By T. Anthony BellAugust 23, 2013
FORT LEE, Va. (Aug. 22, 2013) -- The 23rd Quartermaster Brigade end-of-cycle field training exercise made its return to Fort Lee Aug. 12 with a four-day event held at Training Area 27.
More than 350 Soldiers from the brigade's three battalions participated in the training designed to test their technical and tactical skills in a field environment.
The exercise formerly dubbed Sustainment Warrior Field Training Exercise had taken place at Fort A.P. Hill since 2010 and included students from the Transportation, Quartermaster and Ordnance schools in a large-scale joint training effort. A.P. Hill is a U.S. Army Regional Training Center installation located roughly 60 miles north of Fort Lee.
Lt. Col. Christopher Robertson, commander, 266th QM Battalion, said he had an extensive opportunity to observe the training and was impressed with what he saw.
"We were very satisfied with the results," he said. "The Soldiers were able to practice their warrior tasks and battle drills under a scenario-driven event that they weren't privy to beforehand. The training also allowed them to work with junior officers who they will be exposed to in their first unit of assignment. The Soldiers performed beyond expectations."
Roughly 24 junior officers from the Army Logistics University's Basic Officer Leaders Course also participated in the exercise. Additionally, more than 20 brigade cadre oversaw the exercise activities.
Robert Elder, 266th QM Bn. training coordinator, said the Fort Lee relocation reaps benefits for the brigade because it's less costly but also because it allows leaders increased accessibility.
"The training was moved from A.P. Hill to Fort Lee because it's closer, and we save transportation costs," he said. "But moving the exercise also provided commanders with the opportunity to see more of the training, allowing more of their input to make it more effective for the Soldiers."
The relocation of quartermaster training is the third such move this year. Two months ago, the Transportation School moved its field training from A.P. Hill, and the Ordnance School did the same in April.
Now that all field training has been relocated to Fort Lee, it is no longer integrated. Each school is responsible for its own training. From his perspective, Robertson said the training is better -- not necessarily because its more manageable but because "we have reinvigorated the exercise and brought it up to date with the focus that the Training and Doctrine Command and the U.S. Army has set for the future. That focus is to train in a decisive-action training environment."
From a logistical viewpoint, Elder said the FTX went about as well as expected, and he is encouraged it can build on its first-time successes.
"It's been a lot of work getting everyone on board -- getting the commanders and first sergeants to understand the concept," he said, "but the training was effective. It was a great pilot, and I think there were a lot of lessons learned here. The next one will be even better."
The exercises, which requires participants to stay overnight at field sites, is slated to take place three times a month and can accommodate more than 400 Soldiers.