|Story & photos by 1st Lt. Jeffrey E. Gruidl, 181st
Infantry Brigade Public Affairs Office
Running through the trees, setting up ambushes and improvised explosive
devices (IEDs) to help train mobilizing units sounds like fun for most
Soldiers. For Soldiers of the Opposing Force (OPFOR) Company, 2nd
Battalion, 411th Regiment, 181st Infantry Brigade, there is much more to
OPFOR than just playing in the woods.
An OPFOR Soldier from the 2nd
Battalion, 411th Regiment, 181st Infantry Brigade, reacts to a
security patrol during a recent mission-readiness exercise.
OPFOR provide current, real-world enemy tactics to prepare
mobilizing units for deployment.
Developing the training battle space by applying current, real-world
enemy tactics, techniques and procedures is the mission of the OPFOR.
Working closely with observer-controller-trainers (OCTs), the 2nd, 411th
shapes the battlefield for the training conducted by the 181st Infantry
Replicating the enemy force in Iraq, Afghanistan and other hostile areas
of the world is the OPFOR mission. The more realistic the OPFOR can be,
the better the training is for the Soldiers and Airmen preparing for
deployment. To provide accurate and realistic training, the OPFOR must
be adept in many roles. They need to accurately portray local national
civilians, host-nation government agencies, and insurgent forces. Based
on current operations and continual changes, OPFOR adapts to
unconventional battle tactics as well.
Some of the OPFOR engagements consistent with the 181st mission of
training Engineer units are IEDs, deep buried IEDs, under-vehicle IEDs,
rocket-propelled grenades (RPGs), small-arms fire, complex attacks,
ambushes, and mortar attacks.
Spc. Jesus Nunez, OPFOR for the 2nd, 411th said, “We work closely with
the OCTs to place IEDs in strategic and realistic locations.”
Spc. Coady Schlitz, OPFOR for the 2nd, 411th said, “Success is setting
up ambushes where the Soldiers get an audio and visual training
experience as close to combat as we can make it.”
OPFOR Soldiers from the 2nd
Battalion, 411th Regiment, 181st Infantry Brigade, prepare for
an ambush of a route clearance patrol during a recent
The OPFOR uses civilian contractors, the Center for Army Lessons
Learned, Soldiers recently returning from overseas deployments and
intelligence reports to help create realistic and timely enemy
The main focus of the OPFOR effort is the situational training exercise
run by the 1st Brigade, 338th Regiment and the culminating training
event enabled by the 3rd Brigade, 340th Regiment. OPFOR supports these
training events by providing an enemy with a variety of weapons and
friendly and enemy local nationals. Local nationals can be people
milling around in villages looking suspicious or being harmless, forcing
mobilizing Soldiers to react to civilians on the battlefield.
The OPFOR uses many different types of equipment to complete its
mission. Equipment used includes a self-contained portable IED simulator
device, a selectable lightweight attack munitions simulator kit,
under-vehicle IED simulator device, paintball RPG guns, artillery
simulators, grenade simulators, semi-automatic and automatic weapons.
These devices and weapons mostly are used to produce explosions and
gunfire in the efforts to replicate enemy tactics.
It’s clear there is more to OPFOR than showing up in fatigues and
ambushing training units. Long hours of hard physical work, extensive
amounts of planning and rehearsals are required to ensure the 2nd, 411th
provides the best OPFOR scenario for the training being conducted.
(Staff Sgt. Daniel Fritsch contributed to this article.)