conducted in the BSA by the squad
leaders and validated by the company commander. The squad leaders rehearsed receiving
the warning order or fragmentary order, conducting precombat checks and inspections,
moving to a new area of operations, establishing a defensive perimeter, and reacting
to enemy threats to the squads or platoons.
Once certified by the company commander, each squad trained on troop-leading
procedures and prepared for the next day’s deployment to the blank- and
live-fire ranges. At 0600 the next morning, the squad leader deployed with his
squad from the BSA to the blank-fire site. There, the range safety officer briefed
the squad on range safety and the squad leader trained the troops on tactical
dismounted movement to the tactical assembly area (TAA).
At the TAA, the squad rehearsed actions on the objectives and their battle drills
and moved to the ready line, where construction and barrier materials were preconfigured
in order to establish a defensive perimeter quickly. When the defensive perimeter
was established, the squad was issued blank ammunition, and the platoon leader
reported an inbound enemy threat to the squad leader by radio.
The squad then began its defense against an attack, which was simulated by pop-up
targets. The senior observer-controller programmed the target scenario to escalate
or deescalate the attack based on how well the squad reacted to the enemy threat.
For blank fires, each squad was outfitted with Multiple Integrated Laser Engagement
System transmitters. The targets had laser target interface device “thumpers” that
signaled enemy hits, which enhanced the soldiers’ confidence with their
assigned weapons. The pop-up targets also were equipped with smoke and artillery
simulators that randomly detonated to replicate battlefield effects.
After all of the ammunition was expended, the proper situational awareness reports
were sent to higher headquarters, the scenario changed to an enemy withdrawal,
and a cease-fire was ordered. The squads cleared their weapons, safety checks
and reports were completed, and the squad leaders and the battalion commander
conducted an after-action review. The soldiers then moved on to the live-fire
site, Cherokee Valley.
At Cherokee Valley, the soldiers again received a range safety briefing and began
live-fire rehearsals. Then each squad leader certified to the battalion commander
that his squad was prepared to conduct live-fire operations. The battalion and
company commanders signed the certification checklist and risk assessment authorizing
the squad to conduct live fires.
Once the squad established its defensive perimeter and was in position, the squad
leader called in an occupation report and the observer-controllers issued live
ammunition to each squad leader for distribution to his squad. The squad leader
received an imminent threat warning order and, when directed by the
observer-controller, ordered his squad to lock and load ammunition. The target
scenario began with detonation of grenade and artillery simulators and activation
of the pop-up targets. Based on squad reactions and fire control, the scenario
can be adjusted to replicate small-unit-, squad-, or platoon-level threats.
When the units met their training objectives or all of their ammunition was gone,
weapons were cleared, a cease-fire was called, and, as in the blank-fire training,
the squad leaders met with the battalion commander for an after-action review
and the squad redeployed to the BSA.
A total of 16 squads from our supply, maintenance, and medical companies conducted
LFXs to standard over a 5-day period. Squads left the weapons range more confident
in their weapon systems and combat capabilities and with the following lessons
for follow-on squads—
• Identify needed resources early. Plan LFX events 12 to 18 months in advance
to make sure that ammunition and ranges for training are resourced. To be successful,
platoon-level LFX scenarios (convoy, react to contact, and military operations
on urban terrain) often require large, multiecheloned training areas, various
quantities of ammunition, and training aids.
• Involve NCOs and subject-matter experts. Their experience is critical
in the planning and risk-mitigation phase of live-fire training. Units in the
United States often have convoy and CSS LFX training lanes set up on post. The
experience of the NCOs with these lanes is essential in Korea, where lane scenarios
are often built from scratch.
• Make training realistic and battle focused. Every aspect of the training
must be tactically oriented and focused on daily CSS missions. Incorporate other
training, such as mounted land navigation, communications training, and convoy
procedures, into the scenario whenever possible.
The enemy threat in Korea, as well as in other contingency theaters around the
world, requires that CSS elements, such as LOGPACs (logistics packages), ammunition
exchange points, and maintenance collection points, be able to defend themselves
in either mobile or static scenarios. We can no longer assume that we will have
combat arms or military police assets for force protection. Every soldier must
be a rifleman by necessity.
Live-fire training for the CSS community emphasizes this mentality and complements
the warrior ethos, which is the driving force for training in the 2d Infantry
Division. The training model outlined above probably can be modified in many
ways, but here’s the bottom line: Warfighters depend on logisticians for
fuel, arms, and supplies. Logisticians must be able to defend against and defeat
the enemy in order to support the warfighters. ALOG
Major Leon G. Plummer is the Executive Officer of the 2d Forward Support
Battalion, 2d Infantry Division Support Command, at Camp Hovey, Korea. He has
degree in political science from Florida A&M University and a master’s
degree in administration from Central Michigan University. he is a graduate of
the Army Command and General Staff College, the Combined Logistics Officers Advanced
Course, and the Combined Arms and Services Staff School.
Captain Eric A. McCoy is the Commander of E Company, 702d Main Support Battalion,
at Camp Casey, Korea. When this article was written, he was the Battalion S–3
of the 2d Forward Support Battalion. He has a bachelor’s degree in mental
health from Morgan State University and a master’s degree in administration
from Central Michigan University. He is a graduate of the Combined Logistics
Captains Career Course.