A 775,000-acre, sparsely vegetated landscape of the Mojave Desert holds a key to the future of land warfare. The imposing physical locale of the National Training Center at Fort Irwin, Calif., is a modern-day Garden of Eden in terms of building and fine-tuning the Army and the joint force for future conflicts that are expected to require agile, adaptable and ready forces; and molding the creative and skilled leaders needed in what the Army sees as a future of complex threats and short-fuse missions.Daily news reports leave little doubt that the U.S. potentially faces an increasingly long laundry list of future conflicts of varying levels. There are competing powers, such as China and Russia. There are unstable regional powers, such as North Korea. The U.S. faces cyberthreats from various powers big and small, and transnational networks of terrorists, criminals and general evil-doers. In this intricate environment, the Army must not only be prepared to conduct unified land operations while facing myriad threats within any environment, but also prevail regardless of the conditions or circumstances.The National Training Center (NTC) includes 12 replicated towns consisting of 1,200 buildings. Three of the largest towns are fully instrumented with sight, sound and scent capability. The 1,000-square-kilometer northern portion of the training area is further enhanced with 1,543 portable, remotely controlled target lifters and discarded military vehicles.The NTC is the only U.S. military training facility that supports brigade-level, live-fire exercises. Joint and combined operations are routinely executed with the incorporation of all enablers available to a commander of a brigade combat team (BCT), using ordnance from 5.56 mm rifle rounds to 2,000-pound joint delivered attack munitions that are put to the test under live-fire conditions.From the physical to the digital world, the remotely located training center has the unimpeded ability to exercise cyber electromagnetic activities across the spectrum. These include cyberspace operations, electronic warfare and spectrum management operations. These capabilities combine to create a physical backdrop of training opportunity that has been utilized by our Army and joint partners for over 30 years.Within this imposing physical locale, the NTC uses the decisive action training environment and a high-fidelity training support system to replicate complex events and hybrid threats. It uses the opposing force to validate home-station training and increase Army BCT readiness and unified action partner integration, interoperability and interdependence.Blend of Dynamic, Scripted EventsProvided within the 14-day BCT training rotations executed here—nine each year—are multifaceted scenarios that train unified land operations by stressing the application of both Army core competencies of wide area security and combined arms maneuver. Every training rotation’s scenario is a unique blend of dynamic and scripted events, tailored to the specific training objectives of the visiting BCT and unified action partners.The environment is interactively complex, changing with the actions or inaction of the BCT. A typical rotational unit can expect to conduct an attack to seize key terrain, defend an international border from a hostile nation, conduct a noncombatant evacuation operation, contend with displaced persons and execute personnel recovery missions—simultaneously, in some circumstances.To add to the complexity, the decisive action training environment is laden with social, ethical and moral dilemmas. Service members encounter complex problem sets, including extremist organizations, human and drug trafficking, chemical and biological threats, disease outbreaks, host-nation human rights abuses, radicalized American citizens, and the interaction with standard as well as social media.The Army unit assigned to the task of executing the operational environment is the 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment (ACR), also known as Blackhorse. It accomplishes this, in part, by providing a host-nation population, including security and military forces. The host nation’s “local” populace, civil government officials and security personnel provide a valuable context for the training unit, allowing it to achieve specific training objectives associated with stability operations.Besides friendly and neutral forces, Blackhorse provides the full spectrum of threat capability to include near-peer conventional forces of a nation-state actor, guerrilla forces, insurgents and organized criminals. The 11th ACR is our premier force that replicates the five characteristics of the future operational environment as defined within the Army Operating Concept: increased velocity and momentum of human interaction and events; potential for overmatch; proliferation of weapons of mass destruction; spread of advanced cyberspace and counterspace capabilities; and demographics and operations among populations and in cities and complex terrain.Multiechelon EventsAt the core of NTC training is the development of the individual soldier, airman, sailor or Marine. Rotations are multiechelon events in which focus is applied to the development of leaders, from fire teams through brigade level and beyond, who must prevail in conditions of ambiguity. Training for the unknown and unknowable, the 14-day rotation delivers leaders who have improved their ability to think fast; make sound decisions; exercise disciplined initiative; and conduct Mission Command in a tough, realistic and complex training environment. In the end, the NTC trains leaders not what to think but how to think—and win—in a complex world.Integral to this process are dedicated, professional and experienced observer/coach trainers from the NTC’s Operations Group who are embedded with the training units down to platoon/section level. Utilizing the instrumentation system and tactical analysis feedback facilities based out of the NTC’s so-called Star Wars building, observer/coach trainers are able to provide timely and qualitative feedback formally and informally through the after-action review process, accelerating unit and leader growth and development.The effect of a rotation will not stop on the last training day, however, as the Operations Group provides each rotational unit with a comprehensive take-home package that assists with post-rotation assessments. The package enables leaders at every echelon to make informed decisions about those individual and collective tasks that require additional training beyond the rotation.As a cornerstone of our nation’s defense, we must be prepared to accomplish any mission and win in any environment. The NTC is a critical component of the process to achieve that outcome. The center’s decisive action training environment is a strategic resource that ensures we can win in a complex world, providing trained and ready units that, in the words of the Army Operating Concept, are able to “integrate the efforts of multiple partners, operate across multiple domains, and present our enemies and adversaries with multiple dilemmas.” The NTC provides that level of certainty in our requirement to provide a force able to rapidly adapt to emerging threats in a multidimensional world, here and now.