JOLON, Calif. – There are various sayings and acronyms among the
members of the U.S. Army such as “if it's not raining we aren't
training,” “take a knee and drink water,” and “train as we fight.”
Train as we fight is typically the operative of the three and it is
a means of attaining the standard. Nevertheless, to train to
standard Soldiers need a method and that method is sometimes an
opposing force, or better known as OPFOR.
with the 422nd Military Police Company, 11th MP Brigade, 200th MP
Command, served as the insurgent force during a route-clearance and
medical training exercise at Fort Hunter Liggett, Calif., May 7,
The Soldiers who received suppression from the OPFOR
have two objectives within the mission; check the civilian
contractor's progress at a bridge and the bridge's serviceability
then secure a one-gallon sample of water from a well to test if it
is potable or not. All the while, making contact with insurgent
forces, or OPFOR.
May 6, 2016 - Spc. Robert Tolan, an Opposing Forces insurgent and
cavalry scout with the 422nd Military Police Company, 11th MP
Brigade, 200th MP Command, waits for the unit training before laying
down harassing fire and creating a difficult environment for the
training unit at Fort Hunter Liggett, CA. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Kimberly Browne)
According to Army Regulation 350-2, operational environment and
OPFOR in U.S. Army training is intended to provide commanders with a
realistic training environment within the operational training
field, against an uncompromising foe. It also states the use of
OPFOR in training events is intended to improve realistic training
by enabling operations against a non-cooperative, free-thinking, and
capability-based adversary or enemy.
“If the OPFOR is good
and they are going to put pressure on the friendlies, then that is
going to reinforce those good [Tactics, Techniques, and
Procedures],” said Capt. Andrew Gallagher, a native of Fresno,
Calif. and battle captain for the 91st Training Division. “It's kind
of like steel hardening other steel.”
This type of training
enables commanders and leadership to fully realize the consequences
of their decisions in ‘real-time' within the mission.
“Having an enemy that knows how we're going to react to contact ... is
going to put that much more pressure on them, but it's also going to
expose you if you're not doing the right thing,” Gallagher said.
The use of OPFOR during a training exercise creates a real-world
scenario for those Soldiers training and it is a means for measuring
their reaction and readiness.
“Our focus is to get them to
use Army tactics, engage us and take out the enemy before they start
taking care of the casualty and make sure they know how to eliminate
the enemy and react to fire,” said Sgt. 1st Class Steven Alvarez,
the noncommissioned officer-in-charge of OPFOR and with the 91st
Training Division. “Our unit is assisting in that by making the
training more realistic. Instead of going through stick lanes and
pretending that there is an enemy and yelling, bang bang.”
During their mission the OPFOR created casualties in the operational
environment and simulated a down helicopter.
May 6, 2016 - Sgt. 1st Class James Wardle (right) and Spc. Jacob
Duncan (laying left), both Opposing Forces casualties with the 570th
Sapper Company, 864th Engineer Battalion, 555th Engineer Brigade of
Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash., simulate casualties of a helicopter
crash during a route-clearance and medical training exercise at Fort
Hunter Liggett, CA. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Kimberly Browne)
“This is pretty much a [Medical Evacuation] lane, so
they're going to see how they react to treating a casualty
down at the chopper and how they do it while taking
contact,” said Spc. Eli Calderon, an OPFOR insurgent and
combat engineer with the 422nd MP Co., and native of
Nevertheless, the Soldiers
participating in the lanes are not the only ones receiving
training and training to standard, the OPFOR is as well.
“This training helps the OPFOR's readiness by
when they engage they are using their squad tasks and moving
as a unit to engage their target,” Alvarez said.
Soldiers chosen as insurgents get to see things from a
different perspective while conducting the mission.
“It gives the Soldiers an opportunity to look at it from the
other side and knowing that when it is your turn you know
what to do,” said Sgt. 1st Class James Wardle, an OPFOR
casualty and combat engineer with the 570th Sapper Company,
864th Engineer Battalion, 555th Engineer Brigade of Joint
Base Lewis-McChord, Wash.
Eventually, upon completion
of Sergeant's Time Training and the ins-and-outs of training
to standard, participating in a mission where OPFOR is
involved gives way to the combination of all training
tactics and a finality, or a polishing, to training to
“Just seeing how everything has that
symbiotic relationship, where you can't do one without the
other and you're going to experience each of those
throughout the battle,” Gallagher said. “It's good to the
see the evolution the units go through.”
the OPFOR Soldiers created the casualties by harassing their
opposition with M16 semi-automatic rifle fire and artillery
simulators creating a realistic threat.Therefore, conjuring
the stress and anxiety in each Soldier as a real-world
situation would. Thus, giving the unit a standard to attain
and a means to see their strengths and weaknesses.
By U.S. Army Sgt. Kimberly Browne
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