Mobile and lethalBy 2012, Army planners envision a Schofield Barracks fighting force that can be almost anywhere in the world within 96 hours.
The Army works to convert training
sites to prepare Schofield
forces for new duties
AT YOUR SERVICE
FOR YOUR BENEFIT
By Gregg K. Kakesako
The force would be able to sustain itself with firepower, intelligence gathering capabilities and logistical support to handle everything from peacekeeping operations to war.
To meet that challenge, the 25th Infantry Division (Light) is planning to spend $1 billion over the next decade to develop a statewide network of training facilities to prepare "one of its brigades to deploy from multiple airfields on to a remote area, transition immediately to combat and fight dispersed in complex and urban terrain," said Maj. Gen. James Dubik, its commander.
It would give the United States a military option that doesn't exist today. It would be mobile as a light infantry force, but as lethal as a heavy tank armor unit, says Dubik, who holds two master's degrees and has completed Harvard University's executive program for national and international security.
During a future training scenario 25th Division soldiers, belonging to what is now known as the Interim Brigade Combat Team and their eight-wheeled light armored vehicles, would take off from Wahiawa's Wheeler Army Airfield in C-130 Hercules and Hickam Air Force Base in C-17 Globemasters cargo planes bound for Bradshaw Army Field at the Big Island's Pohakuloa Training Area. Once the armored combat vehicles and soldiers of the 2nd Brigade are unloaded at Bradshaw, they would move into new multipurpose ranges at PTA for battalion-level operations, which would be supported by artillery, helicopters and Air Force close air support fighters.
Other elements of the 2nd Brigade, especially its new reconnaissance squadron, would be deployed to PTA and the Kahuku Training Area on the North Shore to provide the brigade commander with intelligence data gathered by unmanned aerial vehicles, satellite and other electronic warfare assets, including radar and ground sensors.
The network of training facilities the Army envisions for tomorrow's Army under the current transformation philosophy, Dubik said, would include expanding the Kahuku training facility and rearranging the firing and training ranges at Schofield Barracks to include live fire ranges to accommodate company-size units and the construction of several virtual reality warehouse sites.
Nearly $1 billion will be spent if Congress continues to supports the Army's proposed transformation plan that began 10 years ago. Before coming here Dubik was stationed at Fort Lewis in Washington, overseeing the creation of these interim brigades. One of the 25th Division's three brigades located at Fort Lewis was part of the prototype program Dubik managed.
For Oahu and the Kahuku training complexes, Dubik said this would mean building three urban assault facilities where soldiers could practice close-in-quarters fighting tactics on mock-ups of a military compound, industrial complex and a residential area. There currently is only one urban terrain assault facility here -- a series of two-story hollow tile buildings at Schofield dressed up to look like a European village.With some of the firing ranges moved to Kahuku, Schofield Barracks would be rearranged to accommodate company-level assault courses, such as the one now in use at Makua Valley.
"All the soldiers will have laser designators. All soldiers will have night vision goggles. All the soldiers will have individual radios so they can talk to each other. That means I, as their squad leader, can point to a target and all of the soldiers can shoot at it. We can practice all this stuff indoors and do it many more times than we could do it out in the field, where in one eight-hour period we could only do it twice."
Maj. Gen. James Dubik
Commander of the 25th Infantry Division (Light)
In anticipation of the changes contemplated for Schofield Barracks, Sen. Daniel Inouye says discussions are currently under way with Campbell Estate to acquire additional the training areas at Kahuku, which it owns.
Dubik said one of the keys to the success of this unit is preparing the soldiers before putting them on the actual firing ranges by using virtual reality training sites, large warehouses with computer-controlled simulators to replicate different environments, conditions and even experiences.
Dubik explained that one such operation is the "virtual fighting training facility."
"In this one building you would have the ability to train indoors during the day on night fighting. You could take fire teams of four people and practice engaging at night with your night vision goggles indoors."
The idea, Dubik said, is to develop precision teamwork, starting with the individual soldier and working up to the entire brigade.
"All the soldiers will have laser designators," Dubik added. "All soldiers will have night vision goggles. All the soldiers will have individual radios so they can talk to each other. That means I, as their squad leader, can point to a target and all of the soldiers can shoot at it. We can practice all this stuff indoors and do it many more times than we could do it out in the field, where in one eight-hour period we could only do it twice."
Dubik said there will be other virtual reality training devices similar to ones now used to train tank crews. The drivers and crews for the interim armored vehicles would be trained on these simulators on how to drive across all terrain and under all types of conditions, including night, smoke and gas.
"It's not a substitute to going into the field, but having this training when you go into the field, you will start at medium level instead of the lowest."
Other training facilities, all using computers, will help Schofield mechanics troubleshoot their vehicles since they will be linked to the Army's major transportation facilities on the mainland. Other training facilities will use computers and web pages to conduct classes here.
Besides Schofield Barracks, similar facilities are envisioned for Washington, Louisiana, Alaska and Pennsylvania.
"What we are trying to do is create a force," Dubik added, "that can fight full spectrum combat. Full spectrum combat recognizes the world comes in many varieties ... What we have to create is a force that can fight anywhere along that spectrum."