By Sgt. 1st Class Michael CoxMarch 21, 2018
Brownwood, Texas-The 13th Expeditionary Sustainment Command deployed to Camp Bowie National Guard Training Center in Brownwood, Texas. The 13th ESC conducted the Combined Arms Support Command evaluated Command Post Exercise- Functional 18 to synchronize staff elements and processes in order to execute theater sustainment and distribution operations in a deployed environment.
For CASCOM CPX-18 was proof of principle to conduct phase one and two for Reception, Staging and Onward Movement. Including RSO in future exercises based on a decisive action scenario increases the complexity of building capacity and anticipating the requirements in a semi or non-permissive environment.
Maj. Gen. Douglas Chalmers, III Corps Deputy Commanding General (UK), conducted a battlefield circulation during the CPX-F saying, "I'm proud of the ESC and CASCOM for including phase one and two in this exercise. This type of rigor will make future War Fighters better."
The unit rehearsed procedures for receiving a 96 hour deployment order then conducted a rehearsal of concept drill analyzing the mission prior to replicating deploying to an austere environ-
ment in an immature theater nearly 100 miles north west of Fort Hood at Camp Bowie for 17 days.
"Essentially what we are doing is stress testing our systems and enabling our sustainment capabilities forward to see how we operate by echelon down to the sustainment brigades." Said Maj. Jesus Pena, G3 Deputy Chief of Plans for the 13th ESC.
The unit set up a Command Post and went through a series of scenarios they would likely encounter in a decisive action environment to ensure they know what to do when in a real world conflict.
For the several years the Army has had predictable deployments and rotations, particularly in Afghanistan and Iraq. Units operated out of bases that had already been established. The focus of training now is to get back basics and preparing for the unknown and being able to accomplish future missions.
There were many challenges presented during the exercise. Some were designed into the exercise, some were presented by Mother Nature.
"The biggest challenge we faced out here was weather and the terrain." Pena said. "The heavy rains, cold weather, winds and mud tested us on how we could operate but we overcame those obstacles moved forward and figured it out. "
Several days of heavy and consistent rain saturated the field site creating very muddy conditions to operate in.
A Mobile Kitchen Trailer was set up to feed more than 250 troops during the exercise. Hot meals were provided for breakfast and dinner. For some cooks it was there first time operating and feeding in a field setting.
"This exercise introduced our new culinary specialists from AIT to the day to day operations of what a culinary specialist's job in the field is like." Said Staff Sgt. Ashley Dennis, Advance Culinary NCO in the 13th ESC. "We're pretty much working 16 hours a day making sure that everyone is satisfied with the food we're preparing."
Besides testing systems and battle drills, force protection was also a priority. One of the biggest task during this field exercise was building a bunker and multiple fighting positions that required more than 2,000 sand bags to be filled.
"The role of a bunker is to provide protection from indirect fire." Maj. Jeffry Beeman, Senior Engineer for the 13th ESC, said. "It's an important skill for Soldiers to learn because it's one of our main battle drills that's in our 13th ESC TACSOP. It's actually battle drill number one. React to indirect fire."
CPX-F 18 is a culminating exercise that accomplishes the crawl and walk phases as well as fine tunes the unit's systems and procedures leading up to the War Fighter Exercise where the unit is part of the training audience.
"This training is important for us because we have to stay current on our skill craft, knowing what Troop Training Procedures are out there when it comes to mission command and operating those Army battle command systems." Pena said. " In order for us to do that this is the way to do it. We have to get every rank from E1 all the way to O7 to understand where they fit in when it comes to Mission Command and operating in a command post environment."
The 13th ESC will conduct War Fighter Exercise 19-04 early next year where they will take the knowledge and skills learned from this exercise and apply them on a larger scale.