News & Media

On the topic of TEWTS

By: Euan Ferguson

  10.00 AM 4 September, 2012

Views: 3321

A "TEWT" is a Tactical Exercise Without Troops.  TEWTS are a very effective way of illustrating a tactical situation in the classroom or in an improvised field location without having to assemble, organise and maneuvre resources.  One example of conducting a TEWT is where a tactical situation is depicted on the classroom floor.  The situation can be set up on a sand table, on a large scale floor map, or with the aid of toy vehicles, earthmoving plant, aircraft etc.  Students can then gather around the depiction and gain an over view of the tactical situation.  A second way of delivering a TEWT is to use a piece of real ground.  For example, it may be an area of interest to the south and west of a settlement where you are simulating the effect of a wind change.  In this case, students may be required to undertake a reconnaissance by foot or in vehicle.  Students will gain a direct appreciation of the terrain, risks and advantageous points in the landscape.  This method of TEWT takes a little more planning, but provides the benefit of a real time appreciation of an actual piece of ground.

Generally a TEWT is broken into a number of Phases.  The first phase is to set the situation and brief students (as in the first part of a SMEACS briefing).  It may be appropriate to have this initial brief written out so that it can be handed to each student.  This briefing stage should cover the terrain, key features (including fire stations, airbases and incident control facilities), factors affecting fire behaviour (including current and forecast weather), incident behaviour and current resources or resource availability.  The TEWT can be conducted as a whole group, or the facilitator can assign particular roles to students or to small syndicate groups of students.  During the TEWT, as the incident develops, these assigned roles may change as the incident moves from initial attack to escalated response, initial command and control arrangements through to the establishment of a full incident management team.

The next phases are to introduce different tactical situations (simulating the escalation of an incident).  Again, these can be issued verbally or be written.  (The advantages of having it written, is that you can repeat the TEWT with another group of students in another time and place).  At each phase, students are allowed time to assess the new situation and to discuss how they would organise resources to best meet control objectives.  The facilitator can then draw out responses from each student, allowing time for discussion on differences in tactics and approach.

In a more formal style of TEWT, students may be required to write out a SMEACS briefing that indicates what they would be including in their briefing to resources under their command.  The TEWT can have numerous phases.  Each phase will present a new or updated scenario.  For a full afternoon TEWT, this may be as many as four or five phases that may cover from pre-incident preparedness, initial response, escalated attack, the first incident management team planning period, the effect of the wind change, the second IMT planning period and so on.  For a shorter TEWT there will generally be time for only two or three scenarios.  The facilitator, or instructor, plays a crucial role.  The intent of a TEWT is not so much that students be "lectured".  Rather, that students are allowed time to develop their own (either individual or small group) response to each scenario as it is presented.  This is an instructional process called "third person learning".  That is, each student or syndicate response is presented to the whole group, discussed and analysed.  A lot of emphasis is placed on the group discussion of individual student or syndicate responses.  The facilitator then summarises the discussion and suggests the "best" course of action.    

TEWTS are an excellent way of learning from (a simulated) experience.  Students recognise the importance of being able to look over a broader tactical situation.  In other words, students are forced to adopt a "higher level view".  More importantly, TEWTS allow challenging scenarios to be followed through and managed by students in order to test them for unusual or unexpected turns in an incident.  The value of TEWTS is that they can be done with minimal preparation and few training aides, or, they can be a comprehensive exercise.  In the lead up to this fire season, I strongly suggest you consider using a TEWT to assist your preparedness for incidents in your local area.  

"By endurance, we conquer."

- Shakleton Family motto

Last Updated: 10 December 2015