ABOARD U.S.S. PREBLE - Chief Warrant Officer Shane Terrell (left), from San Antonio, a targeting officer for Headquarters and Headquarters Battery, 41st Fires Brigade, conducts coordination with Navy Lt. Junior Grade Randy Reichenbach, of Dallas, a strike officer for the guided missile destroyer, U.S.S. Preble, Jan. 27.

SAN DIEGO, Calif.-Today's military leaders are constantly seeking ways to improve training programs for Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, and Marines, utilizing the most current and emerging technology.

In January 2011, Soldiers from the 41st Fires Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division traveled to Naval Amphibious Base Coronado, Calif., where they participated in Fleet Synthetic Training-Joint 11-3 with the U.S.S. Ronald Reagan Strike Group as it prepared for its deployment in the Pacific.

The program, known as FST-J, is the US Navy's latest training program using technology to train and prepare leaders and their staff to deploy in support of joint operations.

The program started in December 2005 as a means to prepare a ship's staff for deployment.

In the beginning, the training exercises focused specifically on naval operations. As the training program continued to develop, in 2008 FST became a joint exercise, adding participants from both the Army and Air Force.

The FST-J 11-3 scenario is set in the Pacific North-West and revolves around the Kingdom of Purple invading the Kingdom of Black, a key U.S. ally.

A combined task force deployed to the theater of operations initially as a show of force. After negotiations failed, and the Kingdom of Black refused to withdraw, the task force transitioned into full spectrum operations in an attempt to remove the hostile forces from Purple land.

As a part of the combined task force, Soldiers of the 41st Fires Bde. took responsibility for providing indirect fire support to coalition forces land component command operations (CFLCC).

"As a member of CFLCC, the 41st Fires Bde. is responsible for providing time sensitive targets and deep fires in support of joint operations," said Maj. James Schwartz, a native of Kentwood, La, brigade fire support coordinator for the 41st Fires Bde. "The FST-J exercise provides an opportunity for Soldiers and planners on the brigade staff to train in a joint setting utilizing our (battle command systems) equipment. Soldiers are required to coordinate and integrate joint fires utilizing AFATDS (advance field artillery tactical data system), JADOCS (joint automated deep operations coordination system), and CPOF (command post of the future). Today's battlefield is a joint environment and Soldiers must understand how to operate in it to be successful."

During FST-J 11-3, Soldiers from the 41st Fires Bde. had the opportunity to not only train with members of the strike group, but also tour several of the ships, to include the U.S.S. Ronald Reagan and U.S.S. Preble, and observe the exercise from their location.

While on the guided missile destroyer, U.S.S. Preble, Chief Warrant Officer Shane Terrell, the brigade targeting officer for 41st Fires Bde., along with Sgt. 1st Class James Cookman, a native of Rosebud, Mont., brigade FECC operations sergeant for HHB, 41st Fires Bde., were able to observe the fire mission processing and simulated execution of both TLAM (Tomahawk land attack missile) and 127mm naval gun fire.

"The Navy's naval fire control system is very similar to the Army's AFATDS," Cookman said. "Having an understanding of how the Navy's fire mission processing occurs allows me to see the similarities in mission processing between the Army and the Navy, while gaining an appreciation of the inherent difficulty in maintaining accuracy while firing from a moving ship."

"The FST-J program continues to grow," said Keith Evans, director for the Joint Expeditionary Warfare Laboratory (JEWL). "In 2010 we held two exercises. For (fiscal year) 2011, we currently have five exercises scheduled. The cost of holding a synthetic exercise is just a fraction of what it costs to deploy the entire strike group to sea for just one day. As we continue to strive for fiscal responsibility with reduced budgets, exercises such as these will only expand."

"FST-J is an excellent opportunity for the Army, from battalion to corps level, to train in a joint environment." said Chief Warrant Officer Sean Schmitt, a native of Grant, Ala., FECC targeting officer for HHB, 41st Fires Bde., "The FST-J has served as a great exercise for fires brigades, and it may also be beneficial for a maneuver unit's staff to develop their war fighting functions as well."

Page last updated Fri July 22nd, 2011 at 12:16