Commanders need to know that Fort Bragg Range Control adjusts its assets to meet the training needs of units. Range control is on duty 24-hours, 365 days a year, seven days a week, said Wolf Amacker, Fort Bragg’s range control officer.
With range and training areas encompassing nearly 178,000 acres, Range Control uses all its resources to ensure that Soldiers get the training they need in all facets, from the range to aircraft to drop zones, and other training sites.
But, what happens when a unit needs flexibility?
According to Mark Murray, chief of operations, Range Control, if training is essential to the execution of a time-sensitive mission, then an adjustment such as re-assigning a unit to a specific area or on another date can be made outside of that four month to six-week window.
“If it’s (training) mission-critical, obviously we will be more flexible,” Murray said.
Shutting down an impact area
Range Control recently undertook an operation to help guarantee that aviators are meeting the new guidance as outlined under Objective T testing — a system designed to measure a unit’s deployment readiness.
The new recommendation specifies that aviators must be able to execute two-ship gunnery training, a drill that requires a great deal of space and targetry.
Master gunners who wanted to align with Objective T recommendations put in a request to Range Control to facilitate the training.
In response, Range Control shut down an entire impact area, McPherson, for aerial gunnery training with Soldiers from the 2nd and 3rd Brigade Combat teams, 82nd Airborne Division, during installation half days in December, said Amacker. He also said the impact area had never been used entirely for one training event in the past.
“Not only did we select the half-day schedule, but we also combined every facility on an entire impact area to allow the aviators the room and target array they needed,” he said.
Aviators in Black Hawks and Chinooks initiated their flights from Campbell’s Crossroads and flew west to West McKeithan Pond, where both ships were able to engage. They continued north to Benchmark 107, shooting eastward, before continuing north to OP13 to shoot south. There, the aviators turned around and did the same training in the reverse direction, Amacker explained. In addition, a command control aircraft flew above aviators to ensure they were following the right path and shooting the right targets.
“We were able to coordinate the use of all of our facilities at a proper time to meet the needs of a unit. We coordinate and de-conflict training events every single day,” Amacker said.
Because Fort Bragg’s airspace is designated R5311, or restricted air space based on activities such as live fire and airborne jumps, Range Control controls all aircraft movement.
Fort Bragg had 72,248 air sorties conducted in R5311 last year. Thus, the adjustments are not only made for active-duty Soldiers, but for Reservists, Airman and Marines, as well.
Range Control will go out of its way to help Soldiers train to standards that enable them to remain a ready force.
The one downfall that thwarts Range Control capabilities and hampers Fort Bragg’s attention to remaining mission ready is when units fail to cancel training, such as range drills, that has been previously scheduled through RFMSS.
Murray said units are allowed to schedule training through the Range Facility Management Support System, or RFMSS.
Every brigade-level unit has a RFMSS scheduler, whose job is to set-up training within a window of four months to six weeks from the start of the training.
A synchronization meeting, held each Thursday to discuss current safety trends and range policies and operations, is conducted one week before the training is to take place.
“When they (units) follow all the scheduling protocol, they know they need to attend. But, we don’t turn down anyone who wants to come,” Murray said.
“If they don’t cancel it and they don’t utilize the range, then we have a case where the range is not utilized and resources aren’t used properly,” Murray said. “Our utilization numbers are very high, and for a range to be scheduled and not used, is not a good thing.”
Cancelling scheduled training gives another unit the opportunity to use the facility, he said.
Range Control does its job as effectively as possible to accommodate and shelter Soldiers’ training needs. Comprised of personnel who are military veterans, they know the importance of passing a commander’s scrutiny and of being well-trained.
“Somehow, we will find a way to make it happen,” Murray said.