Reading Time: 17 minutes

20 0145 APR 2030
NATO Training Centre
Undisclosed Location

To: Jackson Randolf, Col. (Ret.)
From: Everyn Randolf, 2nd Lt.
Subject: Evergreen

How the hell did you do this Grandpa? I’m anxious, excited, and–not going to lie–somewhat terrified. I’m really not sure where one emotion stops and the other starts. 

I know that’s not something grunts usually share with each other. 

Dad wouldn’t understand. He never knew to view a mountain for its logistical challenges rather than its majesty; or to see a towering building as limitless firing positions rather than beautiful architecture. I guess some things about war are just evergreen.

Just a few more simulated training sessions in the COG-X and we will be in-country.

– Evie

The bunks in her isolated planning bay weren’t much. Still, they were more comfortable than what she slept on throughout her infantry training at Fort Benning, Georgia. The Appalachian Mountains nearly broke her during Ranger School, but she came out the other side stronger. 

“It was all worth it,” she thought as she reminisced on the long road that brought her here – here…a 7×8 metre colourless room with digital maps of her unit’s future operating area. Erbyk was a small country marked by vast hills, dense trees, and punishing terrain. But also by Jome: a towering city with a population of just under 100,000. 

Jome was touted by the Erbykian government and allies alike for its high-tech and interconnected infrastructure. Their national economy was largely predicated on technology exports. But it was being infiltrated and pillaged by the state-affiliated hackers from Erbyk’s competitors – one of which was Sermania.

While the economies of the world remained intertwined, that’s about all that was globally connected. Following the rise of nationalism in the U.S. and abroad, and the painfully slow, but ultimately final, BREXIT in the U.K., global partnerships dissolved. Alliances were in name only. The U.S. continued its strong relationship with nations in the Indo-Asia Pacific. But alliances like NATO were loosely held together in name more than function. 

Then March 17, 2030 happened. Nowhere near as shocking to the American psyche as September 11, 2001 or December 7, 1941. It was closer, perhaps, to June 28, 1914 or August 2, 1990. On March 17th, Sermania invaded Erbyk, a member of the all-but-paper alliances none had come to call on since the early days of the Global War on Terror. 

And now, just over a month later, Everyn Randolf was laying on her bunk inside a cold and cramped metal planning bay of a barracks in an undisclosed high-tech training facility just a short flight from the on-going fighting in Erbyk. 

Soon, she and her platoon from the 1st Battalion, 23rd Infantry Regiment would be fighting for their survival against an enemy they barely knew existed six months earlier.

“Isn’t that how it goes,” Everyn thought. “Who was it that said, ‘War’s God’s way of teaching Americans geography’? Twain? Churchill? Probably neither. We credit those two with every other quote. But it’s true, isn’t it? Chances are Grandpa didn’t know the difference between Sunni and Shia, nor Taliban and Al-Qaeda, before they started shooting at him. War makes anthropologists, historians, and statesmen of us all.” 

Everyn felt an instant release of pressure the minute her finger hit send on the direct message to her grandfather. Coming back into the moment, she checked the embedded biometric monitor on her arm. Her Synap sensor reads her current BMI, VO2 max, blood pressure, and other vital signs. All soldiers have Synap sensors installed prior to their Basic Training – it is an omnipresent, narrow artificial intelligence tutor.

The door to their planning bay made a hiss as it opened, and Everyn exited on her way to meet the rest of her platoon in the COG-X trainer.


Four hours into the mission and the chaos was breaking her ability to differentiate between the sounds of the friendly and the enemy indirect fire. That was except for when the rounds snapped past her head; those, she knew, weren’t friendly. She hadn’t dismounted soon enough, but the situation had started going downhill long before that. 

