FORT HUNTER LIGGETT, Calif. - "You have gained my trust," said Akap Jomaily, Mayor of the small and very economically challenged village of Niscoln, to Sgt. 1st Class Christopher Walters and 2nd Lieutenant Mathew Wisniewski. What was thought would be a tragedy for the 339th Military Police Company of Davenport, Iowa, turned out a triumph; at least for this notional scenario it was.
Walters is the 2nd platoon sergeant for the 339th, and Wisniewski is 2nd Platoon Leader. They and 70 other members of the Army Reserve's quick-reaction police force rolled in a total of 21 armored security vehicles and up-armored Humvee's, and set up on Base Camp Schoonover, Fort Hunter Liggett, Calif. They quickly learned to navigate the back roads and burrows. Moving from village to village on mission after mission, the MPs battle to meet the standards and make right what is wrong. The unit is taking full advantage of the real world knowledge the Combat Support Training Exercise has to offer.
"The significance is this is exactly what we do real world, said Capt. John Michael Burmon, commander of the 339th. "Actually going out there and meeting these people and trying to build these relationships in this environment is going to set us up for success down range. Because that's exactly what we're going to have to do."
The Combat Support Training Exercise 91 13-01 is planned and coordinated by the 91st Training Division (Operations) at Fort Hunter Liggett, Calif. CSTX gives participating units and opportunity to rehearse military maneuvers and tactics such as base security, convoy operations, and battle reaction drills during simulated enemy attacks as well as apply their military occupational specialty skills in a theater of operations. The exercise provides realistic training to units to successfully meet the challenges of an extended and integrated battlefield.
As the quick reaction force (QRF) for base camp Schoonover, and with only about half of the company at the CSTX, the 339th must be ready and on call 24 hours a day. At any time there could be a disturbance or some type of attack on the camp, as it could be in real-world environment. "As soon as we hear something on the radio we spool 'em up, and get 'em down the road before the camp even knows we're coming in."
Police mentorship training is also a part of the exercise as well as the Niscoln scenario. These are joint missions where the 339th would team with foreign police or security forces to help them prepare to take control or security of their own town or country.
"They would like to establish a police force," said Walters, after a small box of money and what could be drugs were found in an abandoned building. "They gave us some information. Possible drugs and money were found in one of the buildings that people from out of town were using. They come in, drop their stuff off or pick it up and leave. They (Niscoln Villagers) want to get their farming community back up and running and their markets up and running."
The convoy of soldiers also successfully maneuvered notional obstacles to and from the designate village of Niscoln. A hail of insurgent bullets rained down on them from a hill, only to be wiped out by a .50 caliber machine gun from one of the ASVs. A strategically place improvised explosive device was placed in the roadway. The 339th played hard, prevailed, fueled up the vehicles, and proudly headed back to base camp anticipating the next challenge.
"They did outstanding," said a Team Mentor, or observer, for the exercise who spoke on condition of anonymity. "They executed according to the plan. They accomplished their mission. They found the cache and built a rapport with the mayor and the police commander."