Army training shifts from counterinsurgency warfare

YAKIMA – Capt. Dan Ferriter is used to facing elusive insurgents on his combat tours in Iraq and Afghanistan. They’ve been the Army’s main enemy during his six-year career, planting roadside bombs and taking shots at American soldiers from hidden places.

Now the former Ranger is training to fight a different foe, but one just as lethal for American forces who have been emphasizing counterinsurgency warfare for nearly a decade.

Ferriter, a Stryker brigade officer from Joint Base Lewis-McChord, is getting back to basics and preparing to go to war against another military rather than a shadowy network of terrorists.

“This is pre-9/11,” the dirt-covered captain said last week during his company’s drills at the Yakima Training Center. “The guys that were in the Army pre-9/11 are starting to get few and far between.”

Ferriter is in the desert of central Washington this month with the 3rd Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division. The 4,000-soldier brigade has deployed to Iraq three times since 2003 – it was the first of the Army’s eight Stryker brigades – but it doesn’t have another mission to Iraq or Afghanistan on the horizon.

It’s using this opportunity to build skills for what the Army calls “full-spectrum operations.”

“The hard part is not losing how good we’ve become at (counterinsurgency) and making the right balance,” said Ferriter, 28, of DuPont.

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