FORT LEONARD WOOD, Mo. (Jan. 29, 2009) - The 196th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade, South Dakota National Guard, completed two weeks of annual training in advanced battle tracking computer skills - a staff training exercise - at the Maneuver Support Center, Jan. 15.

The MEB is one of the Army's newest unit structures, and it was created at MANSCEN, leaders said.

"MANSCEN is the lead in developing the doctrine and bringing the MEBs online, so that's why we're here," said Col. Jeff Marlette, 196th MEB commander.

In the new modular Army plan, the MEB is one of the nine modular brigades, Marlette said.

"It is a multi-functional brigade that is fairly new to the Army force structure. The three primary components of the MEB are the Military Police, Engineer and Chemical branches. The MEB is designed to control those elements in an area of operations," Marlette said.

The MEB can provide much needed support in combat, Marlette said.

"The main missions of the MEB are ensuring maneuver and mobility, so that friendly forces can move about that area of operations, providing stability and operations and re-establishing those governments, systems and infrastructure; very similar to what is going on in the real world today," Marlette said.

During training, Soldiers worked typical combat schedules; more than 12 hours daily, seven days a week.

"In the first part of the training, we went through the technical systems that the MANSCEN has implemented for the MEB; computer systems that help us move around the battlefield and locate where everyone is," said Sgt. Carl Lere, 196th MEB.

"I think it gave Soldiers a lot of exposure to the MEB and a better idea of what it does on a big scale," Lere said.

In computer simulations, Soldiers used the new systems the same way a deployed unit would; planning missions, reacting to attacks and executing contingency plans, said Maj. Mark Wiesner, 196th MEB public affairs officer.

"We're a new MEB, so it's great to pull all our teams together and function as a single unified team in support of the MEB concept," Wiesner said.

After the 196th MEB learned the ins-and-outs of new computer software for battle tracking, they went to war - virtually - against a team of MANSCEN trainers.

"We have a 26-man training simulation staff that brings the training together and supports the unit on the ground," said David Pape, MANSCEN Simulations and Integration chief.

In other words, Pape and his team played the bad guys and put the 196th MEB through a tactical exercise to test the unit's abilities with the new systems.

The training was especially important for Marlette's unit and its mission in the not-to-distant future, he said.

"This unit has been alerted for mobilization, and we will deploy into one of the (combat) theaters within the next 12 to 18 months. We're in the ramp-up phase to deployment, so this training was critical to shine a light on where we're at and help us to lay out a good road to deployment. It has been a good experience for us," Marlette said.