A soldier from the 9th Prince Muhammad Battalion pulls security as his platoon leader meets with the key leaders of a simulated village while soldiers from the 1st Battalion, 94th Field Artillery, from Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash., supervise and grade their performance during a training exercise at the Joint Training Center, Jordan, May 11, 2012. (Photo by Sgt. Christopher Bigelow)
JOINT TRAINING CENTER, Jordan (May 17, 2012) — Rolling through a low valley and expecting contact, the convoy crawled over rocks too large and loose for the troops to move over.
The soldiers were trapped in the comfort of their vehicles. Maneuvering through a cloud of dust, their mine resistant ambush protected vehicles seemed to be screaming back at them as the armored trucks bounced off the surrounding boulders. Timidly sweeping left to right, gunners scanned the surrounding hillsides; the hills seemed to be growing taller and moving closer.
Between the dust and the shadows from the surrounding boulders, the sun had disappeared. The gunners sunk low into their turrets; the false security provided by the aggressive walls of metal that made up their mine resistant ambush protected vehicles seemed to be the only safe place left.
The convoy ground to a halt. There was too much smoke to see through.
Pop, pop, pop!
It’s happening: ambush!
Gunners jerk their weapons in the direction of the enemy and unleash hell as two of the convoy’s vehicles break formation and take the fight to their attackers, providing their brothers in arms with valuable time to tend the wounded and escape.
But everyone was okay. After all, it was just a training exercise.
From first contact, the two-minute ambush provided everything the observer/controller-trainers with the 1st Battalion, 94th Field Artillery, from Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash., needed to see.
Their students, service members from the 9th Prince Muhammad Battalion of the Jordanian armed forces, were learning.
The 1/94th’s mission at the Joint Training Center here is to provide the Jordanian armed forces service members, Task Force 222G, with pre-deployment training.
“We are trying to set the Jordanians up for success later on,” said 1st Lt. Brian Bierwirth, an O/C-T with the 1/94th.
The JAF soldiers’ training began in January; according to Bierwirth, the 1/94th FA is trying to give the JAF an overview of the things they may see while deployed to a combat environment.
The JTC training is broken into five phases designed to reinforce JAF soldiers’ basic soldier skills and combat readiness.
The first training phase is integration. In this phase, JAF commissioned and non-commissioned officers are given courses on basic military leadership. The courses are taught in a format similar to that of the U.S. Army’s Warrior Leader Course. The course is designed to reinforce and enhance the skills that JAF leaders already have.
In the second phase, basic soldier skills are reinforced.
“Phase 2 focuses on basic soldier skills,” said Lt. Col. Erin A. McDaniel, chief of the military assistance liaison office at the U.S. embassy in Amman. “Soldiers train with their individual weapons, as well as crew-served weapons; they are also given a combat lifesaver course.”
McDaniel said the third phase of the training combines the first two, and results in basic platoon level training.
“JAF platoons execute platoon-level tasks, from detainee to cordon and search operations,” said McDaniel.
The fourth phase brings all the skills learned in the first three together, and lessons learned are reinforced.
“Soldiers practice their tasks over and over and over again to prepare themselves for the mission readiness exercise,” McDaniel said.
In the final phase of their training, JAF soldiers take part in a 10-day mission readiness exercise.
According to McDaniel, Phase 5 is important because it brings the JAF’s battalion-level staff into mission planning and orders execution.
Bierwirth said the O/C-Ts work with the Jordanian company and battalion staffs, teaching those intelligence-gathering operations and procedures.
“That way, their higher-level command can turn that into useful information later on for future patrols,” he said.
Task Force 222G completed its training May 12.
“The Jordanians have improved since we first began our training block in January,” Bierwirth said. “They have advanced now to the point where I feel they will be able to integrate with United States and other joint coalition forces in future operations,” Bierwirth said.