Role players teach culture

| February 19, 2010 | 0 Comments

Story and Photos by
Staff Sgt. Bryanna Poulin
25th Infantry Division Public Affairs

National Guard unit trains with native Afghanistans  for deployment readiness

SCHOFIELD BARRACKS — Participating in a Mission Rehearsal Exercise, last week, with role players from the Defense Training System, Soldiers with the 230th Engineer Company (Vertical), Hawaii Army National Guard, got a firsthand look at the cultural and language barriers they could be facing during the unit’s upcoming deployment to Afghanistan.

Soldiers with the 230th Engineer Company, Hawaii Army National Guard, carry an Afghanistan role player with the Defense Training System during a Mission Rehearsal Exercise held at Schofield Barracks, Feb. 10. “We integrated DTS during the unit’s validation exercise, which we executed simultaneously at Schofield Barracks,” said Lt. Col. Edward Salaz, commander, Support Battalion, 196th Infantry Brigade. “Interaction between the role players and Soldiers ranged from meeting with a village elder, to interacting with vendors at a marketplace, to responding to injured villagers requiring medical assistance.”

“The role players enable us to create a certain level of stress and chaos that Soldiers will likely experience due to language and cultural barriers while deployed,” Salaz added.

DTS, a civilian contract company, provides role players in scenarios that reflect what Soldiers may see in Afghanistan, but unlike traditional training events, DTS provides an echelon of training scenarios that allow unit leaders to focus on the priority of training.

The 196th Inf. Bde. provides post-mobilization training to units preparing for deployment supporting overseas contingency operations.

The 230th Eng. Co. is mobilized in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.

The unit will provide general engineering and construction support throughout Regional Command East in Afghanistan.

A detachment from the Montana National Guard has integrated into the company for the post-mobilization training.

Additional Soldiers who have volunteered for deployment are from the Army Reserve’s 411th Engineer Battalion, 9th Mission Support Command, located at Fort Shafter Flats.

Soldiers from the Delaware National Guard are also with the unit.

DTS, a civilian contract company, provides role players in scenarios that reflect what Soldiers may see in Afghanistan. “Part of our challenge is not only developing training plans based on the latest and most current theater TTPs (tactics, techniques and procedures) and lessons learned, but also replicating the most realistic operational environment possible for deploying Soldiers,” said Salaz. “Unique to the pre-deployment training of the 230th Eng. Co. was the use of contracted role players, provided by DTS.”

Salaz said the role players, American citizens of Afghanistan descent, bring capability that completely changes the dynamic of supporting the unit’s full-spectrum operations training during their time at Schofield Barracks.

Salaz further explained that the uniqueness of the exercise is primarily based on the unit and role players working cohesively to run the exercise, and gives a comprehensive assessment to guide future training.

In addition to unified training between Soldiers and role players, DTS also exposed Soldiers to making quick decisions and reacting from muscle memory on the battlefield.

“Each scenario created was planned internally without the Soldiers knowing the timeline,” said Capt. Isaac Floyd, 29th Brigade Combat Team, who worked jointly with DTS.

“The intent of ‘chaos confusion’ will better prepare Soldiers to have a quick reaction time,” he said.

Spc. Laura Kula, an Individual Ready Reserve Soldier, escorts an Afghanistan role player with the Defense Training System, or DTS, during a Mission Rehearsal Exercise held Feb. 10 at Schofield Barracks. Floyd said the use of in-country role players allows Soldiers to overcome any obstacles like language barriers and cultural sensitivity they may face downrange.

For Spc. Michael Ecsedy, who was with the 230th Eng. Co. on his first deployment, interacting with role players gave him a better understanding of the cultural and language barrier between the groups.

Ecsedy said that going through the scenarios and communicating with the role players gives Soldiers better insight into what they’ll be facing.

“During the conduct of our hot-washes and formal AAR (after-action review), Soldiers of the 230th Eng. Co. constantly commented on the training realism provided by the DTS role players, how their expectations of training were exceeded, and how better prepared they believe they will be when interacting with the local populace in Afghanistan,” Salaz said.




Category: News

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *