By Sgt. Maj. Steven Wolf, First Army Public AffairsJuly 8, 2014
FORT LEAVENWORTH, Kan. -- First Army lit the record books afire by leading back-to-back exercises here demonstrating its new "Bold Shift" operational focus during the two largest mission command Warfighter exercises in Army history.
These division-level, precedent-setting exercises set records for the number of participating units and Soldiers. Included in that number was a large contingent of First Army observer-coach/trainers supporting the Army's Combined Arms Center's Mission Command Training Program, which designs and operates Warfighter scenarios.
"Mission Command Training Program's partnership with First Army has proven to be extremely beneficial," said MCTP commander, Col. Edward T. Bohnemann. "Not only does it provide us additional qualified observer-coach/trainers with National Guard experience to work with the training audiences, it also builds relationships between the National Guard and active duty units participating in the Warfighters. The First Army augmentees are definitely a value added to the team."
Warfighter 14-5a set an Army record in exercise scale with nine active duty and Army National Guard brigades, including units located at Fort Stewart, Georgia, centered around the New York Army National Guard's 42nd Infantry Division. However, that record was quickly shattered by Warfighter 14-5b, which involved 10 brigades of combined active duty and Army National Guard Soldiers, including units at Fort Riley, Kansas, centered around the Minnesota Army National Guard's 34th Infantry Division.
Army units in Fort Lee, Virginia, and the Air National Guard's Air and Space Operation Center in Springfield, Illinois, also joined the fight.
In all, more than 2,500 Soldiers from units throughout the United States participated in each exercise, along with 2,000 training support staff consisting of active duty, Army Reserve, Army National Guard, Army and Air Force civilians, and contractors.
The scale and significance of these record-setting Warfighters are not lost on First Army commanding general, Lt. Gen. Michael S. Tucker, who visited the Warfighter troops.
"This has Army chief of staff visibility, and it is a big bug hitting the windshield," Tucker said. "They must leave here with confidence in their equipment, their training and their leaders. This is what they get from being here, and they must have this before we send them to war."
Tucker said First Army's participation in the Warfighter exercises supports the unit's "Bold Shift" initiative, which streamlines the way it trains Army National Guard and Reserve Soldiers for deployment and shifts training support focus from post-mobilization to pre-mobilization.
"This exercise helps First Army fulfill its mission," Tucker said. "Since November 2013, we have begun this partnership with Reserve Component leaders to have this emphasis for the first time in 10 years."
Each Warfighter takes more than a year of planning and integration to set the conditions for successful training. The active duty component MCTP provides scores of subject matter experts to observe, coach and train the participating units, design the exercise, and support the simulations with world-class opposing forces who test the mettle of commanders.
Serving as exercise directors for the Warfighters were three First Army senior leaders: Maj. Gen. Michael R. Smith, First Army Deputy Commanding General-Support; Maj. Gen. Jeffrey L. Bailey, Division East Commanding General; and Maj. Gen. Warren E. Phipps, Division West Commanding General.
The Warfighters were hosted within the 55-acre Mission Training Center operated by the Army National Guard, under the command of Lt. Col. Kelly C. Brown.
The Mission Training Center provides the facility for the Warfighter exercise, along with lodging, meals, equipment, local transportation and its own small army of 177 exercise support staff personnel to ensure training systems and equipment run smoothly for the duration.
"We have a very positive and open relationship with First Army that enables us to provide them with turn-key support," Brown said. "You see a fantastic 'concert' here. We do all the 'roadie' work so when the units show up, they are like a band hitting the stage, and their show is seamless."