• Tactics course takes students to next level

  • CGSOC students culminate course with battle simulations May 11-12 at the CGSC.

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  • Christopher Burnett | Staff Writer
    Command and General Staff Officer Course students enrolled in the A350 Field Grade Role in Warfighting Application and Military Decision-Making Process: Decisive Action Application Course culminated the course with battle simulations May 11-12 at the Command and General Staff College.
    Shane Perkins, an assistant professor in the Department of Army Tactics, said the course is part of the Tactical Coalition Warfare Track that teaches students to plan, prepare and execute as brigade-level officers operating in an immersive tactical environment through gaming software. He said students who complete the A350 course validate other elective credit requirements and are automatically enrolled in the A340 Eagle Owl exercise course.
    “Students and faculty members form a cohort and remain together throughout the course,” Perkins said. “The student officers in this course operate at the brigade leadership level. They ultimately learn to solve tactical problems using the (military decision-making process) planning methodology.”
    CGSOC student Maj. Gerard Philip, an infantry officer, said his company-level experience had been in counterinsurgency. He said his motivation to take the A350 course centered upon learning the planning and tactics that go with a higher-level scenario.
    “This is very useful information at this point in my career. Deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan and working at the company-level presented different challenges,” Philip said. “Another great thing about this class is it teaches you how to build the systems to manage all of the enormous amounts of data that is rapidly changing during the fight.”
    Perkins said two groups of 34 students in different classrooms fought a battle by comparing and choosing the optimal offensive and defensive doctrinal tasks. He said the groups changed roles from defense to offense and offense to defense each week to afford experiences acting in each role.
    “The A350 class scenario centers around the creation of two opposing staff planning teams that analyze a combat situation, then execute a tactical fight against each other from both a battalion and brigade perspective,” Perkins said.
    Perkins said the course ultimately requires students to develop plans, make decisions, see the outcomes of their decisions played out in real-time, and make new choices based on those experiences.
    “The A350 course has proven to be a favorite among students who seek more opportunities for repetitions in this type of process,” Perkins said.
    CGSOC student Maj. Lawrence Csaszar, an infantry officer, said he took the course to get more opportunities to apply tactical thinking gained from other CGSOC instruction. He said the A350 scenario required students to put together plans on a larger scale than anything he had to do at that point in his career.
    “It challenged me to go outside of my comfort zone and hit the books to do the necessary research and reading,” Csaszar said. “And, interacting with the other officers in the class enhances my knowledge base because of the varied experiences we each bring to our respective teams.”
    Page 2 of 2 - Csaszar said the groups developed a master plan before the start of the simulated battle began on May 11. He said the initial plans used the given information at the beginning of the simulation and were adapted to situational realities as the fight progressed.
    “We prepared by developing a plan based upon what our initial assessment told us the opposing force was likely to do,” Csaszar said. “Ultimately, we’ve learned that it is just as important to be nimble — quickly be able to adjust the plan to continue moving toward success. Even if you have a fantastic plan from the outset, chances are it is going to change when you get to execution.”
    Csaszar said he also had the opportunity to work with the British officers during the previous iteration of the Eagle Owl Exercise. He said learning the planning methodology of an allied force is necessary and critical to any tactical success.
    “I found out that both systems are capable of accomplishing the mission efficiently,” Csaszar said. “Our planning process seems more staff centered.”
    CGSOC student Capt. Andrew Jenkins, a finalist in the General George S. Patton Jr. Master Tactician Award competition, served as the battalion commander in one scenario and brigade S3 in another. He said his group assessment of the simulated enemy had proven to be accurate.
    “The opposing force was where we anticipated them to be, for the most part, and they are reacting in the manner we thought,” Jenkins said. “Terrain impacted us more than we expected, so we are slower in our tactical movements.”
    Matthew Green, assistant professor, said 12 of the 68 participating students would attend the School for Advanced Military Studies after graduation from CGSOC.
    “They represent a diverse group of military occupational specialties,” Green said. “Twelve branches — Military Intelligence, Field Artillery, Armor, Infantry, Aviation, Signal Corps, (Psychological Operations), Military Police, Medical Service, Chemical Corps, Logistics and Engineers.”
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