FORT POLK, La. – As paratroopers conducted an airborne insertion
into a simulated foreign country, Special Forces soldiers prepared
to meet them on the drop zone as the consulate personnel awaited for
a formal introduction.
The Decisive Action Training Exercise,
known as DATE, set the stage for participating units at the Joint
Readiness Training Center. This exercise was designed for
paratroopers, special operation forces, and government officials to
operate interdependently throughout the scenario which was set in an
austere country known as “Atropia.”
Interdependence Achieved... Col. Michael R. Fenzel, commander for 3rd Brigade Combat Team,
82nd Airborne Division and Lt. Col. Joseph Lock, commander for 4th
Battalion, 5th Special Forces Group, greet one another prior to a
meeting during a Joint Readiness Training Center on August 26, 2013.
(U.S. Army photo by Maj. Loren Bymer)
The 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division, plus
its attachments worked with 5th Special Forces Group
(Airborne) to complete this training rotation. Since
Operation Enduring Freedom began, special operation and
conventional forces have found themselves solving problems
and fighting together at an increasing rate.
rotation allowed Special Operation Forces and Conventional
Forces to codify and sustain the lessons we collectively
have learned over the past 12 years of war. Chief amongst
them is our collective need to rely on one another during
combat in order to maximize each other's strengths and
mitigate our weaknesses,” said Col. John W. Brennan,
commander of the 5th Special Forces Group (Airborne).
Prior to this JRTC training exercise, the brigade and
group commanders met and discussed how operators and
paratroopers would rely on each other. Thus building a
trusting relationship between the commanders that would
endure throughout the exercise and between Special Forces
and Conventional soldiers after the rotation.
the modern battlefield our paratroopers will be working
directly with unconventional forces,” said Col. Michael R.
Fenzel, Commander of 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne
Division. “Any success we enjoyed during our Decisive Action
rotation at JRTC was impacted by the commitment to our
relationship with 4th Battalion, 5th Special Forces Group.”
With the declining number of personnel in the Army,
the concept of interdependence is dire for future success.
Leaders need to comprehend that the amount of tasks required
of them will not change, but the amount of resources they
have to accomplish them will potentially be less. Building
relationships with a host of units will be necessary.
Understanding how to interlock, depend and reciprocate
actions for the success of all will become a normal
“The fact is that we will
undoubtedly work together very closely again on future
battlefields, and the new reality of operating in a
fiscally-constrained environment which has made
interdependence more critical to mission success,” Brennan
The understanding of the each unit's mission
and how they contributed to the overall result was crucial
throughout the exercise. Paratroopers operated in a
conventional fashion while unconventional warfare was
executed by Special Forces which solved problems. Each
contributed to the overall success of the exercise.
“While we were preparing for offensive and defensive
operations on one side of a zone of separation, they [SOF]
were conducting shaping operations. Although the end state
we were working toward may have had different time horizons,
the objectives were in every case interdependent,” said
Fenzel. “It just stands to reason that all our operations
should be interdependent as well.”
was achieved in Atropia due to the hard work and dedication
of relationship building. This was focused on by everyone
before, during and after operations. This success lies in
the understanding of the commanders, staffs, and soldiers on
the ground in how problems can be solved together.
“As a force, we must continuously learn, anticipate and
evolve in order to defeat an enemy that poses asymmetric
threats to the US and its allies. This exercise exemplified
that goal and has provided an invaluable experience for all
involved,” Brennan added.
By U.S. Army Maj. Loren Bymer
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