NAVAL STATION NORFOLK, VA. --
From 24 January – 04 February 2011, Tactical Training Group Atlantic (TACTRAGRULANT) hosted a two-week long Warfare Commanders’ Conference for the BATAAN Amphibious Ready Group (BATARG), Amphibious Squadron SIX (PHIBRON 6) and 22d Marine Expeditionary Unit (22 MEU). The Warfare Commanders’ Conference is the first integrated training that ARG/MEU staffs attend during the Navy’s Fleet Response Training Plan (FRTP) workup cycle and the third integrated training during the MEU’s Pre-deployment Training Program (PTP). Prior MEU PTP training events were the Rapid Response Planning Process (R2P2) Primer and ARG/MEU Workshop.
The mission of the Warfare Commander’s Conference is to provide the ARG and MEU staffs, Warfare Commanders, and other key decision makers and planners with classroom instruction, tactical discussions, practical exercises and wargaming relevant to a Composite Warfare Commander (CWC) organization with emphasis in Air Defense (AD), Surface Warfare Commander/Anti-Submarine Commander (SUWC / ASWC) – Sea Combat Commander (SCC), Information Warfare Commander (IWC), and Strike Warfare Commander (STWC) areas. It is a seminar-type forum to discuss planning issues, examine coordination requirements, plan for tactical defense in Naval, Joint and Coalition operations and examine the results of planning through practical exercising. Additionally, the conference facilitates discussion of current doctrine, best fleet practices, operational orders (OPORDERs), and preplanning responses. Furthermore, it enables training in the planning and execution process including platform capabilities/limitations, supporting organizations, environmental, and Command and Control (C2) and Tactical Decision Aids. The training is focused on the ARG/MEU Commanders and senior staff officers, Operations/Combat Information Center (OPS/CIC) Officers, Warfare Commanders and embarked staff watch officers augmenting the PHIBRON during deployment.
During the Warfare Commanders’ Conference, ARG/MEU staffs attend a series of lectures taught by TACTRAGRULANT instructors, and receive a real-time FIFTH Fleet (C5F) brief via VTC from the Fleet Staff outlining what the ARG/MEU will be expected to execute when they arrive in the AOR. The lectures and C5F brief encompass every composite warfare commander function through the entire spectrum of military operations that an ARG/MEU may encounter on deployment. After receiving the requisite training, the ARG/MEU and CSG staffs are given a simulated set of exercise orders from The Maritime Forces Commander, told to develop tactical plans to execute those orders, and are then required to brief the tactical plan to the ARG/MEU and CSG commanders. The ARG/MEU and CSG commanders weigh in on the proposed plans and revise them as necessary to come up with an approved concept of operations (CONOPS) plan. TACTRAGRULANT’s game directors then take the approved CONOPS plan and build two synthetic wargame exercises to evaluate the ARG/MEU and CSG staffs’ execution of the plan in simulated warfare modules at TACTRAGRULANT. The wargame exercises are designed to flex the ARG/MEU and CSG staffs in the basics of command and control during CONOPS execution, and also allow the commanders to revise standard operating procedures (SOPs) based on the lessons learned, and serve as a prelude to subsequent synthetic and real-world pre-deployment training during the FRTP.
Colonel Eric J. Steidl, 22 MEU Commander, described the value of the Warfare Commander’s Conference as “the MEU’s turn for professional military education. If you understand how the Navy thinks, you can work together better, which makes the deployment easier.” Col. Steidl went on to explain “the most important thing [about WCC] is just building a relationship. It’s an opportunity for understanding capabilities and limitations, dispelling any myths, and asking questions of our counterparts that you couldn’t do normally.”
BATARG / 22d MEU will be back at TACTRAGRULANT this March for follow-on Group Commander training and a four-day synthetic training exercise known as Fleet Synthetic Training – Group Commander (FST-GC). FST exercises are very similar to the Warfare Commanders’ Conference wargames, but with significant increases in both duration and complexity. The FST event is actually played out onboard the ARG ships while pierside in Norfolk, VA. During FST exercises, TACTRGRULANT utilizes the Navy Continuous Training Environment (NCTE) to inject synthetic training data into participating ships’ combat systems, which allows the ARG/MEU and CSG staffs to more effectively simulate the command and control of their forces from their actual watch stations onboard their respective ships and places them in a fictional geographic maritime setting off the Atlantic Coast.