FORT KNOX, Ky. - An excited energy filled the Sadowski Center at Fort Knox, Kentucky March 14. 211 soldiers from the 135th Expeditionary Sustainment Command from Birmingham, Alabama arrived, ready for their mobilization validation. Several units across Fort Knox came together to provide all manner of support to the unit in preparation for mobilization to contingency operations in Southwest Asia.
Across the installation, a slightly smaller group gathered in anticipation in the Tactical Operations Center of the 4th Cavalry Multi-Functional Training Brigade. Soldiers and Civilians of the 4th Cavalry received their marching orders from Maj. Matthew Templeton, Current Operations Officer in Charge and on-site Battle Major.
“This is the culmination of months of planning and work on our part, but it’s most important for us all to remember that this is the culminating event before we send 135th out the door into real-world operations,” Templeton inspired his troops.
Not only was this mobilization event the reward of 4th Cavalry’s time and effort, as well as that of its Fort Knox neighbor units, it was also a test of sorts.
“This was the first time we’ve ever partnered with a National Guard unit, as well as our first General Officer-level command unit that we’ve validated,” Mr. Brett Lisher, 4th Cavalry Planning and Exercise Mobilization expert, said.
Lisher, Templeton, and numerous others in the brigade dedicated countless hours to ensuring this first-of-its-kind validation was conducted perfectly.
4th Cavalry, along with its sister First U.S. Army units, is tasked by Title 10 of the U.S. Code to validate all mobilizing Army Reserve and National Guard units. They are the only units tasked with this mission in the entire Army. However, 4th Cavalry had not yet been tested in its ability to validate a National Guard unit, let alone one commanded by an officer outranking its commander.
“It was an honor to work with Brig. Gen. Thomas Vickers in this capacity,” said Col. Timothy M. Gallagher, commander, 4th Cavalry MFTB.
“To be able to highlight and showcase the talents and expertise of the 4th Cavalry team was even more rewarding. Knowing that the 135th ESC was able to train up its entire deploying force and authenticate their skills because of our work was so gratifying, especially knowing this was the first time we have done it this way,” he continued.
The mobilization concluded with a ten-day real-world scenario exercise, or Culminating Training Exercise (CTE), held at the Fort Knox Mission Training Center (MTC) alongside subject matter experts from 1st Theater Sustainment Command.
“The CTE is the final training event, ensuring the deploying ESC is prepared to execute Combatant Commander requirements after arriving in theater,” Maj. Desmond Braziel, 4th Cavalry Brigade Simulations Officer, said.
“First Army validates the unit’s ability to meet Force Tracking Number (FTN) requirements by incorporating both the higher headquarters and subordinate units into a multi-echelon exercise to realistically simulate working with the logistics enterprise in theater,” he continued.
The CTE followed three weeks of individual and team-focused training. Soldiers were qualified on nearly every weapons system available, including pistols, rifles, and grenade launchers, both individually fired and crew served. They also received sexual harassment and assault prevention training, mandatory theater-specific training, tactical combat casualty care training, and HMMWV Egress Assistance Trainer simulations.
The final parties of the 135th ESC departed Fort Knox April 22. The 1st TSC, 645th Regional Support Group, 84th Training Command, and 4th Cavalry had all come together for over a month. Transportation, meals, lodging, and even entertainment, had all taken their toll on the units, but, when the final bus left the installation, the soldiers and civilians of each supporting command could take pride in knowing their partners were prepared.