The 13th Expeditionary Sustainment Command deployed to the fictitious country of Atropia for 10 days to defend its boarders from Arianin aggression at the Mission Command Training Center on Fort Hood, Texas during the War Fighter Exercise 17-3. An all-encompassing exercise used to determine a unit's readiness and effectiveness on the battlefield.
The War Fighter Exercise allows units from the Army Active, Reserve and National Guard components to practice operating at a high operational tempo in a Decisive Action environment. Units are able to coordinate, train and build relationships with others they normally would not work with through the exercise. Other units and organizations involved were Defense Logistics Agency Energy Americas, 177th Military Police Brigade from the Michigan National Guard, the 35th Engineers Brigade the Missouri National Guard and 1st Armored Division from Fort Bliss, Texas. Five British Soldiers from the Royal Logistics Corps in England came to Fort Hood to participate in the exercise.
"Our aim in being here is to strengthen the partnership between our formations as part of the NATO alliance." Said Major Mark Player RLC, a staff officer with the British Army's 104 Logistic Support Brigade Headquarters, based in Gloucestershire, England. "This exercise brings people and processes closer together and develops sustainment interoperability for when we work together downrange." Player added.
Andre Hinson, from Headquarters, Defense Logistics Agency-Energy, came to the exercise as a liaison officer. "DLA is a strategic partner and enabler. I was excited to come to Fort Hood for the exercise and work with the support operations section and Ops Group Sierra. We added some reality to the simulation about how the different types of fuel arrive in country and the best way to move it to the warfighters who need it." "It was great to see the 13th ESC learn and I know they will be able to connect our fuel stocks with the Soldiers who need it." Hinson added.
The Mission Command Training Program, from Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, provided this training in mission command, educated training audiences on mission command based on doctrine, trends and observations made across the Army plus the military decision-making process. The 13th ESC began preparing for this exercise in May of 2016 through a series of staff exercises, training at the MCTP on Fort Leavenworth and a Command Post Exercise-Functional on North Fort Hood.
"The warfighter challenged the 13th ESC and all of its subordinate commands to be able to synchronize and integrate all components of the sustainment warfighting function on the move in order to keep pace with the speed and scheme of maneuver," said Col. Douglas McBride Jr., 13th ESC Commander.
The 13th ESC's role in this exercise was to provide sustainment support to maneuver units by managing three sustainment brigades. The ESC's mission was similar to the sustainment brigades, but was much larger in scope.
"The sustainment brigade is focused on their respective division or an area to support, whereas the ESC coordinated all three sustainment brigades, managed sustainment across the joint operations area, and provided the link between the warfighter in the tank or fox hole and the American industrial base." Said Col. Keith Sledd, The Deputy Commanding Officer of the 13th ESC.
"This exercise is critical to the 13th ESC because it allows us to closely examine and validate our systems and processes of the Sustainment Warfighting function in relation to operating in a decisive action environment." Said Capt. Karl Rauch, the Force Protection Officer in the 13th ESC. "These are systems and processes that, in many cases, have fallen out of practice within the last 15 years." Rauch added.
The 13th ESC operated out of tents and conducted field feeding from a Mobilized Kitchen Trailer to simulate being in an immature theater and austere environment. The unit conducted 24 hour operations to operate on a real world war fighting battle rhythm.
"This exercise has stressed our ability to operate 24hrs a day while leveraging Standard Operating Procedures and Battle Drills to deal with the fog and friction of Decisive Action." Said McBride.
"The amount of collective experience our staff has with operating in a Decisive Action scenario is relatively small. The War Fighter allows us to identify those gaps across the staff and determine where the team needs to improve." Rauch said.
For the last 16 years the Army has been involved with the Counter Insurgency fight. The War Fighter Exercise focuses on the Decisive Action fight. Something many Soldiers may not be comfortable with yet.
"The Decisive Action training environment demands that you take a holistic approach to talent management across the grade plates to ensure we have the right skills at the right time to accomplish the mission." McBride added.
"Many of us have been in Warfighter exercises in the past, but the expanded scope of being in an ESC as opposed to a sustainment brigade was new and gave us plenty of challenges to overcome." Sledd added. " I'm proud of the 13th ESC Solders who took part in the exercise. Everyone learned, and we are better able to support future contingencies anywhere in the world."