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                 exposure in enemy territory, while the longer route has a decreased probability of being attacked,
but increases exposure. This allows Trainees to take direct control of a mission and apply their own situational awareness to make a decision. If Trainees elect the shorter route, they will suffer
a mass casualty. Trainees will have to react to the mass casualty scenario and work together as a
team to safely evacuate injured Trainees from the attack. It puts more stress on the entire platoon
as they are carrying resupply equipment and the downed pilots. This event is beneficial for Trainees as it allows them to apply MEDEVAC techniques learned throughout BCT. Team work and operating under stressful scenarios helps Trainees become more comfortable in uncomfortable environments. Additionally, the ethical dilemma begins exposing Trainees to decisions they may experience in a combat environment.
“Incorporating tactical scenarios are vitally important in Basic Combat Training because it gives Trainees a taste of what continuous operations would feel like in a tactical environment” – SSG (DS) Justin McGarvey, A/4-39 IN.
SSG (DS) Thomas Marshall believes Operation Gothic Serpent is beneficial because it provides a real life scenario to the Trainees. It puts the trainees in a situation where they have to react quickly and implement all the training they have learned.
During Operation Gothic Serpent, the NCO’s ensure that Trainees execute the mission to the best of their ability, while giving them primers
and additional talking points throughout, but are generally “hands off.” Operation Gothic Serpent facilitates a level of training and realism within the TRADOC environment that ensures maximum effectiveness for entry-level Soldiers. SSG (DS) Tyler Murphree believes Operation Gothic Serpent is a great culminating exercise for the Trainees. SSG Murphree stated, “Operation Gothic Serpent is relevant and important due to the optempo of both past and current theaters while conducting operational missions.”
“One limitation within Basic Combat Training is that there is little exposure to the tactical/field environment. Yes, they do have three field training exercises, but aside from patrol base ops, these are generally administrative in nature. I believe this
is a major hindrance because field craft, tactical leadership and exposure to stressful environments are key aspects of becoming a Soldier. Planning,
preparation and practice will equal better performance every time.” – SSG (DS) Morgan Launder
The incorporation of tactical scenarios into BCT can change the expectations for Trainees entering the Force. 4-39 IN also incorporates tactical lanes into the HAMMER and ANVIL FTXs, allowing
for increased practical exercises. These lanes
better explain the “why” behind the lessons that they typically learn during the POI driven round robin classes. During the HAMMER for example, Trainees must move using hand and arm signals down a path when they come upon a casualty. A small group is then tasked with providing security, another group is tasked with evaluating the casualty and the final group is tasked with putting
a radio into operation and calling up a nine-line. Afterwards, a short After Action Report (AAR)
is conducted and then they conduct it again with different roles. This provides a rapid understanding of how the tasks they are taught are practical within their new profession.
Operation Gothic Serpent is a historically rooted, tactical scenario incorporated into the FORGE to help our Trainees link the skills they’ve learned in BCT to practical application. This
assists our Trainees in internalizing the skills and knowledge acquired during Basic Combat Training throughout their careers. As the Army evolves, readiness, regardless of MOS, remains our crucial advantage to continued success in conflicts across the globe. The foundation of readiness, physical fitness and lethality begins the first day of Basic Combat Training. Having the Trainees exercise critical thinking skills based on context and situational training exercises (STX) produces a more ready and effective outcome. We recommend that throughout BCT, our leaders begin incorporating more STX lanes during the three field exercises to effectively solidify the lessons being taught and demonstrate practical application.
CPT Jay W. Banks is the commander of Headquarters and Alpha Company, 4th Battalion, 39th Infantry Regiment, 165th Infantry Brigade.
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