2021 Warfighter, a major US Army training exercise involving over 1,000 British and 4,000 American troops, is just weeks away. We meet 4C Military Consultant, Gareth Bennett, to find out how he will be supporting the British Army’s ‘Iron Division’ (3rd Division) to ensure they get the most from Exonaut® during the training exercises.
Hi Gareth. Tell us a bit about your background.
At 16, I joined the British Army as a private. Over the years I worked my way up through the ranks to become a Sergeant. I specialised in the field of telecommunications and spent a lot of time training military personnel in the use of communications equipment. This proved to be the ideal foundation for my transition into civilian life at 4C Strategies.
How did that move come about?
I suffered a serious leg injury while playing sports for the Army. I spent two years having operations and in rehab, before it became apparent that I wouldn’t be able to meet the physical demands of military service. I had plenty of time to plan a new career path and 4C was an ideal match – particularly the role of a consultant embedded within the British Army to support their exercise delivery with Exonaut.
What does your role of Consultant involve?
I support the British Army’s Collective Training Group (CTG) during training exercises, whether they are in the UK or abroad. It includes everything from ensuring the right kit and equipment are shipped to the exercise destination, to training, briefing and assisting team members and observers. And, it’s not just support from the sidelines. If the Army is camping in tents in an austere environment, so am I. During exercises, I’m always on call.
Why is this such an important role?
The British Army has a two-year rotational policy of staff. This means that every two years new people have to come in and learn the system. We provide the continuity and consistency of expertise, enabling them to get the most out of the software and their training in general. Of course, it helps when you are ex-military. I’ve lived and breathed the culture, gone through many of the same experiences and understand military terminology. It’s easy to connect, trust is inherent.
Where have you supported the British Army?
In the four years that I have worked for 4C, I have supported the British Army on exercises in Croatia, France, Germany, Kenya, the US and the UK. This includes training across the LVC (live virtual constructive) spectrum, from sub-unit to division to full-scale interoperability exercises involving multiple nations. Exercises like Warfighter, which I’ll be helping to assess and validate for the third time in April.
Tell us a bit more about Warfighter
Warfighter is a major US Army training exercise that enables them to train their own soldiers and explore interoperability capabilities with the British Army, one of their closest allies. We’re talking over 1,000 British and 4,000 American troops collaboratively training in a war fighter scenario. Over 14 days, the performance of British Army’s ‘Iron Division (3rd Division) will be assessed by Observers from the US and British Army, using Exonaut or Mimir as the British Army refer to their tailored version of Exonaut.
What is your role at Warfighter?
I am the Exonaut expert. As the sole representative from 4C – with access to the team back at the office if needed – I’m responsible for making sure everything works and that the Army gets the most from the system. This covers everything from ensuring all the tablets are charged daily, to uploading publications, to generating training reports.
Once I get observation data from the Observer Mentors, the Exonaut dashboards will automatically populate, and I can start exploiting the data. Based on this, I will hold daily briefing sessions, presenting where they have performed well or poorly. The briefings are also a forum for us to discuss any training issues, best practices, lessons learned, you name it. We may even decide to rerun or recalibrate an exercise mid-action to improve performance.
What about post Warfighter?
Post Warfighter, I will generate training reports from our dashboards and deliver every observation. This will enable the British Army to get an understanding of their performance, which areas were successful, which need improving, and which were not covered at all. Based on this information they can identify their training risks, explore why they are risks, and plan which training activities they should focus on during upcoming exercises.
What will you be doing once it’s finalised?
When I’m done with Warfighter I will be on leave. Following that I will start preparing for the next exercise. This will either be in the UK or the follow-up to Warfighter – Joint Warfighting Assessment (JWA) which is held in Colorado in June. This is an ABCANZ event – America, Britain, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand – where all five nations participate in interop exercises. Basically, it’s Warfighter on a much larger scale and lasts about a month. Again, I’ll be liaising with CTG and the Land Warfare Centre (LWC) at an early stage to make sure all preparations run smoothly, before flying out to Colorado to do it all again.
Finally, you mentioned leave. What do you like to do when you’re not supporting the British Army with 4C?
The training exercises are pretty full on, so I like to relax when I’m on leave and recharge my batteries before the next event. I spend a lot of time with my children and like to walk the coastline and beaches of my home county of Cornwall. It’s a really special place with spectacular scenery.
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