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The Army has published a new training document to help units prepare for engagements, missions and exercises in Africa.
Regionally Aligned Forces Training Environment-Africa is designed to be used within the Army’s new Decisive Action Training Environment, and is the first of what could be targeted training manuals for each geographic combatant command.
“We walk a line between being regionally engaged but globally responsive,” said Gary Phillips, director of the Training and Doctrine Command Intelligence Support Activity, or TRISA. “You want to make sure units are trained to go wherever a crisis might be, but at the same time stay connected with a region. The combination of DATE and RAFTE allows us to capitalize on both of that.”
RAFTE-Africa was published June 5 and will be available on the Army Training Network, as well as at the combat training centers and each home station, Phillips said.
A similar program for the Asia-Pacific region is in the works, and Phillips said he expects it will be completed in three to four months.
As part of its transition out of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the Army is aligning its forces with each of the Defense Department’s geographic combatant commands.
Several large units have been aligned as part of this effort, including 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division, with Africa Command. The brigade was the first unit to be identified as part of the regionally aligned forces effort.
The 1st Cavalry Division also is aligned with AFRICOM.
In addition, I Corps and the 25th Infantry Division are aligned with Pacific Command; III Corps and the 1st Armored Division are aligned with Central Command; 1st BCT, 1st Cavalry Division, is aligned with European Command; and the National Guard’s 48th BCT is aligned with Southern Command.
These units are to conduct various engagements and missions, from theater security cooperation and military-to-military engagements, to exercises and humanitarian aid missions.
They also must be prepared for contingencies around the world, where DATE comes into play.
DATE, which also was developed by TRISA, is a notional operational environment that consists of five fictional countries named Ariana, Minaria, Atropia, Donovia and Gorgas. It is designed to help the Army conduct more comprehensive training to meet a hybrid threat that could span guerrilla, insurgent, criminal and conventional forces all in one environment.
The program provides units with information on each fictitious country’s political, military, economic, social, infrastructure and physical environments, and how they relate or interact with one another. And while the nations in DATE are fictional, the information is based on real-world threats and intelligence analysis.
DATE can be tailored to meet each unit’s training objectives, and it gives commanders a foundation upon which to build their training exercises, whether they’re at home station or one of the combat training centers, and eventually in the Army’s schoolhouses.
With the addition of RAFTE-Africa, commanders can add Africa-specific information and conditions when they run DATE-based training exercises.
“You can use it to build an Africa-centric training event,” Phillips said.
For example, a regional condition unique to Africa is nomadic populations that are not restricted by recognized national borders, he said. RAFTE-Africa outlines this challenge, describes how tensions could erupt and walks commanders through how to apply that scenario to a training event.
TRISA has been working on RAFTE-Africa since October, and it sought input from intelligence experts, U.S. Army Africa and academic experts.
“It was a pretty extensive effort,” Phillips said. “It’s not something you take on lightly.”
The resulting RAFTE-Africa is flexible, scalable and adaptable for each unit’s needs, and can be used for squad-level events all the way up to a corps-level exercise, Phillips said.
The manual also is easy to use, he said.
“It’s like a cookbook,” he said. “It’s logically laid out.”
TRISA is now working on RAFTE for the Pacific, but there are no plans yet to develop similar programs for the other geographic combatant commands, Phillips said.
“When we did Africa, it was intended to be a proof of principle, to determine if trainers wanted it or would use it,” he said. “We’re getting some very positive feedback … but we’re still in the learning process. We’re doing this one step at a time.”
TRISA plans to continually update RAFTE-Africa and DATE.
“When we find or see something happening out in the world, we find ways to integrate that,” Phillips said. “We want to ensure we maintain a connection to stuff that is happening or is about to happen rather than make stuff up. If a soldier can see a relationship to something real, he’s more engaged with the training.”