Source: US CentCom.
21 Sept 07
By Spc. Robert H. Baumgartner
82nd Sustainment Brigade.
CAMP ADDER, Iraq — Whether pioneering coalition air drops or providing critical support to major offensives like Operation Marne Torch, the 82nd Sustainment Brigade paratroopers’ logistical contribution to the security of Iraq has been considerable.
Arguably one of the most far-reaching and longest-lasting contributions has been the brigade’s commitment to “growing the future” by implementing realistic, reactive training programs through the creation of the Black Scorpion Combat Logistics Patrol Academy.
The program is designed to keep soldiers’ existing skills sharp, teach them new skills based on the most current information available and train them to handle situations they may encounter on the road.
Since January 2007, more than 1,000 soldiers have completed the training, which includes casualty extraction and treatment, improvised explosive device detection and escalation of force procedures.
Army Capt. Robert Walls, 82nd operations officer in charge, said the goal is to give combat escort teams the ability to evolve as the insurgency evolves.
“The insurgency is adapting to our tactics at a rate that is inconsistent with our deployments,” Walls said. “The enemy has had four years to study us. We only have one rotation to get a step ahead of him.”
This lag in tactical knowledge creates a deficit that can increase soldier’s susceptibility. The academy program creates a bridge to give soldiers the edge they need to be successful in a rapidly changing asymmetric environment.
“A lot of what we teach can be practiced in the unit motor pool, the squad leader or convoy commander can run them through the scenarios,” said Army Sgt. 1st Class Chris Patterson, commandant of the academy. “But we allow a more in-depth range of possible scenarios. We can provide all the resources needed to conduct the training and make it a little more realistic.”
One scenario designed to improve real-time decision-making requires students to drive vehicles down a road at convoy speed to be confronted by an instructor driving a white pickup truck.
Soldiers are then expected to exercise escalation of force procedures, flexible to each unique situation. Sometimes the instructors comply with the soldier’s overtures. Sometimes they do not.
“We try to drive home the point that their efforts to stop a vehicle may not be as effective as they think they are,” Patterson said. “Each of the students gets a chance to sit with us in the pickup truck while their buddies go through the EOF procedures so they can get an idea of what it looks like. It gives them a better understanding of how to effectively communicate their intentions when time is so limited.”
Photo – Army Spc. Octavio Garza pulls security while his fellow soldiers treat a mock casualty at the 82nd Sustainment Brigade’s Black Scorpion Combat Logistics Patrol Academy on Camp Adder, Iraq. U.S. Army photo by Spc. Robert H. Baumgartner.