Transforming Tanks to Boots

Slide 1
Figure 1. Company AMTs, both company and platoon.
Slide 2
Figure 2. Omani and U.S. task organization.
Slide 3
Figure 3. The company task organization to match the Omani company, showing the combat power the company would have and the capabilities it would bring to partner with RAO. This shaped the attachments the company received prior to collective training.
Slide 4
Figure 4. SGT Travis L. Easley, SGT Glenn R. Hasenmyer, PFC Olukayode J. Osinowo (left to right) and PFC Mark F. Aldapa (entering door) train in the CQB lane at the
360 Shoothouse, Range 5, Udairi Range Complex, the training area for Camp Buehring, Kuwait. (Photo by CPT Nicholas A. Rinaldi)
Slide 5
Figure 5. The company-level raid, encompassing all required training objectives.

As a tank company within a combined-arms battalion forward-deployed to Camp Buehring, Kuwait, in support of Operation Spartan Shield, our mission was unique to most combat operations that have and are occurring throughout the Middle East.

The brigade was tasked as the theater reserve for Joint Security Area (JSA) Georgia, with the responsibility to respond to any decisive-action contingency across the region. The brigade trained to deploy its force forward, with the mechanized infantry companies also being trained to conduct noncombatant evacuation operations and the tank companies trained and focused on decisive action. The tank companies created the mission-ready force (MRF) heavy – a modified table of organization and equipment (MTOE) tank company collectively trained and qualified for a decisive-action fight. We had the opportunity to continue our training while deployed forward in Kuwait, which we did extensively.

Another mission given to us by U.S. Army Central (ARCENT) was the theater security-cooperation exercises (TSCE) within JSA Georgia, which included exercises with nations such as Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Oman, the United Arab Emirates and Kuwait.

The TSCEs assigned to ARCENT are executed by the rotational theater reserve unit, since they are the most trained and ready Army force within the region. Of those exercises, Charlie Company (“Chaos”), 1-67th Combined Arms Battalion, was able to participate in three of the four TSCEs that occurred during the nine-month rotation. After collectively training for more than 12 months as an MTOE tank company postured for decisive action, the company was able to transition to several combat platforms to accomplish the TSCEs’ training objectives – whether that was tanks, trucks or on foot.

Identifying assigned mission tasks

The first of the TSCEs was conducted in Oman partnered with a light-infantry company, Alpha Company, 11th Frontier Brigade, Royal Army of Oman (RAO). Chaos Company was assigned this mission early in the deployment to maintain MRF readiness for both the light and medium force throughout collective training and the duration of the exercise. ARCENT’s role involved conducting several planning conferences with the RAO, working the scope of the training objectives the Omanis wanted to accomplish while collectively exchanging doctrine with the U.S. military.

The purpose of a TSCE is to place a regionally aligned force from the U.S. Army with another nation’s army within that region and build a relationship to provide senior leaders a “vehicle” to build relationships at the strategic level with that host nation. Understanding that there are specific training objectives for each of these TSCEs, the development of assigned mission tasks (AMTs) is developed between ARCENT and the foreign military counterparts with which the United States is conducting the exercise.

ARCENT’s G-3 team developed the tasks the RAO wished to conduct to meet their training objectives and delivered these tasks to the assigned rotational unit, 2nd Armored Brigade Combat Team (ABCT), 4th Infantry Division (the theater reserve). The brigade assigned the mission to 1-67 Armor Regiment, a combined-arms battalion within its organization, and the TSCE was then assigned down to Chaos Company, as that was the size of organization required to conduct this TSCE with the RAO.

The tasks ARCENT developed were in the form of objectives on constructed situational training exercise (STX) lanes, building from squad through company-level iterations. Each day built on itself and specific tasks scheduled for completion before moving to a higher level of collective training. Based on those tasks, we developed a set of collective mission tasks, AMTs, which look very much like our company mission-essential task list (METL). These collective tasks at the platoon and company level were chosen based on the individual tasks held within, getting as close as possible to the collective tasks ARCENT had requested. Once these were approved, we developed a training plan that would ensure the company was proficient in each AMT in six weeks to meet our timeline for deployment to Oman.

Shaping force to match mission

Organizing a 64-man tank company into a light-infantry rifle company is not unheard of within the last 12 years of counterinsurgency (COIN) operations in the Middle East, so pulling forward some of those concepts was not difficult. We originally started out with the standard tank company configured to operate in a COIN environment, which looked like two infantry squads, including the platoon leader and platoon sergeant embedded within the squads. This would keep the leadership structure intact, with three platoons and a headquarters element. Understanding that this mission included significantly more open terrain and no vehicular support, we adjusted the configuration of the platoons to add more personnel to the team. We deconstructed one platoon, handing the staff sergeants and below over to the two other tank platoons, adding to their ranks to make 25 Soldiers.

We gained the battalion mortar platoon, consisting of 20 Soldiers, to which we added from our headquarters element to create the 25-man platoon. This created two maneuverable squads with a platoon headquarters element for mission command. Each squad had two squad automatic weapon (SAW) gunners and two M203/M320 grenadiers. We also trained M240B machinegunners and assigned one to each squad if the mission dictated.

Also, there were enough Soldiers at the company level to have a company mission-command node. The platoon leader and platoon sergeant from the deconstructed platoon assisted in an observer/controller role during our collective training, assisting the executive officer with the company trains and daily resourcing requirements. We attached a scout platoon, sniper squad and 15 linguists to accomplish all training objectives with the RAO. A small battalion tactical command-post node deployed to assist with mission command and for direct coordination with the ARCENT exercise support group in Oman.

