By Clemens GainesOctober 1, 2018
ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. -- All staff elements from the 20th Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear, Explosives (CBRNE) Command moved to a warehouse Sept. 26-28 to practice a command post deployment.
Leaving the familiar surroundings of cubicles and offices, Soldiers and civilians created a make-shift command post to hone their operational skills, stay current in training and performance, and to work through a rugged overseas problem.
"Our Soldiers know how to do their mission," said Lt. Col. Jeremy Groover, chief of plans from Springville, Pennsylvania. "But they must know how to deploy, set up a command post and do their mission. This CPX supports that training need."
The exercise also supports readiness, an enduring mission priority for the command.
"It has been more than 10 months since we deployed as a large group," said Groover. "This gap in training, as well as personnel rotations, may have eroded many perishable skills and lessons learned, so the Soldiers need this training to stay sharp. New Soldiers need to know how they fit in since some have not done this before."
Col. Adam Hilburgh, chief of staff and a New York City native, set the tone for the three-day exercise.
"This is a complex situation with lots of unknowns," Hilburgh said to the staff. "You have to define what we can bring to this fight and make a recommendation to the commanding general on what we are going to do."
An empty warehouse down the road from the command's headquarters on Aberdeen Proving Ground -- Edgewood Area served as the venue with an emphasis on setting up satellite-based communications and then receiving, analyzing, and processing mission information to recommend alternatives. The problem-solving process is computer-based and interactive with Soldiers and leaders adapting to the flow of information as it would be in an actual operational environment.
The 20th CBRNE is a one-of-a-kind Army command that responds to and supports combatant commanders in both the United States and overseas. The command integrates, coordinates, deploys, and provides trained and ready CBRNE forces. The command is capable of exercising command and control of specialized CBRNE operations to support joint and Army force commanders primarily for overseas contingencies and warfighting operations, but also in support of homeland defense. The 20th maintains technical links with appropriate joint, Army, federal and state CBRNE assets, as well as the research, development, and technical communities to assure Army CBRNE response readiness.
The multi-specialty, highly technical staff includes Soldiers with training and expertise in intelligence, operational planning, satellite-based communications, logistics and transportation.
In the classified scenario, the team worked to provide course of action alternatives based on a problem set in the U.S. European Command area of operations.
The 20th staff cannot simply make up course of action alternatives based on their own thinking. The team must know and use the military decision making process which follows a known pattern: receipt of a mission; mission analysis; course of action (COA) development; COA analysis (aka war gaming); COA comparison; and COA approval.
Once a COA is approved, orders are produced to employ the course of action and they are disseminated to the units.
The decision presented by the 20th to the supported commander must nest within the requirements of the higher headquarters' order.
The three-day exercise concluded on Sept. 28 with the command's planners providing the 20th CBRNE commanding general, Brig. Gen. James Bonner, with a problem statement, a mission statement, and receiving the commander's intent and the course of action planning guidance. In the next two exercises this year, the staff will develop more detailed actions and timelines to succeed in accomplishing the mission.
"What we bring to the fight is our unique expertise in the chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear, explosives threat areas. From our many years supporting U.S. Pacific Command, we know our mission is expeditionary and that our Soldiers must be ready to deploy and operate in another environment," said Groover.