Updated 09/08/2011 02:12 PM
Fort Drum Remembers 9/11: How 9/11 changed the way the Army trains
After the attacks on 9/11, the U.S. had new enemy territory to enter. The terrains of Iraq and Afghanistan presented new challenges, as did the desire to help their people in the process. The Army had to re-think the way it trained its soldiers. In part three of his weeklong series leading up to the 10th anniversary of 9/11, Brian Dwyer looks at the changes in Army training and why more falls on the individual soldier than ever before.
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FORT DRUM, N.Y. -- Before September 11th, it was all about major conflicts, much like World War II or Korea. The Army trained specifically for large scale operations.
But after 9/11, that all changed. Iraq and Afghanistan presented a new terrain and new culture. Everything was scaled down, putting more emphasis on individual units and soldiers, while making sure they respected the country they were entering.
"It's a lot more challenging for soldiers to go into combat now because it's not just go close in on the enemy and destroy the enemy," Fort Drum Chief of Training Joe Wood said. "It's now go in there and find out what's really going on. Find out who really truly is the bad person and then deal with the cultural needs of those people that you're interfacing with. That means the individual soldier has to be so much more prepared and so much more competent and so much more capable of his job or her job then they were before. With large scale operations you're not going to have that one on one interaction that you do with these theatres of operation and that's the big challenge."
And that requires understanding. Joe Wood was invited to Iraq a few years ago and brought some of that culture back. He helped creating these massive villages right on Fort Drum, to help the soldiers get the job done.
"Them explaining to us, this is how they do their patrolling," He said. "This is where their challenges are, as far as narrow streets, very complex, different sized structures."
"Both of them have a little different flavor to them and they have different challenges to them so that the training resources had to be designed in order to meet both of those theatres after 9/11," Wood continued.
And they're resources and exercises you never would have seen years ago. Whether it be live fire or the threat of IEDs
"Nothing is ever fool proof," Then SSG Travis Fisher of the 3rd Brigade, 314th said during a training event back in 2006. "We can't completely stop the IED attacks, but if we can help identify the IED before the attacks happen, that's what we're trying to get out of this training."
Technology has changed and now the villages even have role playing actors.
"It's very realistic," Sgt. Tiffanie Pulley, a member of the 91st Military Police Battalion said during a training in 2010. "It's almost like a dream but reality at the same time. It's very fast paced, you have to be on the go and ready to move at any moment. It's very fun."
"Now obviously we cannot replicate full blown combat and the enemy, of course, gets to change whenever they wish to, but here what we do is try to provide them the resources that give them the best possible understanding of where they're going to go and what challenges they're going to face," Wood added.
And most soldiers at Fort Drum say they're able to better focus on those challenges because they know their families back home are being taken care of by the Watertown community. It's a relationship that has helped both tremendously.
Friday, Brian looks at the bond between Watertown and Fort Drum and how each plays a role in the other's success, especially during the challenging times right after 9/11.