CAMP BUHERING, Kuwait - U.S. Army Sustainment Soldiers supporting Operation Spartan Shield conducted a Level II Deployment Readiness Exercise to test their ability to go from an alert to establishing mission critical communication and life support systems on July 13, 2019.
"As a combat sustainment support battalion under Task Force Spartan, our unit needs to remain agile, efficient, and responsive in order to meet the dynamic requirements within the CENTCOM (Central Command) AOR (area of responsibility)," said Capt. Christian W. Turley, Headquarters and Headquarters Company commander, 129th Support Battalion, 77th Sustainment Brigade. "Staying agile and efficient needs synchronization, resourcing, and rehearsals so world-class logistical support remains uninterrupted and meets the needs of the warfighters."
The first two phases of the exercise started with an alert followed by an all hands muster formation in the wee hours of the morning. From there, leadership teams began laying out priorities of work. Soldiers moved to their trucks, conducted mandatory vehicle inspections, equipment is loaded on the appropriate vehicles and the convoy departed.
"Getting through this first two phases was critical," said Turley. "These two phases went very well for the team; Soldiers knew their task and purpose. The vehicles rolled quickly and safely with the timing and precision we have been training for."
The next phase required the unit to establish an operations headquarters with communications. Communication includes everything you would need to run a battalion headquarters. This means simulating the ability to assume a distributed mission command for forward logistical elements.
"Tactical communications provide the backbone of the entire mission concept. It plays a vital role in the success of the mission," said Sgt. 1st Class Christopher M. Jones, the battalion information management office noncommisoned officer in charge. "Various communications platforms were established and TTPs (tactics, techniques and procedures) will continue to be refined to enhance our ability to deploy and establish our TAC (tactical command post) as quickly and efficiently as possible."
The last phase of the deployment readiness exercise established life support. In order to support the personnel on-site, the exercise requires the unit to set up a sleeping tent, small motor pool and a defensive perimeter. The life support would need to include all classes of supplies to ensure the Soldiers can be self-sustaining for a predetermined period of time.
"Every stage of this exercise is crucial but the life support phase is the make or break portion," said Capt. Eric Hall, the battalion operations officer in charge. "If we can't sustain ourselves after setting up a forward operating headquarters, we have missed the point of having a lethal, well-trained force that is able to lift, move, and reestablish the operation where the warfighter needs us."
Just like any other training exercise in the military, this deployment readiness exercise was followed by a robust after action report that involved every Soldier that participated. Reviewing what went well and what needs improvement only helps to ensure units stay technically and tactically proficient.
"Maintaining a high state of readiness while deployed is critical," said Lt. Col. Eric W. Anderson, the 129th Support Battalion commander. "We must remain agile and capable of rapidly establishing mission command in an austere location. This event will keep our HQs (headquarters) ready to provide the warfighter with critical distribution and sustainment capabilities throughout the CENTCOM AOR."