FORT HOOD, Texas - The staff of the 13th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary) conducted a rehearsal of concept drill at the Mission Command Training Center the week of Dec. 9-13 concluding several months of heavy preparation with a brief to the unit's commanding general.The staff was given a mission in August to plan theater deployment operations in response to a combat operation in a fictional combat zone focusing on the Joint Reception, Staging, Onward Movement and Integration process of receiving all the personnel and equipment into the theater of operations and prepare them in order to successfully move out and execute their mission.During the first day of the exercise, the staff received a briefing from the Military Surface Deployment and Distribution Command in order to gain a full understanding of the general duties and responsibilities of United States Transportation Command and SDDC in assisting the deployment of a unit such as the 13th SC(E). In addition, SDDC also provided information on port opening procedures and considerations.Following the SDDC brief, each of the staff sections were provided an opportunity to discuss their roles and responsibilities in regards to the JRSOI process.The following day, the staff picked a high-traffic day of the JRSOI process in order to discuss the wide array of activity that would all be taking place across the operational landscape. Additionally, the staff chose one incoming unit to the theater and discussed the step-by-step process that it would follow during the JRSOI, from arrival at the port to integration into theater."There was a lot of work put into the analysis of the reports, taskings and capabilities associated with this mission," said Brig. Gen. Clark W. LeMasters, Jr., commanding general of the 13th SC(E). "Each of the staff sections looked through the scope of the mission, through the different phases, and you've been able to think through what your role is in this type of operation.
"There's not an SOP out there that dictates no matter the mission or location that you have to place one person here, or two people there," continued LeMasters. "This exercise is about understanding the situation and planning through the considerations that need to be made within each staff section's specific area in order to accomplish the mission of JRSOI."During the week, LeMasters drilled the staff as they discussed, asking each of the staff officers difficult questions, trying to troubleshoot the plans and test if the staff had considered different potential logistical snags that could happen during a JRSOI operation.The staff prepared a large detailed map of the fictional area of operations, illustrating all the logistical nodes, shipment ports, aerial ports of debarkation and units on the ground."Our job, as a staff, is to look for the logistics choke points," said LeMasters. "We have to see and anticipate where there are going to be issues with supplying the combatant commanders on the battlefield, and try to work through the challenges to ensure the warfighters can accomplish their mission."But it's not just about finding the problem; it's about identifying some possible solutions," he continued. "The personnel in this room are the subject matter experts. If one person does not have a solution, I promise there is enough smart people on the staff who can assist to reach a working solution."Throughout the week, I saw different staff sections getting together to collectively solve an individual problem," said LeMasters. "That's called problem solving and that's what this event was about.""This was great training on the METL (Mission Essential Task List) objective," said Col. John L. McCoy, officer in charge of the Support Operations section of the 13th SC(E). "When you train for the first time on any task, it can be difficult. However, the more you train on that task, the easier it is to achieve success. Having now rehearsed this battle drill, if we get called up to provide for this type of mission, our staff will be better prepared to execute."McCoy also said the ROC drill was just as much about training the staff as it was a teambuilding exercise."Exercises like this get the staff to work together to solve a common problem," said McCoy. "With the staff interaction that happened during the exercise, it has brought the staff closer together and it provided an opportunity for the people to grow and learn the roles and responsibilities of each section, as well as the strengths and weaknesses of the staff, better than they did before.""It is clear that we have a wide range of staff experts that bring a tremendous amount of experience from previous operations to this organization," said McCoy.