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Minnesota National Guard
Running the war simulator

War simulator JOINT BASE LEWIS MCCHORD, Washington- Effective Infantrymen practice marksmanship and map reading; successful armor crewmen practice maneuvering and tank gunnery; and efficient headquarters staffs hone their craft by practicing battle drills over and over. But whereas the infantry and armor can simulate combat by creating opposing forces, higher-level headquarters staffs require a more in-depth, realistic war game simulation to successfully train together. Enter in the war simulator, or war sim.

Approximately 200 Soldiers of the 34th "Red Bull" Infantry Division headquarters based out of Rosemount, Minnesota, travelled to Joint Base Lewis McChord, Washington, in late November to conduct a premier military-to-military training exercise with U.S. Army I Corps and the Japanese army. Some Red Bull Soldiers were responsible for running the war simulator for the command post exercise known as Yama Sakura.

"The war sim is a live feed of both enemy and friendly forces," said Lt. Col. Andy Engelhardt, 34th Infantry Division Red Team Chief, from Little Falls, Minnesota. During the command post exercise, Engelhardt is the response cell officer-in-charge. "Our job in the response cell is to feed information to and from the division current operations integration cell. We take division tactical orders and enter them into the war sim. That is where the fight occurs, in the computer. But, because there are actual people running the war sim from the enemy side as well, the battle outcomes are unpredictable.

"We have all division maneuver and sustainment elements represented," he continued. "We've even brought in our aligned-for-training units: the 141st Maneuver Enhancement Brigade from North Dakota, the 116th Cavalry Brigade Combat Team from Idaho and the 115th Field Artillery Brigade from Wyoming."

The 34th Infantry Division response cell consists of roughly 80 Soldiers who move units around the simulated battle space. Each battalion is managed by a single Soldier, usually a young specialist or sergeant, who moves the game pieces around in the war simulator.

One such sim operator, Spc. Jasmine Reuteler, a La Crescent, Minnesota, native and intel analyst with the 34th Infantry Division Headquarters, is responsible for maneuvering the 1-94 Armored Cavalry Squadron during the exercise. She says this is the fourth exercise that she's been a part of since joining the National Guard in 2013.

"I've been on both sides of the war sim," she said. "Although I'm just moving one small piece, it's neat to sit back and look at the big picture, too. It's awesome to know that the work I put into the war sim to feed the exercise helps the division to train. And, in this exercise our simulations go all the way up to Japan."

"These young Soldiers are filling in for what would normally be a battalion commander," said Maj. Greg Hungiville, the 34th Infantry Division Air Missile Defense Chief from River Falls, Wisconsin. "They are working with me, in an acting brigade commander position for the simulation, to maneuver units and fight the enemy.

"They have to look at battlefields just as a battalion or squadron commander must do. What they are learning is absolutely valuable to their military careers. It's not often that young Soldiers get the opportunity to really see the battle from this perspective."

"As an intel analyst, I've already had experience with how units operate on the battlefield," said Reuteler, who happens to also be the 34th Infantry Division Soldier of the Year. "I'm using these exercises to build a foundation for my military career. I hope to stay in for 30 years, if I can."

December 9, 2015
by Master Sgt. Ashlee J. L. Sherrill
34th Infantry Division Public Affairs

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