Training

Land Combatant Continuum

By Combined Arms Training Centre November 18, 2020


Combined arms is not achieved when we group in the assembly area. The combined arms effect is achieved in the target area through the synchronisation of single arm effects generated by the individual arms of the combined arms team; creating an environment where responding to one arm of our combined arms team makes the enemy vulnerable to one or more other arms of our combined arms team.

Combined arms is fundamental to the way Army conceptualises fighting at the tactical level of war. Despite this, the land combatant training continuum has historically lacked a combined arms focus, with training being delivered in single arm stove pipes to achieve platform and resource efficiencies. As a result, junior combat leaders responsible for imposing a combined arms effect on the enemy have a limited understanding of combined arms tactics, techniques and procedures and are not able to visualise combined arms tactical actions. Therefore, they are unlikely to successfully impose a combined arms effect on the enemy during land combat.

Combined Arms Training Centre’s (CATC) purpose is to generate combined arms competent combatants who are capable of achieving success in the Joint Land Battle. The legacy land combatant training continuum is single arms centric, delivering training in isolated stove pipes. This is further compounded by the inconsistent exposure to combined arms during key appointments in Combat Bdes due to Army’s current Force Generation (FORGEN) model. Furthermore live fire training events are not conducted in all combat arms Regimental Officer Basic Courses (ROBCs), learning outcomes are duplicated in the combat arms individual training continuum, and delivering single arms training in stove pipes is heavily reliant on Training Support Requests (TSR). Noting these issues, CATC is rapidly evolving the elements of the land combat training continuum to a system that is coordinated to meet at appropriate points of synergy[1], providing formative combined arms experiences to better prepare combat leaders for the workplace, being the operational environment.

CATC has leveraged combined arms points of synergy within the land combatant training continuum, providing the training audience with a common set of formative combined arms training experiences delivered in an echeloned training environment. The resultant activities mean that learning events and fusion between courses and schools is no longer determined by rank, trade or corps, but via groupings defined by echelon of command exercised/supported and context, with the priority for 2020 being the training of combat leaders who command, control, orchestrate and synchronise the combined arms effect.

The Land Combatant Continuum sees the School of Armour (SoArmd), in collaboration with the School of Artillery (SoArty), deliver two combined arms training events based around the culminating activity of the Mechanised Regimental Officers Course (MROC).
  • The School of Armour conducts two culminating activities as part of the RAAC ROBC and the RAINF/RAE MROC. Exercise GAUNTLET STRIKE and IRON WARRIOR are two crucible activities that build off each other and are designed to physically and mentally challenge junior officers while operating in a combat team environment under combat simulated conditions. Set in the Decisive Action Training Environment (DATE) scenario in the Puckapunyal Training Area, Exercise GAUNTLET STRIKE occurs as part of the RAAC ROBC and first MROC course of the year. Tank and Cavalry officer trainees work with and in support of Mechanised officer trainees over the course of two weeks under blank and live fire conditions. They employ Offensive Support (OS), and mounted and dismounted Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) capabilities to fight and win on the battlefield.
  • The exercise is set in a Combat Team environment, enabled by a Battlefield Management System (BMS) network and supported by realistic Combat Team logistics elements. Throughout the exercise, trainees are exposed to a broad range of capabilities trained by CATC, including working closely with Joint Fires Teams (JFTs) from the SoArty to build effective fires plans to support offensive mounted manoeuvre. During blank fire assessment, a realistic and freethinking enemy party forces Troops (TP) and Platoons (PL) to work together, building interoperability at the unit of action. At the conclusion of live fire assessments, a combined arms team attack occurs under live fire conditions. This attack demonstrates the capability and importance of a combined arms manoeuvre utilising ISR assets, OS, and tank and mech cooperation.
  • Exercise IRON WARRIOR occurs in the second half of the year, focusing primarily on the second MROC course. Once again, trainees find themselves back in the DATE, this time expanding on the tactical gains made during the final combat team activity of Exercise GAUNTLET STRIKE earlier in the year. Two Armoured Personnel Carrier (APC) Platoons and a Tank Troop (filled by SUB4 Tank Commanders Course Trainees and TAC Wing Staff) conduct both blank and live fire combat team activities, incorporating OS. Similar to Exercise GAUNTLET STRIKE, trainees fight against a free thinking near peer threat during the blank fire portion of training before transitioning to platoon live fires. Throughout both phases, trainees plan for and utilise OS and are paired with tanks from the Sub 4 for CPL Crew Commanders Course.
  • JFTs from the SoArty assist in building a combined arms team for the execution of the activities. However, from 2021, trainees from the JFT Commands Course and the SUB4 BDR JFT course will integrate and achieve a symbiotic [2]combined arms experience as part of the shared culminating activity. This is an excellent and mutually beneficial combined arms learning experience, with both the JFTs and the Manoeuvre officer getting an understanding of where they link in, plan and coordinate.
  • A growth path is also under development to integrate a mobility and survivability effect into the training environment leveraged off the RAE ROBC.
  • Throughout both of these activities, the combat team headquarters builds an enemy situation and the commander provides orders on the move from the Squadron Command Post via Combat Team radio orders or BMS. This exposure provides trainees with an understanding of operating on an all informed net, interacting with an Officer Commanding (OC) in a tactical setting and builds an awareness of how the respective Platoon and Troop operations are nested with the higher commander’s intent. These activities, Exercise GAUNTLET STRIKE and IRON WARRIOR, focus on providing young officers with exposure to a combined arms team fight and operating within the construct of a Combat Team Headquarters, while simultaneously achieving formative and summative assessments at the TP/PL level. Through the task organisation of Tank Troops, Combat Reconnaissance Vehicle (CRV) Troops and Mechanised Platoons, trainees gain critical experience of working together before arriving at their respective units.
  • The end state of these two exercises results in junior officers arriving at their gaining unit qualified as TP LDR/PL COMD and with a solid foundation in combined arms warfighting. They are comfortable making decisions in ambiguous environments, developing courses of action and prepared to fight and win in a near peer environment.

