Nutter keeps the lights on at Austere Challenge 09
July 15, 2009
FORT MONMOUTH, N.J. -- During Austere Challenge 2009, the power grid and generators presented extreme challenges that would have negatively affected the exercise if not for the efforts of Robert C. Nutter, project engineer System of Systems Division for Project Manager Mobile Electric Power (PM MEP).
"The 7th Army command post last year was 34,000 square feet, and it was a power distribution nightmare," said Col. Christopher Boyd, PM Command Post. "Rob worked with warrant officers over there in the unit and totally redid the power grid to the extent that power was eventually one of our success stories in this year's 50,000 square foot TOC (Tactical Operations Center)."
Boyd awarded Nutter a commander's coin and certificate of appreciation for his work at Austere Challenge 2009. The awards were presented on June 9 at the Joint User Interoperability Communications Exercise site in Fort Monmouth, N.J.
Nutter also received an Employee of the Second Quarter Award for his commendable service from the Program Executive Office Command, Control, Communications-Tactical (PEO C3T).
"The one thing that most of us forget about is the power problems, the power required for a TOC," Boyd said. "After all these years I've come to learn that without power those generators and distribution plans just don't work."
Austere Challenge 2009 is an annual joint exercise that took place this spring in GrafenwAfAPhr, Germany. It enables U.S. European Command (USEUCOM) service components to plan and execute full spectrum operations as a Joint Task Force Headquarters (JTF HQ). During Austere Challenge '09, U.S. Army Europe/7th Army was assigned the role as the JTF HQ, demonstrating its capabilities to rapidly organize and execute missions in a realistic crisis scenario.
In Germany, Nutter was PM MEP's representative. He assisted 7th Army with its power during a digital set-up exercise that precluded Austere Challenge 09. Nutter and his team provided technical assistance and training on MEP modeling software to the unit and its commanders. In addition, Nutter provided guidance on improving power routes and distribution inside the command post.
Last year during Austere Challenge 2008, Nutter observed several distribution challenges which led him and his team to improve the power and distribution grid for the 2009 exercise.
"They had high power items [in 2008] that drew a lot of power on the same electrical circuit as items that really needed to be up, like network servers, and so they were seeing brown outs and other problems," Nutter said.
He also discovered that products designed for use in Europe were being used on a US-type of power circuit, which requires different power requirements and connectors.
"Everyone who has ever bought a travel converter knows about this," Nutter said.
Nutter was also responsible for making sure that the unit was aware of its local resources and capabilities. Every unit has generator mechanics, and experienced logistics assistance representatives at bases throughout the world who are trained in power, air conditioning and heating.
With the lessons learned from Austere Challenge 2008, Nutter and his team were prepared for the 2009 exercise. They helped the maintenance chiefs, mechanics and the generator technicians with power set up and consulted on new configurations and requirements. They also used MEP modeling software, which not only models power grids but allows the user to move tent configurations around to increase efficiency and effectiveness, Nutter said.
"The most efficient way (of setting up power) may be one generator for everybody, but in some cases if you've got an area that needs to be by itself it makes more sense for them to have their own generator," Nutter said. "It's not the most efficient way, but it's the most effective for the operational scenario."