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Behind the Razor Wire: U.S. Army’s Asymmetric Warfare Training Center

By Robert Bruce, Military Affairs Editor

“The Asymmetric Warfare Group (AWG), headquartered at Fort Meade, Maryland, is an Army unit of highly skilled warriors who provide observation, analysis, enhanced training and advisory support to Army and Joint Force Units in order to enhance their capabilities to predict, mitigate, counter and defeat asymmetric threats and methods. The AWG is the only unit in the Army that actively seeks new enemy Tactics, Techniques and Procedures and looks to develop solutions. The Group maintains a global presence and focuses on identifying and overcoming emerging asymmetric threats.” –AWG Statement

Weapons Training and Innovation

The United States Army’s “Big Green Machine” is well known for its ability to bring down a world of hurt on adversaries with overwhelming force and massive firepower, followed by taking and holding large areas of terrain. While essential in conventional warfare, this fearsome capability is not ideally suited to “asymmetric warfare”—non-traditional methods developed and used by enemy forces.

One prominent example is the employment of various types of Improvised Explosive Devices. Cheap, easy to make and hide, and demonically effective against vehicles and patrolling troops, comprehensive efforts at countering IEDs quickly became a high priority, eventually leading to the creation of AWG, the Asymmetric Warfare Group, in 2006. While this unique organization’s headquarters, concepts and operational elements are based at Fort Meade, Maryland, its Easy Squadron has the Asymmetric Warfare Training Center, occupying a 300-acre, razor wire ringed complex on Fort A.P. Hill, Virginia. AWTC provides a venue to “refine training concepts and assess potential solutions in a realistic environment while serving as a laboratory for innovation.”

In addition to several specialized live fire ranges including a 14-lane indoor range that accommodates small arms up to 7.62mm, AWTC’s most notable feature is the $96 million Urban Complex, completed in 2014. It’s a highly realistic, modern cityscape, suitable for many types of training as well as the development of innovative tactical concepts. It boasts various buildings realistically representing a bank, hotel, police and fire station, and a five-story combination “embassy” with storefronts. There is an extensive system...

This article first appeared in Small Arms Review V21N10 (December 2017)
and was posted online on October 20, 2017

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