The School of Military Engineering (SME) will seek further integration into the Land Combatant Continuum through increased focus on combat behaviours and providing increased exposure to combined arms within our suite of combat engineer courses. 

  • For Initial Employment Trainees, through the realisation of the new Combat Engineer Learning Management Plan (LMP), combat behaviours will be increased through the introduction of Army Combative Program Level 2 and the inclusion of Tier 2 dismounted enhanced combat shooting.  In support of this, the learning outcomes are increasingly being delivered through scenario-based training that incorporates combat behaviours. Additionally, further development of Light Urban Explosive Breaching capability and range safety, utilising the new Urban Breaching Range facility on Holsworthy Training Area, will allow future integration with the combat shooting continuum. The new LMP will see enhanced focus on Explosive Hazard Reduction and expanded Chemical Biological, Radiological, Nuclear Defence package. Key to this shift in focus and delivery, Combat Engineer Wing is being supported through the integration of RAINF instructors. The desired end state will be a more lethal Sapper, which is more connected and aligned to their combat arms partners. 
  • ROBC has undergone a review for execution in 2021, focussing on producing Engineering Officers with increased managerial and supervisory tools and has generated efficiencies to integrate troop level engineer serials within Exercise GAUNTLET STRIKE.  The opportunity for junior RAE Officers to gain contextualisation to the capability of the combat arms and offer mobility, counter-mobility and survivability serials within this activity will set a foundation for more enhanced training experiences upon reaching their unit. It will also provide the other combat arms with greater understanding of how RAE can support in a combined arms team. 

