By Sgt. 1st Class Gary CooperNovember 21, 2013
Approximately 70 selected 3rd Sustainment Command (Expeditionary) Soldiers traveled south to Fort Campbell for nine days to execute an Early Entry Command Post Deployment Exercise, or EECP DEPEX.
The Sustainers departed Fort Knox in a convoy Oct. 29th to set up the EECP at Fort Campbell.
"Originally called force package one, the EECP concept was developed after the 3rd ESC disaster relief deployment to Haiti in 2010, to better respond to challenges faced there," said Maj. Christopher Wright, 3rd ESC Support Operations Surface Mobility Officer-in-charge. "We created the capability for a force to deploy within 96 hours, capable of managing logistics for a corps sized element while the rest of the unit prepares to deploy and follow on shortly after."
Col. Christopher Wicker, Deputy Commander of the 3rd ESC, said the 3rd ESC is the first sustainment command in the regular army with this capability.
"We are sharing this design with the other Sustainment Commands, so that if one of them gets tagged for a mission, they can help out their corps," said Wicker. "If they follow this model they will be close, and they can adjust fire from there depending on the mission."
While the deployment exercise was designed to simulate the rapid setup of the EECP in response to a natural disaster, Wicker believes the training will pay dividends the next time the unit deploys.
"It's the difference between studying the playbook in the off season, and having a scrimmage with full pads in the preseason. You can only get so much out of a book, but with this exercise we figure out what we're good at, and what we need to improve on."
Wright also expects the exercise to benefit future deployments.
"The preparation for a rapid deployment and the preparation for a named operation require many of the same actions, from movement to actual logistical support once we've arrived," said Wright. "I think future movements will go much more smoothly because of what we've done for this exercise."
Along with simulated events during the exercise, the Soldiers encountered real-world problems, including a flat tire during the initial movement, and a partially flooded tent during a rain storm.
"I'm glad that it showed us a trouble area, said Wicker. "It showed us that we ought to not have sensitive things in certain areas of the tent, and that if water gets in, you need to unplug the electronics and move them. We did a great job of reacting to our own little natural disaster, and next time we'll be better prepared."
The Sustainers returned from Fort Campbell to Fort Knox Nov. 6th by convoy.