ROSEMOUNT, Minn. -- The perpetual rotor is arguably the most vital component of a watch. Without this stable, consistent power reserve, the second hand would tick forward irregularly, or worse, come to a halt entirely.
In the same way that a perpetual rotor is the driving force behind a watch's precision, efficiency, and power, the Soldier remains the impetus of the U.S. Army's capabilities and achievements. In the Middle East, each Soldier assigned to Task Force Spartan -- successfully completing individual duties for one of a variety of units synchronized throughout the region -- is contributing to the goals and output of a larger operation.
"Our Soldiers are competent in their craft and professional in their actions," said Maj. Gen. Benjamin Corell, Task Force Spartan commander. "We've entrusted them with planning and executing a number of exercises, training events, seminars and engagements designed to strengthen defense relationships and enhance military readiness with our partners in the region."
Sgt. 1st Class Kevin Brady, of the 65th Field Artillery Brigade (the unit colloquially referred to as "America's Thunder"), is a Task Force Soldier participating in those exercises.
"Recently, we took part in Black Oryx, an annual live-fire exercise, alongside members of the Jordan Armed Forces," Brady said. "During the exercise, Jordanians fired rounds from the HIMARS (High Mobility Artillery Rocket System), and we worked to provide Jordan's 29th Royal HIMARS Battalion with an excellent opportunity to rehearse fire missions, simulate training, and synchronize communication through their fire direction control center."
Brady and his fellow 65th FAB Soldiers make up one of five Task Force Spartan brigades providing fire support and maneuver capability to the region while training alongside numerous partner nations to improve interoperability and cohesion.
A MISSION IN THE MIDDLE EAST
Task Force Spartan increases military readiness and capability, in order to maintain regional stability and expand regional partnerships. Additionally, the task force and coalition partners conduct security operations within the region, enabling land forces to quickly build combat power through
multiple mobility options in times of crisis.
"My unit is taking part in collaborative training with members of our partner nations," Brady said. "We're focused on training that increases our lethality at the operational level, and it's exciting to know that we're part of something much bigger."
Recently, the 34th Red Bull Infantry Division, led by Corell, assumed command of Task Force Spartan -- the forward engine powering Operation Spartan Shield. With oversight from U.S. Army Central, Operation Spartan Shield contributes to the mission of U.S. Central Command, which builds cooperation among nations throughout the Middle East -- responding to crises, deterring and defeating threats and increasing regional stability.
"U.S. Soldiers assigned to Task Force Spartan are working side by side with regional partners to increase cohesion, promote security and achieve mutual goals," Corell said. "Through strong partnerships, and with integrated military capabilities, we will be ready to act together quickly in times of crisis to ensure the continued security and sovereignty of our partner nations."
While Brady takes part in exercises in Jordan, other task force Soldiers are currently operating and taking part in training exercises and partnership-building engagements across 8 other countries in the region.
SYNCHRONIZED CAPABILITY DEVELOPMENT
As the U.S. Army builds a more modern, lethal, agile and resilient force, the organization's continued development and enhanced capabilities benefit partner nations. Task Force Spartan enables this rising tide by coordinating intentional transfer of knowledge and skills between regional cohorts. Synchronization across the task force -- at all echelons -- and with multiple partner nations is aimed to provide collective growth in trust, readiness, compatibility and lethality.
Maintaining a lethal force to deter regional aggression is a common task force objective among exercises scheduled to kick off in December 2018.
During Iron Union 9, U.S. troops will take part in a field training exercise hosted by United Arab Emirates (UAE) land forces. The exercise, which will convene mechanized infantry assets from participating countries, is set to culminate with a combined arms live-fire exercise. Participating forces will operate as a single combined task force, designed to integrate the partner nations and test interoperability.
Simultaneously, Desert Observer 2 will be taking place. This field training exercise, which will include Kuwait and U.S. land forces, is designed to test and refine defense contingency plans. The combined arms live-fire exercise will incorporate armored units conducting a variety of tactical movements and activities, with a focus on compatibility and unified efforts in operations.
Further, the UAE Artillery Corps, in cooperation with the 65th FAB and the UAE Field Artillery School, will conduct a targeting simulation exercise to build intelligence, surveillance, target acquisition, and reconnaissance capacity. Goals of the exercise -- coined Operation Thunder Cloud -- include strengthening interoperability and developing tactics, techniques and procedures for future employment. Throughout the exercise, U.S. and partner forces will simulate counterfire operations to neutralize enemy indirect fire; use joint strike assets to disrupt, neutralize and destroy enemy forces; and conduct deliberate, dynamic and emergency targeting in mountainous and urban terrain.
DEPLOYING UNIQUE CAPABILITIES
Because military units are not permanently assigned to the Department of Defense's combatant commands, U.S. military units are activated and deployed to lead and support combatant command missions. Such is the case with units mobilized in support of Task Force Spartan.
"We arrived in Kuwait for our Task Force Spartan mission in May, and we hit the ground running," Brady said. "Back home in Utah, we train all year round, preparing for a variety of contingencies. If we're not training, we're supporting homeland operations or supporting emergency and disaster response efforts."
Just as each perpetual rotor of the world's most-renowned watches undergoes rigorous internal and external testing, U.S. Soldiers are trained, tested, and prepared for optimal performance. And, like the rotors, the task force's Soldiers are highly qualified to perform particular tasks.
Currently, 70 percent of the Soldiers that make up Task Force Spartan, including Brady and his team, hail from National Guard units, which are uniquely suited for the task force's mission. National Guard Soldiers bring a distinctive set of competencies to the area of operations -- in warfighting, developing partnerships and protecting the homeland. Guard units also carry a wealth of leadership and management skills.
At home, the Task Force's lead element, the 34th Red Bull Infantry Division, provides training and readiness oversight for 10 National Guard brigades, with a total of more than 23,000 Soldiers across Minnesota, Iowa and seven other states. Building, strengthening and supporting organizational and operational capacity of military units -- through leadership, command, control, and in-depth staff analysis -- is nothing new for the Red Bulls.
Through these core competencies and through tested leadership and mission command skills, Task Force Spartan Soldiers continue to execute operations with a collective vision -- one outlined by Corell.
"Task Force Spartan operates as an agile force -- successful in deterring regional aggression," Corell said. "We accomplish this by increasing collective lethality and unit readiness with our partners throughout the region. We will continue to expand upon existing military capability with our partners through engagements, exercises and operations focused on increasing theater security options. I'm proud of our Soldiers and everything they're doing to add value to our mission and improve as individuals as we provide mission command to Operation Spartan Shield."
As Brady and the rest of America's Thunder prepare for future exercises, Corell and other leaders have confidence knowing that Task Force Spartan Soldiers continue to offer a constant, stable source of power. Like the self-winding energy reserve and backbone of a luxury watch, the task force's Soldiers -- the critical component of a synchronized effort -- remain committed to precision, power and performance in the Middle East.