Fort Benning students take part in war-game exercise

Students at Fort Benning’s Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation are taking part in a mock war this week.

Four classrooms at the institute have been transformed into an operations center for more than 60 officers taking part in a war game exercise. The training which ends Thursday is aimed at giving students a sense of what it’s like to work as a partner with other nations, said Air Force Maj. Douglas Aguilar, an instructor at the institute.

“When you actually go out in the field, you will have a better understanding of partner nations,” Aguilar said. “Secondly, these students have not been involved in major joint operations. This is the first time with them having to plan a major operation with coalition forces.”

As part of the Army’s Command and General Staff College-Intermediate Level Education Course, students in the training exercise are from 10 different countries with instructors from 17 various countries.

Armed forces from the U.S. Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines are called into action after “Azerbaijan” is invaded by a fictitious nation.

“Azerbaijan has petitioned the U.S. for help,” Aguilar said. “The U.S. force has liaison with coalition forces from Turkey and United Kingdom. They have to come up with a plan to help the country from the invading force.”

Each group of students much plan exercises from the air and on the ground to repel the attack.

“The Air Force students are in charge of air superiority. Our Air Force has to coordinate with Army officers on the ground,” Aguilar said. “Each student has a responsibility in each of those cells.”

The entire exercise comes alive with the Army’s Command Post of the Future computer software. It features live scenes of the battlefield, maps and the ability to communicate with different forces through networking.

After the exercise ends on Thursday, an instructor will assess each student’s complex, tactical problems within the context of the operation. The exercise focuses on the ability to spot tactical problems, support the commander’s decision and to adjust the plan based on recognizing new tactical dilemmas.

Since 2001, the institute has provided professional education and training to military, law enforcement and civilians from the Western Hemisphere. The institute’s missions include promoting democratic values, respect for human rights and understanding U.S. customs and traditions.