By Spc. Liane SchmersahlAugust 29, 2017
Soldiers from the 77th Sustainment Brigade, a reserve unit based out of Fort Dix, New Jersey, joined the 10th Mountain Division (LI) Sustainment Brigade Muleskinners for "Objective Whitney," a simulated training exercise at Fort Drum's Division Hill, as part of its annual training in late August.
Thirty-two Soldiers from the 77th Sustainment Brigade traveled to Fort Drum to participate in the exercise, which used the Command Post of the Future (CPOF) to create a warfighting simulation. The 77th's "Liberty Warriors" supported the training in various support operations functions, from general supply to maintenance to mobility.
The exercise required the Soldiers to use their MOS-specific skills to contribute to the overall warfighter sustaining function. Reserve Soldiers worked alongside leaders and Soldiers from the 10th Mountain Division (LI) Sustainment Brigade, learning from the experience of seniors and bringing their own methods and training techniques to the fight.
"Here, we're out here to support the 10th Mountain Division," said Spc. April Mays, a supply specialist who has been with the 77th since 2010. "We support them on how they want to coordinate the task, how they want to proceed, how they sustain the warfighter. This experience is a little bit different for me; at other annual training events, we've had more ownership -- it's been our own exercises -- but I'm learning a lot from playing a support role and seeing how things are done on the active duty side."
The exercise ran from August 21 to 26 and required the sustainment brigades to support fictional units operating in a fictional deployed environment. The sustainers used CPOF to react to real-life support demands they might encounter during an overseas deployment, from coordinating ammunition requirements to responding to supply convoy attacks that compromise the warfighters' ability to accomplish the mission.
"As a general supply Soldier, my role in this exercise is dealing with Class One supplies," said Spc. Amira Ferguson, who joined the 77th Sustainment Brigade in 2013. Ferguson described the different tasks she's required to complete in a given day, and emphasized the importance of providing supplies to sustain the fight no matter what.
"We do everything on our end here to make sure everyone has what they need, but we also work closely with mobility; they're your best friend in dealing with supply because even though a convoy may get hit, the warfighter still has to be sustained," she said
The 10th Sustainment Brigade was required to maintain normal operations while also participating in the exercise. Chief Warrant Officer 3 Eucalia Rosa, General Supply Chief for 10th Sustainment Brigade Support Operations, said the support they received from the 77th's Soldiers was important not only to the mission, but to developing a partnership for whatever may lie ahead.
"They have done great; this is a new experience for some of them and they said they've learned a lot. They've been very proactive and eager to participate," she said. "I feel as if we've gained a partnership that's going to go a long way years from now; who knows when we might deploy with them, or if I might see these same Soldiers later on in a different unit."
In addition to learning and training from the sustainment simulation, the unit was able to use the time at Fort Drum to celebrate three junior-enlisted promotions and bond as a team. Senior leaders from the 10th Sustainment Brigade also took some of 77th's Soldiers on tour of the brigade's supply support activity (SSA) and areas of operation, giving them a chance to see how active duty Soldiers operate in garrison environments.
Overall, the two sustainment brigades were able to work together to accomplish a common mission, said 10th Mountain Division Sustainment Brigade Commander Col. Shawn Schuldt.
"The partnership between the 10th Sustainment Brigade and the 77th Sustainment Brigade proved to be a mutually beneficial experience," he said. "The ability to work shoulder to shoulder with this unit really demonstrated the "One team, one fight" mentality."
The exercise was intended to prepare the 10th Mountain Division (LI) and 10th Sustainment Brigade for a larger warfighting exercise to take place this fall, where units will be assessed and graded on their mission capability and effectiveness. This type of training helps prepare units for real-life scenarios by understanding and familiarizing with the operational demands of deployment and the military decision making process.