By CourtesyNovember 11, 2017
During Warfighter Exercise (WFX) 18-2 the I Corps G6 team is using the training exercise to ensure they are able to support and provide the critical communications infrastructure to prepare units for decisive action missions.
I Corps' most recent warfighter exercise is designed to enhance real-world readiness. This is no small task for the G6 section where they train in a real-world environment establishing and maintaining communications networks throughout I Corps from the ground up.
"You have to anticipate how fast units are entering the theater of operations and who needs to talk and when. Setting up critical communications is extremely important. You really can't get that training value in any other type of environment besides at these types of exercises," said MSG Allen Fontenot, Service Systems Support (SSS) Sergeant Major. "When using the PACE (Primary, Alternate, Contingency, and Emergency) plan of setting up initial communications, everything has to be working together at the same time so we can hit the ground running in a combat environment. The first things we need to set up are out of necessity, and then we branch out to refine our process."
The I Corps G6 team has a multitude of responsibilities during training and real-world exercises. Within the preparation timeline, the unit mustered, conducted pre-deployment tasks, and prepared key personnel and equipment for movement to a forward location. Due to their critical roles, much of the section is required to deploy to exercises far before the rest of the unit to ensure follow on sections are up-and-running.
"Everyone has a role to play in this exercise, no one person makes it effective, everyone in the G6 combines to pull all the necessary actions and equipment together whether that be network engineers, current operations, or cyber security." said Fontenot. "Everyone on our team is extremely willing to work and support these missions. Active-duty and reserve Soldiers, Airmen and all work in our section to do their part in providing communications infrastructure to support the fight."
Besides ensuring that overall communications networks stay online, the G6 is also responsible for all day-to-day communication responsibilities.
"We are both proactive and reactive. We will go above and beyond with our efforts to make sure everyone at Warfighter exercise18-2 can communicate properly." said Spc. Victor Castaneda, a cable installer and maintainer with the 304th Sustainment Brigade out of March Air Force Base. "We go to all the sections, checking on connections and making sure things are running smoothly, but we also answer help-desk inquires when sections need assistance with communications. I love going around fixing problems, we go and fix problems before they turn into bigger ones."
Castaneda, a reserve Soldier from Southern California volunteered to help support this exercise. "Coming to work on active duty, seeing everyone work together, seeing a Sergeant Major running cable, reminds you every one is still a Soldier."
Working at the Corps level also presents a large number of challenges and benefits, especially for those younger soldiers new to the Army.
"It is a challenge." said Castaneda "Learning all the separate sections and what each one specifically needs to succeed."
Fontenot agrees, and sees the challenges as rewarding.
"My soldiers also get a better appreciation of what each element is doing within the fight, how we need to personally support each war fighting function." Fontenot sees the whole exercise as a puzzle, but instead of each section being its own piece, all of the sections make up one big picture.
As technology and conditions on the battlefield change, one thing remains constant, the need to complete a successful mission. In order to make this happen, I Corps G6 will always find a way to meet the communication infrastructure needed, so combat units can remain ready to shoot and move.