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October 22, 2010

Mobilization

OPFOR gets in the mind of the enemy

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.
PHOTO: An OPFOR Soldier from the 2nd Battalion, 411th Regiment, 181st Infantry Brigade, reacts to a security patrol during a recent mission-readiness exercise. Photo by 1st Lt. Jeffrey E. Gruidl
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 Brigade.

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.”

PHOTO: OPFOR Soldiers from the 2nd Battalion, 411th Regiment, 181st Infantry Brigade, prepare for an ambush of a route clearance patrol during a recent mission-readiness exercise. Photo by 1st Lt. Jeffrey E. Gruidl
OPFOR Soldiers from the 2nd Battalion, 411th Regiment, 181st Infantry Brigade, prepare for an ambush of a route clearance patrol during a recent mission-readiness exercise.

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 engagements.

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.)

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