'The right people at the right time'
January 30, 2012
The 1st Infantry Division is ready to take charge of the mission in eastern Afghanistan later this year, a top Army general said Jan. 28 during a visit to Fort Riley.
"This organization has great history, great people and a great spirit," Gen. David Rodriguez, the commanding general of U.S. Army Forces Command, said. "We have the right people here at the right time and we are very happy about that."
Rodriguez, who is responsible for the manning, equipping and training of hundreds of thousands of U.S. troops, visited the Flint Hills last week to evaluate the "Big Red One" during the on-going command post training exercise, Unified Endeavor 12-01.
UE 12-01 is the largest exercise to take place at Fort Riley since the division returned from Germany in 2006 and is designed to prepare the headquarters to lead a regional command during an expected spring rotation to Afghanistan. The two-week exercise includes thousands of military and civilian personnel from all services and five nations.
"(UE 12-01) is the final element of our training progression for the upcoming rotation to make sure we are fully prepared for the mission and challenges we will face as the division headquarters in Regional Command-East," Brigadier Felix Gedney, 1st Inf. Div. deputy commanding general for transition, said.
Driven by a scenario that simulates day-to-day operations in Afghanistan, the UE 12-01 script is forcing troops to test everything from standard operating procedures to lines of communication.
"We are dealing with a host of challenges," Division Operations Officer Lt. Col. Matt Vanwagenen said. "Through simulations, we are conducting air operations, resupply missions, security operations with our Afghan partners, and operations with the State Department and the government of Afghanistan."
Rodriguez said the division's response to these simulated operations and how well the Soldiers addressed whatever challenges emerged throughout the scenario are helping assure him that the 1st Inf. Div. will be ready to assume the mission in eastern Afghanistan as soon as BRO boots hit the ground.
"We have been at this for many years and we don't have time to wait for them to get ready -- they have to be ready as soon as they step (into Afghanistan)," the general said.
Echoing Rodriguez's thoughts on the importance of the exercise's ability to isolate and fix problems in the division's operation plans, Maj. Gen. William Mayville, the commanding general of the 1st Infantry Division and Fort Riley, said he hopes UE 12-01 will help his team answer one very important question -- is the division doing what it needs to do to get where they need to go?
For the exercise's senior military coordinator, the answer to Mayville's question is certainly yes.
"The Big Red One has never let America down. It is the oldest division in the United States Army, the most decorated division in the United States Army, has fought in every major engagement the Army has ever been engaged in and never once have they failed," Col. Chuck Sexton, commander of the Mission Command Training Program, said. "The 1st Infantry Division is not going to fail now -- rest easy tonight -- they are not going to fail."