FORT KNOX, Ky. — Members of V Corps completed their first command post exercise March 12, just five months after reactivating at Fort Knox.
Called Victory Glide, the a virtual-environment exercise involved members of the three-star headquarters unit along with elements of U.S. Army Europe-Africa, 1st Cavalry Division, 4th Air support Operations Group, Special Operations Command Europe and several other units in the United States and Europe.
The corps commanding general, Lt. Gen. John Kolasheski, said his Soldiers achieved much of what they had intended, with key support coming from more than 4,500 miles away.
“I’m extremely proud of the entire Victory team and all the hard work they put in to make this exercise a worthwhile training event,” said Kolasheski. “A special thank you to the Joint and Multinational Simulation Center and 7th Army Training Command [in Grafenwoehr, Germany,] in helping put together the exercise.”
Command Sgt. Maj. Billy Webb, senior enlisted advisor for V Corps, said the exercise proved beneficial to everyone involved.
“This exercise allowed Soldiers of all levels to come together in a low-threat training environment and work as a team toward accomplishing our specified training objectives,” Webb said. “Conducting training opportunities like Victory Glide allow our more experienced warfighters to share their knowledge with the team. At the same time it allows those who are less experienced and new to the Army to benefit from that knowledge and experience, ultimately building a stronger, more cohesive unit.”
While the Soldiers conducted the exercise within a controlled, classified environment, they focused on testing the systems with which the unit has been equipped to ensure they are fully operational and able to communicate effectively with U.S. and NATO systems, as well as the systems V Corps Soldiers will be using while in Poland, according to officials.
They also focused on other goals.
“This is our first time to come together as a team, out of the headquarters and into a tactical-like environment where we can build our team with good COVID mitigation measures in place,” said Col. David Snow, the G3/5 Future Operations officer. “We’re also here to validate our procedures and all of the things we need to do to be a corps staff.”
Those procedures include how they will conduct business while stationed on a rotational basis at their forward command post in Poznan, Poland, from where they will eventually command units assigned to them and on rotation in Europe. While units like 2nd Cavalry Regiment, 12th Combat Aviation Brigade and 41st Field Artillery Brigade have been tagged to join V Corps, Army officials said they are still working on what other units will be permanently assigned.
The nearly one-week exercise involved each of the general staffs working together to coordinate accurate responses to various fictional scenarios. Those scenarios were designed to simulate what their real-world mission might encounter.
“This was a great opportunity for [everyone] to come together, exercise our processes and procedures, and build out how we as a corps headquarters will exercise mission command of subordinate elements in a crisis situation or conflict and work with USAREUR-AF,” said Kolasheski.
Unlike the other three corps headquarters, where newly assigned personnel fall in on established procedures, mission sets and seasoned personnel, V Corps has had to rewrite its procedures almost from scratch. This proved challenging given the relatively low number of Soldiers assigned to the unit who have previously worked at the corps level.
“It’s significantly different than the tactical experience at the battalion or brigade level because of the sheer scope, breadth and depth of the battlespace,” said Col. Steve Cunningham, the G5 Plans officer. “We’re all having to learn together.”
Unit officials said they have had tremendous help from other corps staffs, however. To tap into those resources, V Corps established what Cunningham called a Tiger Team, led by G5.
“We set it up to compare and contrast across the other three corps and 1st Infantry Division, and to take their best practices,” said Cunningham. “In routine conversations with my counterparts at the other corps, they have been nothing but helpful and supportive.
“We’re fairly confident that we’re picking the best practices from the other three corps, but there are some decisions [at the highest levels] that will ultimately impact what V Corps is doing.”
At the same time that they supported Victory Glide, Cunningham said his team has been planning for the next V Corps validation exercise in early fall, DEFENDER-Europe 21, which will begin this month and run through June. The exercise will involve more than 30,000 multinational forces from 27 nations, conducting simultaneous exercises at over 30 training areas in a dozen nations.
Once they complete the warfighter exercise and the Corps’ validation efforts at full operational capability, V Corps will begin augmenting the forward command post in Poland with additional personnel.
“We will continue to build on those lessons learned, gleaned from this exercise through a series of cumulative exercises,” said Kolasheski, “as we march toward our headquarters certification this fall.”