Her company conducted an air infiltration on Air Force C-19 Navigator II aircraft – the newest generation replacement of the C-17 Globemaster III. The C-17 was expected to last into the 2030s, but the timeline shifted due to rapid improvement of vehicle capabilities with the push to increase protection to meet the needs of every 1980s-kid’s dream tank-war against the Russians. The Army needed an air frame capable of carrying all variants of the Next Generation Combat Vehicle (NGCV). This included both the M2025 Freeman (replacing the Bradley Fighting Vehicle) and the M5 Buford (replacing the M1 Abrams). The Navigator II could deliver vehicles, cargo and personnel into contested combat environments. 

“Our mission is to suppress enemy targets in Sector A of Jome, specifically focusing on buildings 474 and 475, in order to provide freedom of maneuver for 1st Platoon, the Company Decisive Operation, to clear Sector A.” 

Lieutenant Randolf recited the mission and intent in her head as she thought about how much conditions had changed in the previous four hours. Right from the start, the mission was botched. Undetected Sermanian anti-aircraft, aerial denial (A2AD) weapons destroyed BLUE Platoon’s C-19 on infil – along with all of their Freeman Fighting Vehicles and personnel. So much for an infiltration and a strong reserve. 1st Platoon (RED) and, her own, 2nd Platoon (WHITE) each landed at their geographically opposed LZs – RED approximately 30km south of Jome and WHITE 22km northwest of Sector A.

“RED 6 this is WHITE 6, over” Everyn spoke as she keyed over the company net. 

“This is RED 6, send it.” Abe’s voice rang over the net into Everyn’s secured Bluetooth earpiece.

“RED 6 – WHITE is approximately thirty-mikes from being in position.”

“Roger, thirty mikes.”

“WHITE 6 out.”

Everyn unkeyed her radio, releasing her finger from the dimpled button on her headphones. The headsets of previous generations were clunky, over the ear configurations that required different tethered connections to mounted, vehicular radios and dismounted radios. Her headphones, also doubling as ear-protection, were noise-cancelling ear plugs. They automatically connected, via secured bluetooth technology, and switched between her amplified vehicular communications network and her dismounted radio. Even her dismounted radio communications maximised secured and encrypted satellite cellular technology similar to the early 21st century push-to-talk cell phones. The Total Interoperable Communications Secured Network (TICSNet) finally brought military communication technology to the level of commercial technology. Gone were the days of average citizens carrying better communication technology in the palm of their hand than the Armed Forces was able to procure through the military industrial complex. Of course, this was because there was no more military industrial complex of which to speak.

When the U.S. Congress passed the Competitive Exchange of Applicable Security Enterprises (CEASE) Act, they disbanded the military industrial complex. Defence spending mobilised the free-market to produce military technology. This seemed like an impossibility in 2018, with companies like Microsoft and Google breaking contracts with the U.S. Government over concerns that their technology would be used for killing. But the destabilisation of Europe in the 2020s, the rise of Chinese perceived power, and rising concern over Iran and DPRK nuclear technologies, persuaded companies that the evil they knew was in their better business interest than the evils they didn’t. Suddenly, “do no evil” became “do less evil.” 

Everyn flipped up her optical visor and looked at the Apple iPad-inspired command console in her Freeman. The GPS overlay showed her vehicles’ positions relative to their originally plotted support-by-fire (SBF) position. As she looked out her hatch and then back at the screen, she saw that the micro-terrain on the ground and fields of fire made this position untenable. Everyn connected a secure video chat on the console with her senior squad leader and platoon sergeant. With all leaders simultaneously viewing the map imagery on their individual command consoles, they determined a new position approximately 10km south of their location.

Everyn relayed the change to her company commander and to RED Platoon over the company net and via a digital overlay sent from her command console. While RED Platoon loitered in their attack position, Everyn deployed her FQ-12 ‘Fly’ – third generation replacement to the RQ-11 Raven UAS – to conduct a reconnaissance of the new position. Approximately the size of an average human hand, the Fly had self-destruct technology, high resolution real-time and still-photo enabled imagery, and connected to the principal’s Synap and command console. 

