By Melody Everly, Fort Drum Garrison Public AffairsSeptember 28, 2017
FORT DRUM, N.Y. (Sept. 28, 2017) -- Since the 10th Mountain Division (LI) was activated at Fort Drum in 1985, its Soldiers have served as one of the Army's premier expeditionary forces -- ready to deploy at a moment's notice to provide for the security of our nation and our allies around the world.
To be able to focus on their objective, Soldiers of the division have relied upon the local community to provide the support that they and their Families need to thrive in spite of the demands of meeting the ever-changing mission.
In today's increasingly complex security environment, these demands will only continue to expand, said Maj. Gen. Walter E. Piatt, 10th Mountain Division (LI) and Fort Drum commander.
To provide community leaders with a clearer picture of that mission, Fort Drum officials invited representatives from several community agencies to visit the installation Sept. 26 for a firsthand look at how the division operates in a field environment.
Piatt led the group on a tour of the site where the division's War-fighter exercise and validation cycle -- which will be overseen by officials from the U.S. Army's Mission Command Training Program -- will commence this Friday. The exercise is the culmination of a series of training events that the division has conducted throughout the summer to prepare the headquarters and its staff for future directed missions.
"We have to get ready for the future fight -- not just the one that we have been fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan for the past 16 years," Piatt said. "While we have been fighting that fight, our adversaries have been modernizing their militaries."
Engaging these modern and highly resourced adversaries -- often referred to as the "near-peer" threat -- requires a substantial shift in the way contingency operations are performed, Piatt said.
While in the past the Army typically controlled the airspace during the fight, ground forces must now fight through an elaborate enemy defense and then bring in the Air Force to set conditions so that the Army can advance.
"That's the kind of strategic environment that we -- the 10th Mountain Division -- have to be trained for," he said. "To fight this kind of fight, we have to think differently. What I want to show you today is how this impacts Fort Drum and our future vision for training and why it's so important that we understand the demands on our training areas."
Throughout the exercise, the headquarters staff and its subordinate units will encounter challenges based upon real-world events. They will need to act collaboratively and decisively to engage a skillful aggressor with superior armor, air and electronic warfare capabilities.
Inside the tactical command post, Soldiers from all military occupational specialties work side-by-side. From medical personnel, to lawyers, to engineers, intelligence and civil affairs officers, every member of the team provides valuable input, said Capt. Victoria Strait, division current operations battle captain.
"We are an information integration hub for the division," she said. "We maintain open lines of communication with our subordinate units, adjacent units and our higher headquarters. This provides a clear, accurate picture of what's occurring on the battlefield."
Piatt explained that the command post is much smaller than those that have been used in recent contingency operations, and it is designed so that it can be set up, broken down and relocated quickly.
"We've got to be able to displace more rapidly in this new environment," he said. "With the newer adversary, we've got to get back to being mobile."
In addition to timeliness, precision and decision-making are key to achieving objectives in the mission, and these capabilities are enhanced by a team of 30 Soldiers and airmen who belong to the Joint Air Ground Integration Center, Piatt said.
The members of the team are subject-matter experts who are responsible for coordinating the many moving pieces involved in a large-scale land fight, said Maj. Alexander Dean, division JAGIC chief.
Our fundamental task is to manage the battlefield and the airspace above it," he said. "We have to look at the entire spectrum of assets to de-conflict a full range of military operations."
From controlling airspace, to monitoring Army and Air Force aircrew movement, to tracking friendly and enemy fires, to commanding division assets, Piatt said that the JAGIC team performs some of the most critical tasks in a tactical engagement.
"It's a really complex environment," he said. "They have to manage multiple assets simultaneously, and they have to do it with precision every single time -- there's no margin for error."
Piatt said that this rigorous, real-world training is vital, as it prepares the command team and headquarters staff to meet the demands of the forward mission in a day and age when enemy forces have vast resources and capabilities.
"It's an incredible problem set," he said. "It was designed by the Army to give us this overwhelming challenge so that -- as a division headquarters -- we will learn to fight against an enemy that has an advantage over us. This simulation requires us to go up against a threat that is much bigger than one that we are likely to encounter in the real world, but that's what we do in the Army -- we train for the worst-case scenario."
While the Warfighter exercise will conclude Oct. 12, Piatt stressed that the command team and leadership of Fort Drum are constantly looking at the best way to train Soldiers for the "future threat."
"If our nation asks us to go, we are ready now, but we must also be relevant tomorrow," Piatt said. "We're training against a real threat that exists today and will only grow in the future. We've got to train for it in this simulation, and we've got train for it now and in the future on Fort Drum."