By Maj. Richard Barker | 2nd Infantry Brigade Combat Team Public Affairs Office, 4th Infantry Division
FORT POLK, La. — More than 250 leaders and staff from 2nd Infantry Brigade Combat Team “Warhorse,” 4th Infantry Division, attended a leadership training program (LTP) recently at Fort Polk, Louisiana, where they learned to coordinate as teams through the military decision-making process (MDMP) in order to produce a brigade combat operations order, a document that provides guidance to subordinate units on how to conduct a mission.
With the help of LTP coaches, all retired military with previous experience in key brigade leadership positions, the brigade produced a 700-page order that coordinates the movement and maneuver of more than 4,500 Soldiers and 3,000 pieces of equipment across multiple days in a simulated attack against an ever-changing enemy on an area about the size of Rhode Island.
In order to successfully produce and complete the order, leaders went through steps which included a combined arms rehearsal where lead planners demonstrated their section’s involvement in relation to the rest of the team.
“Most brigade staffs are formed, developed and dispersed within a three-year time period,” said Bo Balcavage, the brigade operations coach for the LTP. “As a result, what LTP does is accelerate the brigade’s understanding and execution of MDMP during the forming stage of the staff.”
Primary brigade staff officers and senior NCOs along with battalion command teams attended the training. The training program allowed leaders who are new to the brigade to conduct planning in their respective roles.
As the fire support officer for 2nd IBCT, Maj. Jaime Sanjuan found the LTP helpful. Sanjuan is responsible for planning and coordinating all forms of indirect fire support for maneuver operations and advising the commander on how to effectively use fire support assets assigned to them.
“This training provided an opportunity to take what I recently learned in school and apply it in a real unit with the other staff I will be working with for the next few years,” said Sanjuan, who arrived to the brigade in early July 2019. “LTP provides us an opportunity to train in an environment free of daily distractions. I feel the uninterrupted environment was beneficial and allowed us to focus on learning the processes.”
The training is an initial step for the brigade, which is a part of a series of combat training exercises that will culminate with the brigade returning to Fort Polk to train at the Joint Readiness Training Center in November.
“The exercise placed a lot of stress on the staff, which helped us grow mentally through focused coaching and realize the larger picture of the planning process,” said Sanjuan. “Overcoming the stressful environment here as a staff (member) made me realize the importance of time during planning. After this training, I feel our (team) is more effective and conscious of time while synchronizing efforts and integrating resources.”
The demonstration takes place inside a large sandbox or sand table, which is a giant, meticulously-crafted map that represents the location of the operation.
“The Warhorse Brigade has impressed us as a learning organization,” said Balcavage. “We witnessed the staff take advantage of the tools and resources we provided, which … is a sign of a professional unit.”
With new planning skills in hand, the brigade is looking ahead to their field training exercises planned at Fort Carson in upcoming months.