Everyn and her squad leaders watched the Fly’s real-time imagery and discussed their new positions. Everyn used the stylus to mark where she wanted each vehicle and their new sectors of fire on the imagery. She transmitted her drawn overlay from the Fly imagery to their digital maps on the consoles in each FFV and to each leader’s optical visor. WHITE Platoon moved to occupy their new positions, and the Fly returned to Everyn’s vehicle while en route. 

WHITE occupied their position and each leader viewed their graphical DOCTEMP on their consoles and via digital overlays on the actual terrain laid out through their optical visors. The visors were a flip down function of their helmets that also provided target acquisition, laser technology synched to their weapons-systems, and both day and night-vision capabilities. 

WHITE occupied their position and each leader viewed their graphical Doctrinal Template (DOCTEMP) on their consoles and via digital overlays on the actual terrain laid out through their optical visors. The visors were a flip down function of their helmets that also provided target acquisition, laser technology synched to their weapons-systems, and both day and night-vision capabilities. 

“RED 6 this is WHITE 6, we are in position.”

“WHITE 6 this is RED 6, Roger. BREAK…”

 “…APACHE 6 this is RED 6, permission to initiate our attack.” 

“RED 6 this is APACHE 6, Roger. Initiating fires on Targets AB0005 and AB0007. When complete we will fire AB0006 for your obscuration. BREAK…”

“…WHITE 6, Targets AB0005 and 0007 are your trigger to initiate direct fires in Sector A, concentrating on Buildings 474 and 475.”

As soon as the 120mm mortars made impact, WHITE Platoon initiated fires, engaging known, suspected, and likely targets. As RED crossed Phase Line Florida, the far right (south) vehicle shifted fire north of target reference point #4. This synchronized dance of fire and manoeuvre continued, seamlessly, for approximately 15 minutes as RED established a foothold in Building 470 on the south end of Sector A. 

RED sustained heavy casualties both in their breach operations and due to a house borne IED. Before they were able to secure the area and conduct medical evacuation operations, the enemy mounted a complex attack from surrounding buildings, using anti-tank (AT) weaponry to destroy the lead and rear Freemans and trap RED in a kill-zone. Enemy A2AD capabilities denied RED Platoon’s ability to establish air superiority and evacuate casualties. 

The crises were mounting, but WHITE Platoon wasn’t caught in quicksand yet. With BLUE Platoon destroyed and RED Platoon combat ineffective, there was no reserve and WHITE suddenly went from a shaping operation to the decisive operation. Conditions had changed – WHITE Platoon now had to manoeuvre into Sector A to secure RED Platoon’s position, clear the area, and destroy the enemy. 

Everyn maneuvered her platoon from their SBF position to their new avenue of approach toward their plotted attack position. Her commander’s vehicle was destroyed along with RED Platoon. Taking inventory of the situation, shecommunicated the change to her higher headquarters – now being the Battalion Tactical Operations Center (TOC). Everyn plotted their new route with her squad leaders, simultaneously working on the same real-time operational graphics that appeared on their individual digital consoles. 

“Six, this is Seven,” Everyn’s platoon sergeant called over the company net. Her platoon adopted the company net for ease of communication with battalion now that the remainder of her company was either destroyed or combat ineffective. Everyn told RED 6 to handle MEDEVAC operations via the Battalion A&L net and RED’s platoon net. 

“Send it Seven,”

“Six, we have a problem – the bridge collapsed, and my track is stuck.”

The bridges on the outskirts of the cities in Erbyk weren’t constructed to hold the weight of American combat vehicles. Strykers, although heavily modified from their decades of employment in the Middle East and now on their seventh variant upgrade, were the only legacy fleet vehicle – still in use – able to cross these improvised bridges. The Army wasforward-thinking enough to realize that not every vehicle in its fleet needed to sacrifice mobility for protection. And so, the Stryker remained firepower-heavy and protection-light, giving it the opportunity to win a firepower fight when maximizing mobility or fighting from positions of protection. But the Freemans were too heavy, so while her platoon’s first three vehicles managed to cross the bridge over a shallow river, her platoon sergeant’s vehicle was now, literally, stuck in the mud. 

