By Spc. Beverly Roche, 40th Public Affairs DetachmentOctober 21, 2019
Constantly sharpening and testing warfighter skills keeps the Soldiers of the 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) ready to fight adversaries anywhere and win. With this in mind, Soldiers of the 101st took part in Warfighter Exercise 20-01, a divisonwide exercise to validated its offensive and defensive operations against any near-peer threat.
The Oct. 1-10 WFX, directed by U.S. Army Forces Command, was a multi-echelon exercise designed to challenge participants by combining realistic training conditions and a virtual battlefield environment. It brought together elements of nearly every brigade in the division, as well as the Kentucky National Guard's Main Command Post-Operational Detachment.
"This is the preeminent training exercise at the division-level echelon for the U.S. Army to see the division's ability to fight in a large-scale combat operation," said Lt. Col. William Harris, commander of Headquarters and Headquarters Battalion, 101st Abn. Div.
WFX 20-01 focused on a decisive action training environment or DATE.
DATE scenarios train forces for larger conflicts with hybrid, near-peer threats, focusing on real-world situations similar to those found across the Army's operational environment.
During the exercise, Soldiers developed core warfighting competencies with nonstop simulated offensive and defensive operations.
"As the only air assault division in the U.S. Army and in the world, it is imperative that we maintain a razor's edge of readiness," said Command Sgt. Maj. Bryan Barker, 101st Abn. Div. senior enlisted advisor. "By doing these exercises it allows us to hone in on all those skills and really concentrate on working together as a team."
WFX 20-01 provided an opportunity for the 101st Abn. Div. staff to work on synchronization of warfighting functions, using doctrine and intelligence collection to leverage and employ combat power.
Major Kyle Abruzzese, WFX 20-01 chief of operations, was heavily involved in this process, orchestrating the ground scheme of maneuver with subordinate units throughout the two-week exercise.
"Where it becomes challenging is incorporating the different warfighting functions into the fire support of maneuver elements," Abruzzese said. "This exercise helps us take a good look in the mirror and see how good we can be, but more importantly to figure out some of the areas we need to work on."
Elaborating on the tough, realistic nature of Warfighter, Barker said the exercise is meant to bring the entire division to a higher level of performance.
"The thing to remember about this exercise is that it is meant to be challenging and it's meant to push us to our limits," he said. "We get to make mistakes and learn from them to get better and come out a lot better from where we started."
The importance of WFX 20-01 attracted distinguished visitors from across the Army. General Michael X. Garrett, commander of FORSCOM, met with Maj. Gen. Brian E. Winski, commanding general of the 101st Abn. Div and Fort Campbell, for a battlefield update.
While visiting, Garrett spoke to senior leaders about how well the division has done to achieve its mission and about the importance of training to be ready for future deployments.
General James C. McConville, U.S. Army chief of staff, attended the exercise's final after-action review via satellite. In opening remarks, he said he knew the Screaming Eagles division, that he commanded from 2011-2014, would do well.
"When the Army sends the Screaming Eagles somewhere, it's with the expectation that you will fight and win," McConville said.
The exercise was supported and enabled by the Army's Mission Command Training Program and I Corps, who provided guidance, feedback and direction as observers, controllers, trainers and a simulated higher headquarters.