  • For Subject 4 Combat Engineer courses, desire is to vertically nest these courses to build greater engagement and learning experiences across the ranks, while also creating opportunity to fall in on existing and developing combined arms serials within CATC. This will see in the first semester of the year the Regimental Officer Basic Course and Subject 4 Corporal align some of their training together and then provide the opportunity to participate in Exercise GAUNTLET STRIKE. In the second half, having Subject 4 Sergeant and the second Subject 4 for Corporal will conduct a similar alignment and gain some exposure to Engineer MROC will ensure greater contextualisation for educating our combat engineers. 
  • With the introduction of new programs intending to deliver a number varying armoured engineer platforms, opportunity exists to develop increased understanding across ranks and the combined arms teams.  SME intends to align Subject 4 for Warrant Officer with at least one of the Warfighters within Mod 3 of the Combined Arms Officers Course. This will provide time with ‘future teams’ and offer greater insight into the tactical and logistical considerations within a combined arms environment. 
  • Finally, SME will undergo a change in organisational structure for 2021, leveraging PSC US Army Officer who has mechanised engineer and DATE experience.  Engineer Tactics Wing will be re-raised under his command, which will oversee and ensure that the tactic being delivered across the Combat Engineer continuum is aligned and also embedded into the broader Combined Arms continuum.  This Wing will oversee the delivery of all Combat Engineer subject courses as well as the ROBC.  This prioritisation will see an increased effort and focus on realising the efforts to be made from RAE individual training within the Land Combatant Continuum.
The SoArty delivers Exercise MAIDEN'S RAGE which leverages the Regimental Officers Gunnery Course (ROGC) and the Sub 4 for WO RAA Course.
  • Exercise MAIDEN'S RAGE is the culminating combined activity of the ROGC and Sub 4 for WO course. Officers and NCOs from all RAA streams (Offensive Support (OS), Surveillance and Target Acquisition (STA), and Air and Missile Defence (AMD)) execute a series of actions ranging from tactical to strategic, across a five day CPX, modelled after the US Army Divisional Warfighter exercises; nested in DATE. Whilst all trainees are Gunners, the CPX essentially brings three BOS’ (OS, ISR and Ground Based Air Defence (GBAD)) together in a combined arms activity designed to test Joint Fires and Effects Coordination Centre (JFECC) systems, force integration and enable cross-trade application. Customarily, the CPX is a 50-person constructive simulation activity enabled by digital systems (Advanced Field Artillery Tactical Data System (AFATDS), BMS, and FalconView); augmented by non-RAA personnel replicating commanders, key staff, and role players who provide planning injects, guidance, orders, and drive the exercise scenario via a Master Scenario Events List (MSEL). The exercise becomes Joint with the inclusion of RAAF Tactical Air Control Party (TACP) personnel (when available), to provide contextual air-land integration and synchronisation of effects, and/or the inclusion of a scaled and scoped Air Support Operations Centre (ASOC) for the trainees’ JFECC to operate with.
  • Throughout Exercise MAIDEN'S RAGE, trainees rotate through planning and operational roles in HQ nodes; principally Brigade (BDE) and Battle Group (BG) JFECC, as well as Regt CP, Brigade Air Land Integration Cell (BALIC), and individual RAA sub-units CPs (Gun, AMD and STA). Each node is part of a tactical HQ in a multi-national Division, that has been brought together in order to respond to a DATE scenario.
  • The exercise has been designed to provide exposure to Division and coalition level targeting, effects and fires apparatus; facilitating a learning experience in the various technical procedures and integration level skillsets required to operate in a large effects enterprise. The exercise is deliberate, and forces trainees to absorb product provided by DIV and Joint Agencies and subsequently produce a modest joint fires and effects plan that supports the combined arms team “customer” with all products expected of a BDE JFECC staff (from all three RAA streams). Additionally, through targeting directives, OPORDs/daily FRAGOs, ever-changing constraints/restraints, and the influence of Electronic Warfare attacks; trainees are forced to adapt to a changing environment within the BDE and BGs/Regimental Command Post (RCP), while still being focused on meeting Commander’s Intent and supporting manoeuvre objectives within the Combined Arms team. This is achieved by students conducting roughly 14 hours of Staff Military Appreciation Process (SMAP) and orders production for the next day’s operation, briefing and refining their plan to assessors and facilitators, and then executing their plan the following day with their fellow trainees in facilitator roles. This construct allows for groups to see real time results of their plans and adjust accordingly while still conducting operations driven by the CPX MSEL to achieve training objectives.
  • Exercise MAIDEN'S RAGE focuses on exposing Officers and NCOs to the combined arms team fight and operating within the construct of a tactual level headquarters; simultaneously, achieving formative and summative assessments that will prepare them for the technical, tactical and planning functions they will execute in their future roles. Large scale CPXs and training events customarily neglect the minutia and tactical actions required to develop, test and grow RAA personnel in their core functions; Exercise MAIDEN'S RAGE is built specifically to achieve this experiential learning opportunity, whilst also allowing trainees to gather knowledge of their brethren vicariously. Through the fusion of the trades, streams and ranks, trainees gain critical experience of working together before arriving at their respective units. Principally, Exercise MAIDEN'S RAGE is a multi-effects CPX where the CAPTs and SGTs of the RAA learn how to interface their trades and feed the combined arms effect at DIV, BDE and BG level from a tactical, technical and procedural perspective.
  • As a modular and scalable activity, Exercise MAIDEN'S RAGE was adapted to withstand current COVID-19 contingency execution. The CPX has been exported to Lavarack and Robertson Barracks with their respective ROGC instructors. Each course location will operate within the exercise scenario, using the CPX MSEL to stimulate and achieve assessment OBJs, while still exposing trainees to operating within multi-echelon JFECCs in support of manoeuvre elements. Thus, still confirming trainees are prepared for follow on staff assignments and fires execution, while exposing them to operating within the combined arms team construct.
  • The end state is trainees arriving at their gaining unit qualified and competent and with a solid foundation in the contribution of the RAA to combined arms warfighting. They are comfortable fulfilling their technical functions in HQs at any level, integrating with their non-RAA brethren, developing courses of action and prepared to fight and win in a near peer environment.
Combat Command Wing delivers two sessions of the Combat Officers Advanced Course (COAC) annually. The course culminates with a series of ‘Warfighter’ exercises delivered over the last two weeks of the course.
  • The Warfighter Series is the final validation and integration of combined arms in order to practice BG and BDE level planning and execution.