“Seven, leave your crew. You and weapons squad jump track into A-23 vic. BREAK…”

“…Three, this is Six. You and your squad jump track to A-24 to secure the vehicle. If you are able to recover it, then send me a plotted course to meet us at the attack position.”

Both confirmed and, now down a rifle squad and a Freeman, Everyn and her senior squad leader discussed their plan of attack in real time. Surprise went out the window before infil, and it’s hard to concentrate force when you don’t have much force to mass and project. It looked like audacity and tempo were their only friends now. But first, they had to determine the location of the probable line of contact. 

Thanks to graphic overlays marked by RED Platoon during their operations inside Sector A, WHITE Platoon was able to track Sermanian AT weapon system locations. The laser markers attached to each individual and mounted weapon system allowed soldiers to mark an enemy weapon system and communicate it to higher. They then employed satellite laser tracking technologies via the space domain to maintain constant surveillance. This wasn’t a limitless capability, so it was reserved for high payoff targets. With the Sermanian AT threats located on the southern border of Sector A, WHITE Platoon was able to determine that their plotted attack position was, due to range and micro-terrain, outside of the probable line of contact. But before the comfort of that realization could set in, Everyn heard the faint buzz of enemy UAS overhead and indirect fire started to reign down. 

They didn’t own the air – Sermania did. The A2AD threat gave Sermania air superiority, and while RED Platoon had identified the AT threat they had not located the Sermanian A2AD weapon systems. Now enemy UAS had identified WHITE Platoon and the probable line of contact suddenly became a more critical and immediate factor. Before closing up the hatch, Everyn deployed her FQ-11 Fly and called back to her 3rd Squad Leader.

“Three, this is Six. I am de-tethering the Fly from my Synap to yours. You now have command of it. I need you to locate the enemy A2AD in Sector A. We are taking indirect fire.” 

“Six, this is Three – Roger.”

Meanwhile, the rest of WHITE Platoon spread out and moved their vehicles into the thick wooded vegetation just off their planned route. The Battalion TOC – monitoring company net – focused their constant and real time satellite imagery on establishing a point of origin for the indirect fire. When the enemy fired the next set of rounds, the Battalion TOC located the enemy indirect fire and destroyed it with counter-battery fire. With the indirect fire threat eliminated, WHITE Platoon continued moving to their attack position. Just before reaching their position, Everyn’s radio broke in. 

“Six, this is Three. I found what looks like two SA-6s. I am sending imagery and locations to your console now.” 

Everyn looked at her console and saw the imagery and overlay on her graphics of Sector A. It was in fact a SA-6 mobile surface-to-air missile system. She forwarded the imagery and location to Battalion with a call-for-fire mission. She wasn’t in position to observe fires, but WHITE 3 still had control of the Fly. The Fly’s expendable nature and small size meant the Army didn’t require it be considered in air space deconfliction. The beautiful back and forth of ‘Splash Overs and Outs’ began. By the time WHITE Platoon reached their attack position, their fire support had neutralised the A2AD threat. With air superiority now, Everyn initiated her attack with a close air support (CAS) run to destroy the enemy AT threat still being tracked by laser satellite imagery technology. RED Platoon was completely exfiltrated from the objective, so WHITE 6 followed the CAS run with indirect fire on Buildings 474, 475 and two others where they observed enemy activity. She then called for obscuration smoke along the southern edge of the city and began her assault. It was finally coming together…

