US Marines Tackle DATE Pacific

The Marine Rotational Force - Darwin (MRF-D) 2021 rotation has successfully completed a series of exercises in Australia, becoming the first US Marines to have used the Decisive Action Training Environment (DATE)

The DATE Team was given the lead on developing DATE pacific by US Army Training and Doctrine Command (USTRADOC) and developed a contemporary and realistic Operating Environment (OE) for the ADF to train and plan against. the TASSC has now bridged the gap between OPGEN/FORGEN and expeditionary and domestic training exercises. The TASSC first engaged with MRF-D in November 2020 to coordinate exercise scenario support with the integration of the DATE Pacific region.

OPSO - LtCol Amy Roznowski was asked for her opinion of DATTE and utilising the TASSC in support of MRF-D Ex’s – 24 Sep 2021.

Q- Your rotation is the 1st MRF-D rotation to use a DATE scenario, and more specifically a DATE Pacific scenario.  How do you feel using DATE has aided your training on this rotation?

A- Given the fact that the MRF-D Command Element has a limited amount of staff, having an external agency assist in developing a baseline scenario with a specifically designed adversary force and capability enabled the MRF-D Command Element and Marine Air Ground Task Force (MAGTF) to operate as the target training audience.  The baseline scenario that had vignettes scoped for the major and minor training exercises also facilitated achieving our tactical training objectives.


Q- Knowing that the AS Army were using DATE and in particular, the DATE Pacific scenario, how did this impact on interoperability achieved during the rotation?

A- It was beneficial to operate together from the same baseline scenario and adversary.  This way, it did not matter which subordinate unit of MRF-D or 1BDE trained together; when we did operate together, there wasn’t need to accommodate a different scenario each time.  The scenario & road-to-crisis was then a progressive development; the threat and events leading up to any given training event fed the friendly and enemy situation that commanders and staffs used in Task and Operation Orders.


Q- Noting that this year’s rotation was very nearly overshadowed by COVID and the implications this had on the infil of planners and troops, what effect did the TASSC support in building the DATE scenario have on freeing up additional planning time?

A-With a small staff already, having TASSC available and involved freed up primary staff and planners from the detailed scenario development and enabled them to participate more as the training audience.


Q- The TASSC adapted the DATE Pacific campaign plan of Operation Steel Sentinel into a multi Island scenario in line with your training objectives, how did this adaption suit what you wanted to achieve for your various exercises?

A- MRF-D 20.2 developed a multi-island scenario for Exercise KOOLENDONG, and the general scope was limited.  In today’s threat environment and in the effort to refine tactics, techniques, and procedures, simulating an environment that will stress the capabilities of individuals and units within all warfighting functions and domains is highly beneficial and necessary.


Q- The DATE Pacific scenario developed for the MRF-D was the overarching scenario for your exercise series, including Croc Response, DarrenDarra, Southern Jackaroo, Koolendong and Loobye.  How did using an overarching scenario help you in terms of the progression of training evolutions throughout the series of exercises?

- See answer to question 2 above.


Q- In relation to the EN picture, including both the North Torbian Marine Expeditionary Forces (NTMEF) and guerrilla movements such as the Visayan People Front (VPF) and the Free Sulu Movement (FSM).  Were they challenging enough for the various MFR-D elements to plan against, and for future rotations, what other EN capabilities do you want to focus on?

A- Reimaging the road-to-crisis scenario with an appropriate adversary will be necessary for every rotation.  As capabilities progress and interoperability objectives adjust, we must be able to scope the simulated environment and construct the adversary that will stress capabilities and capacity for the target audience for the given exercise or training event.


Q- The TASSC also supplied SOCMED reports ISO various activities, in particular Croc Response and DarrenDarra.  How do you feel about what they added to the realism of the scenario - were they believable and relative etc?  Did they add friction and create RFI’s/assumptions for planners? What level of INFOWAR support would you like to see next year and into the future?

A- Information support that progressed the training scenario was very beneficial.  It is easy to get caught up in a single line of effort as a staff that focuses on the big muscle movements. In today’s environment we need to include levels of information that enable decision makers at all levels to develop realistic plans and adjust plans as new reports become available.

Prepared for SMART SOLDIER ARTICLE Issue no. 59 – 10th Anniversary MRF-D Rotation to Darwin 2021.