  • The Warfighter Series are executed as a two-week Simulated Planning Exercise (SIMEX). Consisting of the integration of COAC and the Logistic Officer’s Intermediate Course (LOIC), the concurrent planning and execution of integrated BDE and BG manoeuvre in a simulated high intensity conflict against a live and adaptive adversary.
  • Trainees fulfil positions as principal staff officers in BDE or BG HQs, and visiting instructors hold command positions (playing a genuine role of commanders, not merely affable role-players). Trainees are required to plan, communicate and execute BDE and BG operations within a compressed planning timeline against a simulated enemy. HQs are replicated via a combination of Virtual and Constructive simulation to provide the required injects and interaction. Army’s suite of digital command and control tools are used to ensure the skills and experience are transferable to the Combat BDEs and REGTs/BNs. The Warfighter Series is adapted to course numbers and Corps ratios; however, it is customarily a BDE construct with a DIV HQ and Log elements, commanding up to five BGs and 20 CTs, enabled by simulated DIV level fires and enablers.
  • As the culminating activity of the course, it is designed to provide learners attending the COAC with the environment and setting to mature and develop as tactical commanders and planners. The pressure of assessment and validation is removed, and creativity, audacity and boldness are not only expected, but incentivised.
  • Trainees are exposed to the tactical command functions, art and decision making at BDE, BG and CT level. This is achieved through an immersed environment that gifts a coached/mentored experience to the trainees, facilitated by Combat Command Wing instructors and Combat BDE COs, and led by the CATC Senior Mentor, MAJGEN Michael Krause. The Warfighter pulls together all aspects of the previous elements of the course and provide the trainees with a mostly free-play constructive battlespace to trial and experiment with tactical art.
  • 2021 will see Sub 2 for WO RAInf, Sub 2 for WO RAAC and Sub 4 for WO RAE integrated into the Warfighter series in a targeted method to provide combined arms exposure to the combined arms team’s next generation of Sergeant Majors.

These evolutions in CATC training are not necessarily new or revolutionary. Rather they are an advancement upon already existing mechanisms and training events, or alternatively a result of combining them. This clever sequencing of training events has resulted in a mostly resource neutral gain in effectiveness of train gain in experiential learning, combined arms exposure, a reduction in range usage and TSR. The fundamental gains of each of the training activities, beyond what has occurred prior, is the emphasis on experiential and vicarious learning, via exposure to individual contribution to the combined arms fight and also the cumulative impact of combined arms action. Proximity leads to relationships, trust and confidence in the combined arms team, and by clever sequencing and evolutions of training design, CATC has been able to generate a number of activities where the sum of the parts are greater then the individual activities of the years prior.

The intent is for similar advancements to be made across the entire Land Combatant Continuum, so as to build a deep seated and fundamental understanding of combined arms teaming. Once again, events are not determined by rank, trade or corps, but via actions and synchronisation at like echelons of command exercised. The revision of Army’s Land Combatant Training Continuum is vital to maintaining relevance in the contemporary environment. It will reduce tribalism and stove piped training; realising an Army in Motion. For CATC, protecting the status quo is not an option, it is no longer fit for purpose and fails to deliver the technical, tactical and cultural relationships required for contemporary combined arms. Pursuing true integration to achieve efficiencies and enhance combined arms proficiency will ensure we are Ready Now and Future Ready. The future battlefield will demand soldiers and junior leaders who do not just ‘get’ combined arms but live and breathe it; this must start during their formative training.

The Land Combatant Continuum provides the structure that will see the Combined Arms Training Centre realise training transformation in a coherent and coordinated manner; enhancing Army’s land capability now and into the future. Fundamental to this is enhancing the combined arms literacy of the land combatant, achieved through current resources but with clever synchronisation training events. This approach is seeing the training framework evolve from a stove piped delivery system, where bespoke training events are conducted to achieve a single learning outcome, to a system where combined arms synergies are leveraged to conduct echeloned training events where multiple learning outcomes are achieved for multiple segments of Army’s combined arms workforce.

Consolidated by LTCOL Benny Gray on behalf of Commandant CATC.

 

End Notes

[1]     Synergy. The interaction or cooperation of two or more organizations, substances, or other agents to produce a combined effect greater than the sum of their separate effects.

[2]     Symbiotic. A mutually beneficial relationship between different people or groups.

 

 


Portrait

Biography

Combined Arms Training Centre

CATC performs a vital function for Army by delivering key outcomes to the Australian Army, supporting both FORGEN and OPGEN through the execution of Directed Training Requirement (DTR) and Exported Training to FORCOMD and the wider ADF. CATC works closely with all other formations in Army, in particular the Combat Brigades, to ensure Army is postured to win the land battle. CATC training establishments include the School of Armour, School of Artillery, School of Infantry and School of Military Engineering.

 

The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the position of the Australian Army, the Department of Defence or the Australian Government.



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