WHITE Platoon established a SBF position with two of their FFVs and the two rifle squads dismounted. One of the gun teams dismounted and maneuvered with the breach squad. At their last covered and concealed position, WHITE 1 left his automatic rifleman with the gun team and a grenadier. Having established a local SBF, they identified a breach point in the enemy’s defensive perimeter of triple-stand concertina mined-wire. 1st Squad obscured multiple points along the obstacle. The breach element used the low-ground to mask their movement to their selected breach point. The breach team grenadier used his breach strip – a roll of high-explosive engineer tape as an expeditionary and light version of the former anti-personnel obstacle breaching system (APOBS). After detonating the breach strip, they deployed the Squad Anti-mine Mobile (SAM) robot. SAM cleared a path; it was designed like a robotic dog with a horizontal boom coming out from its torso to the left and right that deployed rapidly reciprocating spikes to probe the ground like a mechanical soil aeration machine. SAM created a 5-metre wide, cleared path with markers on the left and right.  

The assault squad bounded through and entered Building 469 – a one-story, ranch-style building on the outskirts of Sector A. To this point, enemy forces had focused heavily on the original breach site from RED Platoon. Now, they were focusing all of their fire on WHITE’s breach site and 2nd Squad in Building 469. 1st Squad’s local SBF and the mounted SBF continued to engage the enemy, allowing the rest of 1St Squad to move through the breach lane and expand it for their FFVs. 

Tethered to her track, Everyn still hadn’t dismounted. She was tied to her communications, command console, and platform. Everyn reasoned that she was trusting her squad leaders, empowering them to accomplish the mission. And to this point, it was working… until it wasn’t. 

She could command from the track while maintaining communications superiority and the ability to picture the battle from her optical visor and command console. But like a football offensive coordinator in the skybox, she was detached from the perspectives, sights, and smells of being down on the field. Leaders need to manage transitions and be at the point of friction where they can best drive operations.

“Six this is One, we have a casualty. JE5987 was hit by enemy small arms fire. It looks like he has a tension pneumothorax. We are moving him back to…”

And then the line went dead. Everyn was looking outside her FFV and tried keying her headset, but nothing happened.

“One this is Six, where are you moving him?”

“One this is Six.”


Frustrated, she slammed her hand down on the top of her FFV. Suddenly she realised her optical visor wasn’t working. She tried turning it off and back on, but it was completely dead. She dropped back down into her FFV to check the command console and that was dead too.

“Wilson, is your radio working?” She yelled to her gunner. 

“No Ma’am – it’s dead. Everything is dead.” 

“EMP,” she thought out loud. “They must have dropped an EMP. Damn, that is desperate. An electromagnetic pulse would knock out all of our communications and electronics, but it would also knock out theirs too,” she mumbled, with Sergeant Wilson hearing. 

“Then why is our vehicle still running, Ma’am?” Wilson asked. 

“These vehicles’ motors and the electronics required to run the vehicle are hardened, but the communications are not. So, everything that was outfitted to go in the vehicle after the fact must have been vulnerable,” Everyn replied, half answering and half speculating.

Everyn popped her head out of the hatch of her FFV, now positioned behind the dismounted SBF just south of the breach lane. Her heart rate was rising, and she could feel her pulse quickening as the blood pulsated through her veins. Her vision started narrowing and she felt like she was being boxed-in; she couldn’t see what was going on. Surveying the battlefield, a once high-tech 21st Century city and now a wasteland of destruction, a wave of helplessness washed over her as she realised she was both cut-off from communication with higher and unable to manoeuvre her unit.

I should have dismounted sooner,” she chided herself. “I should have positioned myself with the assault squad, or at least with the local SBF. And once the foothold was secured, I should have moved there. Now I am completely cut off. Dammit.” But she only allowed herself to feel regret for a brief moment before knowing she had to move. “Where do I need to be now? How will we deconflict fire and manoeuvre  without comms?” That’s when it came to her, a picture – a picture of her grandfather inside his Stryker combat vehicle, holding up a traffic guard flag as he maneuvered with an allied force from the ROK Army during a live fire exercise. 

