Each rotation lasts about 30 days and the NTC trains 4,000-to-6,000 warfighters from brigade combat teams each rotation. The NTC handles ten rotations each year, or about 50,000 warfighters annually.
One training day at the NTC is equivalent to one week in a real-world mission in theater because of the intense nature of the experience.
Each rotation follows a basic methodology Raytheon supports:
- Leader Training Program (eight days): (conducted 90-180 days prior to the unit arriving at the NTC)
- Focused on staff and leadership integration
- Campaign plan design
- Provincial Reconstruction Teams basic course
- Reception, Staging, Onward Movement and Integration (5 days):
- Force generation and unit task organization
- Negotiation training and media interviews
- Joint effects training
- Establishing digital networks
- Integrated Base Defense System of Systems with Counter-rocket, Artillery, Mortar
- Army Center of Excellence counter-improvised explosive device training
- Situational Training Exercise (5 days)
- Small unit collective training focuses on warrior tasks and battle drills – live fire training, medical trauma, personnel recovery and route clearance
- Full Spectrum Operation (9 days)
- Full spectrum contemporary operating environment with a fully engaged civilian population, media, insurgent and criminal elements, and enabler integration encompassing both lethal and non-lethal operations
Emphasis is placed on the creation of a world-class insurgency, which is role-played by the home unit, the 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment, and counter-sniper and counter-insurgency operations. The Army, with Raytheon’s help, replicates provincial governments and training cooperation with Iraqi Security Forces and the Afghanistan National Army, who are Raytheon teammates playing the roles. Raytheon also provides instructors for the Army Center of Excellence, which provides counter-improvised explosive device training.
The Army develops the training doctrine and augments it with lessons learned from the theater. Those lessons can be incorporated, with the Raytheon team’s support, into a training exercise in almost real-time. For example, all it takes is for the customer to call the NTC operations group and a lesson learned on the battlefield can be incorporated into a training rotation in a matter of hours or days.
Raytheon also has the flexibility to completely overhaul a training rotation. For example, a unit that recently trained at NTC had been scheduled to deploy to Iraq and learned it would instead deploy to Afghanistan. Normally, Raytheon plans for rotations 180 days out. The team was able to react to the change in 30 days.
All of the higher-level plans and orders had to be rewritten to reflect Afghanistan (town names, regional references) and the format of the orders had to comply with those produced by the gaining command that the unit would fall under. For the rotation affected by the venue change, the gaining higher command was allied so this mandated a joint/combined format rather than a straight U.S. format.
Next, the “atmospherics” had to be changed. Towns in the maneuver area had to reflect Afghan names, stores, markets, roads, cultural sites, flags, posters and graffiti rather than Iraqi to give the visual impression and “feel” of Afghanistan. Maps the unit used in the maneuver area had to be reprinted to reflect this updated data and all graphics that the higher headquarters provides to the unit had to be synchronized and accurate.
Lastly, the roles players, themes, and missions had to be modified to reflect cultural norms and the required tasks in the country that are replicated. Role players replicating Afghanistan are different from those used for Iraq. An example would be the importance of the Central Intelligence Agency and the U.S. Department of Agriculture in Afghanistan. Drugs and agriculture reform are huge issues in Afghanistan and are relatively unimportant in Iraq. The same is true of missions that the unit will be required to perform in Afghanistan. The United States spends a tremendous effort in training Immigration and Naturalization officials and security police in Iraq. In Afghanistan, the military is more in the front of operations and there is less dependence at this point in putting the Afghan forces out front.
The scope and level of change was limited and had the decision to change the focus been made farther out, changes to the rotation would have been more comprehensive.