Commando Warrior Pacific Training Center, Guam-- Soldiers from 1-294th Infantry Regiment, Guam Army National Guard are known to have friendly, island style attitude. Come next year, these Soldiers will have a change in attitude serving as the opposing forces (OPFOR) in support of U.S. Army Pacific's upcoming exercise Lightning Forge.
More than 20 junior officers and non-commissioned officers underwent improvised explosive device (IED) training; not to counter the deadly devices, but to understand how the enemy uses them against allied forces. This train-the-trainer course took place on the Guam, Oct. 22-24, 2014.
"I've never had OPFOR training before," said Sgt. McMillan Kitalong, Scout Platoon, Headquarters Company, 1-294 IN. "My IED training has mostly been how to look, detect, and stay away, but now I know how to make and place them."
Leaders who completed training will go back to their respective units and train their own Soldiers on this capability as they prepare for OPFOR duties in support of exercise Lightning Forge.
According to USARPAC training documents Lightning Forge is the second phase of the Joint Pacific Multinational Readiness Capability (JPMRC), an exportable live-virtual training construct, resulting in improved home station and exportable training experiences to assigned units, joint and multinational partners.
The IED subject matter expertise was provided by a three man mobile training team from the Asia Pacific Counter IED Fusion Center at Fort Shafter, Hawaii. The APCFC is the executive agent for all counter-IED training and intelligence for U.S. Pacific Command.
Terry Perez, the training lead for the Guam event said students received instruction on IED awareness, mounted and dismounted operations, how to construct inert IEDs, and emplacing them during a field training exercise, similar to what will take place during Lightning Forge.
"To be able to emplace the IED effectively based on the situation and terrain will afford the best training possible for units rotating thru the JPMRC Initial Operating Capability. As the OPFOR, these Soldiers have a huge role in the overall success," said Perez.
Under the hot and humid conditions of Guam's oppressive climate, these citizen-Soldiers put their new found knowledge to the test. Instructor Perez said the students were taught to "reverse" what they have traditionally learned about IEDs, instead think and act how the enemy would.
"We get to be the bad guys" said Staff Sgt. Clarence Elicio, a squad leader with Company A, 1-294 IN. "Based on our previous training, I was able to predict what the blue forces were going to do. That's a good thing because when we're the good guys, we'll know to change things up," said Elicio.
Elements of the 3-25 Brigade Combat Team from Schofield Barracks, Hawaii augmented by a combined task force, will undergo the field evaluations during Lightning Forge on Oahu and the Big Island's Pohakuloa Training Area (PTA). That's where the Guam Soldiers come into play.
"We have a mission to do, help train the 25ID," said 1st Lt. Napu Manglona, scout platoon leader, headquarters company. "As OPFOR, we're not going to lie down, we're going to be the best at IED emplacement, and that can only help our brothers on the active side be better prepared."
The Guam Soldiers are no strangers to IEDs. The regiment lost two of its own during a 9-month deployment in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. The 2013 deployment was the largest in Guam history.
"When we deployed to Afghanistan, we did everything with a smile and a can do attitude," said platoon leader Manglona. "In whatever we do, we in the Guam National Guard do it with pride. I know we're going to continue that and complete this mission with the professionalism and pride this unit is known for."