“Comer, manoeuvre us back to the mounted SBF,” Everyn shouted through the hell hole to her driver. 

“Roger Ma’am,” her driver, Specialist Comer, replied. 

Everyn dismounted and ran to the back of her platoon sergeant’s FFV, quickly briefing a plan for communications. “We might not have signal flags anymore, but we still have VS-17 panels,” she remembered. After briefing her platoon sergeant, who was controlling the mounted SBF, Everyn had her weapons squad leader and the other gun team jump in her track. They maneuvered through the widened breach lane to link-up with 1st and 2nd Squads. Comer positioned the vehicle on the southeast corner of Building 469, using the structure for cover and conducting an urban version of berm drills. 

Mitchell Comer may not be many things – a master infantryman he was not, a world class scholar probably never- but damn could that young man manoeuvre a vehicle. There was nothing he loved more than his FFV, except perhaps talking Lt. Randolf’s ear off until she contemplated kicking him out of the vehicle. Comer instinctively maneuvered the vehicle forward of the southeast corner of Building 469, giving Sgt. Wilson just enough time to engage targets in vicinity of Buildings 474 and 475. They were operating solely on muscle memory built through repetition.

Everyn dismounted, sending her A-21 FFV back to the SBF, and moved toward Building 469. She yelled out “FRIENDLY COMING IN,” and was glad she had, as three of her soldiers had weapons drawn on her and quickly lowered them. She isn’t sure what came over her – considering with the strength of U.S. military communication, the practice of verbal challenge passwords as part of the primary, alternate, contingency, and emergency communications plan had gone by the wayside. Perhaps it was the stories her grandfather told her about his misadventures going from one house to the next during the clearance of Fallujah in the early 2000s. Whatever the reason, she was glad she had thought of it.

“Sgt. Pecan,” she called out to her 1st Squad Leader.

“Ma’am, we have been trying to reach you, but the radios aren’t working,” he quickly replied.

“Yes, and I suspect the enemy’s comms are also knocked out. I think they hit us with an EMP, but we don’t have time to speculate if we are going to take advantage of this closing window of opportunity,” she updated. 

“Get Fuerch and Knapp, change in plans. WHITE 7 is tracking.” Damn was she happy to have an experienced platoon sergeant like Sgt. 1st Class Rob at the SBF, managing their three FFVs – especially now that all comms were knocked out. Over countless field exercises, COG-Xs, and LFXs, she and Rob had built a mutual understanding and ability to read each other’s actions. 

With three of her four squad leaders present, WHITE 3 still with a stuck A-24 vic, Lt. Randolf briefed the new plan. 

“Our comms are out and we are all that is left for effective combat power in Alpha Company.”

“We’re all that ever was, Ma’am,” Sgt. Fuerch interjected – never one to miss an opportunity to promulgate a little inter-platoon rivalry, even in the worst of circumstances. 

With a slight smirk, Everyn continued.

“We need to clear Sector Alpha and establish a strong point defence in Building 474. It provides the best fields of fire, concealment, and stand-off from other buildings, and the ability to look across the culvert into Sector Bravo. Sgt. Knapp, we are splitting up the gun teams. One will go with Sgt. Pecan and the other with Sgt. Fuerch. You will move with Sgt. Fuerch and 2nd Squad. I will move with Sgt. Pecan and 1st Squad. We’ll take turns leap frogging from one building to the next. Once one squad has cleared the building and established an overwatch position, they will engage the enemy with a 15 second rapid rate of fire to signal they are set. That is the trigger for the other squad to move. Alternate is you, or I, move to a window and signal via hand-arm-signal that you are set. Contingency is shouting ‘set’ and with ‘set, confirmed’ as the confirmation. Emergency is to send a runner.”

“We are going to have to keep our movements tight because we are relying on verbal and visual  comms. But we have to maintain tempo via fluidity. Don’t get over-extended, don’t get bogged down. Slow is smooth; smooth is fast.” 

