POZNAN, Poland - The Big Red One breaks out of the office to prove themselves as a ready and mobile command for their first field training exercise.
These strong and resilient Soldiers spent late nights and early mornings braving cold weather and trudging through a muddy field to set up an area of operations for the Mission Command Element's command post exercise in the Alexander Training Area, in Biedursko, Poland, Feb. 8-10.
Soldiers with the Mission Command Element, 1st Infantry Division, out of Fort Riley, Kansas, participated in a field exercise to improve readiness, perform command post functions, and to stress the ability to move the MCE quickly when required.
"We're bringing the Mission Command Element out to validate the requirement to function as a command post," said Col. Patrick Michaelis, the commander of the MCE. "It's been a while so there's a lot of learning going on right now and it's positive learning and understanding how to command and control large formations."
The MCE is a command post for the units across Atlantic Resolve and this field training provided an opportunity to train in a field environment and function effectively.
The training includes route planning, sustainment operations, maintenance readiness, and communications set up that will enable conditions for future training exercises.
"We worked with our tactical vehicles, set up a command post, set up our communications platforms, testing it with our brigades below us," said Sgt. 1st Class Jean-Noel Howell, the operations NCOIC for the MCE. "Showing that we are able and capable of providing direct support to the Atlantic Resolve mission from a field environment."
There were classes throughout the field training exercise, such as maneuver and survival training, driver's training during the day and at night with night vision devices, and classes over radio etiquette and setting up radios to get them online properly.
Spc. Todd Callahan, a signal support systems specialist with the MCE, taught a class on tactical satellite communications radios to other Soldiers, enabling them to have a better understanding of the importance of communication capabilities in a field environment.
"Every Soldier should know how to use a radio, regardless of their specific job," said Callahan. "I feel it's very important for Soldiers to be able to train each other, so we know more than just our specific jobs so we can help each other and adapt to the mission."
During the class, the Soldiers were able to be hands-on with the radios and antenna; setting the system up with minimal help.
"I feel like the class itself went really well," said Spc. Dokken Hirth, a satellite communication operator who attended the class. "It was all hands-on, so it was easier to learn and figure it out through trial and error."
The training spanned the course of three days, allowing them to quickly jump from one place to another within the Alexander Training Area to stress their capabilities and identify faults to improve future missions.
"The training overall has been great," said Howell. "We have Soldiers that have a few months in the Army and Soldiers that have 20 years in the Army. It was a good learning experience with everyone sharing their knowledge. It really bonded the Soldiers together and gave them a better understanding of our capabilities here."
The MCE has another field exercise in the near future, providing them with more training to improve and ensure we are ready and able to provide assurance to our NATO allies.
"I'm looking forward to the next training exercise," said Howell. "To take everything we learned from here and to see it grow and develop for the next iteration. The purpose of all training is to learn and develop, and then improve the next time."
The ability to respond to a twenty-first century security challenge and to unconventional threats, the force needs to be fast, mobile, able to surge quickly, and not tied to one place.
"One of the responsibilities of Atlantic Resolve is to build readiness for the Army," said Michaelis. "The great part about this exercise is we're going to send [our Soldiers] back to the United States better trained with a better appreciation for the complexities of operating in eastern Europe and to build the readiness of our partners across the Mission Command Element and Atlantic Resolve."