Collective training

To become proficient in all AMTs in six weeks, Chaos Company configured into a light-infantry rifle company and began training at the individual level. Having qualified all Soldiers on M-4 rifles prior to deployment, including basic and advanced rifle marksmanship, the team went straight into close-quarters marksmanship (CQM) at the individual level. We spent time engaging targets both stationary and while moving, and working on individual body stance and weapon posture.

Next was the buddy-team level: for two days, each squad broke their members down into buddy teams, working individual movement techniques, buddy-team bounding, team-movement techniques and specialty teams within the squad (such as aid and litter teams, detainee teams, etc.). Buddy-team training included another live-fire of CQM to advanced CQM and close-quarters battle (CQB) that involved Battle Drill 6. We worked this team-level training extensively over the course of several days to gain proficiency at the most basic collective level.

We noticed the company had a broad range of proficiency in dismounted operations stemming from various levels of experience throughout the organization, including noncommissioned officers (NCOs) recently redeployed from Afghan security-force assistance teams (SFATs); NCOs with multiple tours to both Iraq and Afghanistan with COIN tactics, techniques and procedures (TTPs) from various units; and platoon leaders and junior enlisted with no deployments and trained for decisive mounted operations. To bring all these experiences together, every training event was soundly based within doctrinal tasks and performance measures. Where there were doctrinal gaps, TTPs were formed, codified, validated and published within our company standard operating procedures made specifically for this TSCE.

At squad level, the team conducted movement techniques and formations, navigating linear danger areas, reacting to contact and squad attack (both urban environment and rural). This culminated with a squad live-fire iteration integrating battle drills 6 and 6A. There were some challenges as we validated at squad level, such as SAW gunners not having qualified on their weapon prior to live-fire. We worked through this issue by using blanks for those Soldiers and still accomplishing the intent of the training objectives – to have sound tactical movement and maneuver of fires.

From squad-level training, we moved on to platoon level, where cordon and search was introduced along with platoon attack. At Camp Buehring and the Udairi Training Complex, there were enough urban-training environments to conduct platoon training for all four platoons on the same training area. This rapidly produced proficient platoons over a series of days that culminated in platoon force-on-force with Ultimate Training Munitions rounds (man-marking rounds). The platoon force-on-force scenario involved maneuver from a rural to urban environment using the platoon collective tasks they trained and having the paint rounds as feedback, creating a more realistic training event.

The final collective training event was a series of troop-leading procedures, including company-level rehearsals, operations orders and a combined-arms rehearsal that focused on a company-level raid with scouts and snipers in overwatch of the objective. This scenario was deliberately close to the final training event that occurred in Oman with our partners, including the ground maneuver to the objective rally point (react to contact), leader’s recon of the objective, isolation, assault and withdrawal of the company element. At the end of that scenario, the company was proficient in its AMTs, projecting a light-infantry rifle company based in doctrine and validated collectively.

Exercising trained force

When deploying to an austere environment, establishing a packing list and conducting pre-combat checks (PCCs) and pre-combat inspections (PCIs) are vital. We conducted all PCCs and PCIs to standard just as if we were deploying from the States to combat. Along with combat layouts and personnel and equipment inspections, we conducted administrative readiness with Soldier Readiness Processing packets, medical readiness with immunizations and manifests for each flight. As we landed in Oman, we were housed at the closest U.S. base, which was Thumrait Royal Air Base near Thumrait, Oman.

While the company was focused on the training objectives for the exercise, they understood that the primary mission was partnership with the Omanis. We established linkup with 11th Frontier Brigade and immediately got to work building relationships at every level. Within the first few days of being on the ground, we had our opening-ceremony meet-and-greet and were on their range exchanging weapons and firing at static targets.

We moved to squad-level partnership, which consisted of each squad conducting lanes focusing on react-to-contact and squad ambush, as well as urban maneuver and entering and clearing a room. Both U.S. and Omani Soldiers conducted maneuver together paired at the individual level. The Omanis mirrored U.S. tactics and the United States mirrored Omani tactics for each tactical task.

As each unit’s doctrine and techniques were exchanged on the STX lanes, the partnership between the two countries flourished. Squad-level training progressed to platoon-level training, and the exercise culminated with a company-level raid. Throughout the lane iterations, leaders developed joint doctrine that provided a means of combined maneuver using each nation’s techniques on the battlefield – producing successful combined company raids.

The culminating exercise was observed by several dignitaries and military leaders from both countries and served to further the partnership of the two countries at the strategic level. Our train-up and preparation for this event laid the foundation, which allowed our partnership with the RAO to remain the focus instead of worrying about each other’s technical and tactical capabilities. The deployment finished with a closing ceremony and celebration with our counterparts, experiencing local food and culture with them – an unforgettable event that at higher echelon meant strategic-level access and interoperability with Oman that had not previously existed.


Building a team to conduct any level of TSCE in concert with regionally aligned forces involves deliberate planning and training of AMTs, task organization and specific focus on partnership and relationship-building. Having the force that will represent the United States based in doctrine is essential to projecting the right example to a foreign nation.

Deploying from a forward location is just as deliberate in its execution as from home station, and having the mission-command node in place that is responsible for liaison between the partnering unit and the responsible headquarters (ARCENT in this case) is critical to mission focus for the unit executing the partnership.

These elements led to a successful rotation with the RAO and had a strategic impact for both access and interoperability with a foreign nation within the Middle East.