“Take these,” she said, tossing a bag out to her squad leaders that was filled with rocks tied inside strips of VS-17 panels. 

“These are only for use to communicate with WHITE 7 and the mounted SBF. We will use these to signal shift fire. We’ll keep our manoeuvre to the west side of the city, so all of WHITE 7’s shifts will go east. He will confirm shift fire by picking up his rates of fire, from sustained to rapid, for 15 seconds. He will also signal back with his VS-17 panel. Split these up among your team leaders. Within your squads, your communication has to be visual and verbal. VS-17 panels and these rocks are only to be used to communicate with the mounted SBF. As we start, I or Sgt. Knapp will give all signals back to WHITE 7 with a full VS-17 panel. Orange, like the side your rocks are tied with, are for shifts. Alternate is pyro, but we don’t have enough pyro to use for every shift. The pink side of the VS-17 is to call WHITE 7 forward once we are established in our strong point defense. Each of you take one of these rocks,” she said, and she handed rocks tied in shredded WHITE tube socks.

Answering the quizzical looks she received from her squad leaders, she explained, “for once Comer’s lack of discipline and unwillingness to follow basic uniform standards has paid off. And yes, he is currently without socks. Maybe if he keeps his mouth shut for a whole five minutes, Sgt. Wilson will give him a pair of his extra socks.” They all chuckled, but the moment of comic relief fled just as quickly.

“These WHITE rocks are our signal for modern day broken arrow. Only I throw it. If I am hit, command goes to Sgt. Knapp, then Sgt. Pecan, then Sgt. Fuerch. If you throw that, make sure everyone knows to get the f*** down because WHITE 7 is then going to light everyhing up. Here’s to hoping it doesn’t come to that.” Taking a deep breath, she surveyed the faces of her squad leaders to receive some visual feedback. 

“Look guys, I know we aren’t going to clear all of Sector Alpha only moving on the west side, but the primary concentration of enemy was in Buildings 474 and 475. We need to get to those buildings, clearing as many as we can along the way. Once we have established a strong point defense and consolidated our forces, we can clear the rest of the sector one building at a time and hold on for reinforcements. Any questions?”

If it hadn’t been for their multiple field exercises together, she would have taken their silence as a bad omen. But Everyn knew that it was a sign of confidence in the plan and their ability to adapt on the fly, and an acknowledgement that the time for talk was done; now it was just time to ‘do the thing.’

Then everything went black and silent.

“Alpha Company, Alpha Company, report to AAR Facility 1. Report to AAR Facility 1. We will conduct our after-action review in 15 minutes.” The booming voice came over the loudspeakers as the lights came on. “It’s over. It was just an exercise. You are just in the COG-X,” she reminded herself as she sat up and looked left and right to see her platoon and the rest of her company, all alive and all present, unplugging themselves from the Cognitive Trainers and preparing for the after-action review. They weren’t in Erbyk yet, but they would be soon enough, and better prepared than they had been.

About the Author: Thomas (Doug) Meyer is an Army Infantry Officer. A graduate of Norwich University and Georgetown University, Doug holds bachelor’s  degrees in English and History, and  master’s degrees in Organizational Leadership and Policy Management. He is currently a Cyber Strategic Planner on the Joint Staff. Doug is the creator and editor of The Company Leader, an online forum focused on leadership lessons from the tactical level of war.

 The ideas and opinions presented in this paper are those of the author and do not represent an official statement by the U.S. Department of Defense, U.S. Army, or other government entity.

Cover Image: Art by Mitchell Mohrhauser, retrieved from http://mitchsketch.blogspot.com
Image 1: Edge of Tomorrow Concept Art by Jon McCoy, retrieved from http://conceptartworld.com/news/edge-of-tomorrow-concept-art-by-jon-mccoy/
Image 2: Concept Art by Simon Klinz, retrieved from https://www.artstation.com/artwork/1Y2XX