Engineer team works up a SWEAT at Fort Hunter Liggett
March 29, 2013
FORT HUNTER LIGGETT, Calif. - Plenty of sweat was shed in the field at Warrior Exercise 2013, but these subject matter experts were dealing with more than the heat of the California sun when they conducted an in-depth SWEAT-MSO assessment.
Standing for sewage, water, electricity, academics, trash, medical, safety and other, a SWEAT-MSO assessment is a mission performed by U.S. forces in areas of operation worldwide, to assess the needs of a local population by meeting with local leaders. The result is a list of plausible projects for local communities to choose from through the command emergency response program. For this exercise, they assessed the needs of a village, just outside Base Camp Milpitas, represented by one of Fort Hunter Liggett's four MOUT, or Military Operations On Urban Terrain, sites.
The mission was led by soldiers of the 844th Engineer Battalion, who took every measure to ensure realism in the training. They cleared routes, performed reconnaissance, and planned attack scenarios and vehicle staging. The 13-vehicle team included experts in the fields of security, engineering, dentistry, preventive medicine, veterinary medicine and education -- the same as would take part in a real-world mission.
Each member of the team brought civilian experience to the mission.
"Many of us are engineers in the real world. So it's kind of exciting to take your civilian skills and cross-deck them in with the military side of it, which is the beauty of the Army Reserve and why we are so valuable," said Capt. Jeffery Jones, S3 of the 844th Engineer Battalion from Knoxville, Tenn., who helped plan the mission. "We covered all the positions with [subject matter experts] from various ranks ranging from E4 to O5 who do this in the civilian world as well. It's a true team of experts."
The team met with "residents" of the training village, including the mayor, the head of the police force and the doctor. As with a real-world situation, the team received the most requests for food, fresh water and medical supplies.
"I thought it went pretty smooth," said Jones. "We interacted with just about all the villagers. We developed a pretty good idea about what we think they need, and then we collate that with what we think we can provide."
Though the team was provided with military police security support, they had to draw a fine line between keeping soldiers on the mission safe, while not appearing too aggressive during the friendly meeting with village leaders. However, the possibility of ambush was a key aspect in preparation for the mission.
"Lots of times we focus solely on the tactical side of training, and we forget to focus on the second and third order of effects side of the house. So the focus for us is to go in, assess the village, but make sure we don't promise anything we can't deliver," said Jones. "So in this respect, we didn't get attacked, but that's OK. There's been plenty of other training associated with that. Here, we really focused on the interaction with the people and what the end state of the mission was."
Fort Hunter Liggett is the largest installation in the Army Reserve, with more than 160,000 acres of mountains, valleys, rivers, plains and forests. It provides ideal maneuver areas and state of the art training facilities.
The 91st Training Division, headquartered at Fort Hunter Liggett, trains and assesses Army Reserve units, and supports training for joint, combined and active Army forces. Thousands of Soldiers and dozens of units from around the country participated in the March Warrior Exercise, which provides realistic training for military maneuvers and tactics such as base security, convoy operations and battle reaction drills during simulated enemy attacks.