Native Fury is a biennial, joint, and multinational exercise led by Marine Corps Forces Central Command (MARCENT) that takes place within the Central Command (CENTCOM) area of responsibility (AOR). This year, Native Fury 2022 (NF22) was conducted in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA). Participants for the exercise included Army Central Command (ARCENT), MARCENT, Naval Forces Central Command (NAVCENT), Air Forces Central Command (AFCENT), and the KSA Ministry of Defense (MOD) forces. For ARCENT, the purpose of the exercise was twofold. First, it allowed the command to demonstrate its ability to conduct joint reception, staging, onward movement, and integration (JRSOI) from port to fort for units entering the AOR. Second, and equally as important, it was an opportunity to strengthen the partnerships between U.S. service components and our international partners. Decisively, NF22 met both objectives. The planning, preparation, and execution of this exercise were seamlessly organized between participants and validated our ability to deploy, fight, and win in complex environments.
ARCENT’s planning for the exercise originated at the 1st Theater Sustainment Command (1st TSC) main command post (MCP) at Fort Knox, Kentucky, in Fall 2021. After assembling the final details of the exercise and starting the military decision-making process, the MCP transferred responsibility for NF22 final planning and execution to the 135th Expeditionary Sustainment Command (135th ESC). The 135th ESC’s role within CENTCOM is significant as it is the unit responsible for managing theater sustainment operations from the 1st TSC’s operational command post (OCP) located at Camp Arifjan, Kuwait. After their assumption of planning responsibility, members of the ESC G35 attended two planning conferences and initiated parallel planning with the 36th Sustainment Brigade (36th SB).
The first of these planning conferences was conducted with the I Marine Expeditionary Force (I MEF) at Camp Pendleton, California. The second planning conference was conducted with I MEF and KSA MOD forces in Riyadh, KSA. Primary outputs of the conferences included 1st TSC convoy requirements, the Joint Movement Control Center (JMCC) construct, the plan for theater gateway establishment, and the exercise’s overall medical concept of support plan. These planning efforts continued through mid July, culminating with a comprehensive and detailed rehearsal of concept (ROC) drill. Everyone had a clear understanding of the mission and their role in its accomplishment. The team did a phenomenal job of accounting for and mitigating risk to mission and risk to force.
Following the ROC drill execution in July, the 1st TSC OCP resumed its preparation for NF22. The OCP’s key exercise task for NF22 was to validate strategic operational plan objectives with the displacement and dispersion of a tactical command post (TAC) to enable distributed mission command. To ensure the staff was ready to execute, the 1st TSC deputy commanding general, Brig. Gen. Thomas Vickers, directed three OCP TAC exercises. Two of these TAC exercises were conducted at Camp Arifjan, Kuwait. The final exercise was conducted at the Kuwait Naval Base, which is shared with our Kuwaiti partners. The three TAC exercises validated the TAC’s mission command capability and ability to forward deploy, which was essential to the ESC’s success during NF22. The exercises enabled the establishment of the TAC at Yanbu, KSA, in less than 24 hours, and the Soldiers that participated gained valuable experience in TAC operations to assist JRSOI.
At the conclusion of these three exercises, the TAC was ready to start NF22 and displaced to Logistics Support Area (LSA) Jenkins located in Yanbu, KSA. Concurrently, the 36th SB staged troops and equipment at Prince Sultan Air Base (PSAB), KSA, in preparation for supporting the exercise. From this combined base with the Saudi MOD, the 36th SB then established convoy support centers (CSCs) along the Trans Arabian Network (TAN) to enable the JRSOI of MARCENT’s equipment and personnel. Once the equipment, troops, and mission command infrastructure were in place, conditions were set for the execution of NF22.
ARCENT formally began the execution phase of NF22 on July 28, 2022, with the arrival of the 1st TSC OCP’s liaison to MARCENT’s Combined Exercise Coordination Cell located at the commercial seaport of debarkation (SPOD) in Yanbu, KSA. Throughout the next two weeks, forces from the 1st TSC continued to flow into the exercise AOR via the aerial port of debarkation (APOD) and from ground lines of communication across the TAN. On Aug. 6, the 1st TSC OCP TAC was fully operations capable and ready to provide mission command to all 1st TSC forces supporting NF22.
The 1st TSC OCP TAC provided mission command through the JMCC and communication infrastructure created over five geographical command and control nodes between the 36th SB and 336th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion (CSSB) TACs. The JMCC was a robust cell comprised of personnel from the I MEF, 135th ESC, 36th SB, 336th CSSB, 257th Movement Control Battalion, 14th Human Resources Support Center, and 595th Transportation Brigade. The JMCC was essential to the OCP TAC’s ability to provide oversight of all 1st TSC and MARCENT personnel and equipment moving to and from the Yanbu SPOD, the LSA, and across the TAN as part of MARCENT’s JRSOI requirements.
The 36th SB served as the tactical execution element for the 1st TSC and ARCENT. Over the course of the exercise, the 36th SB’s Theater Gateway Personnel Accountability Teams immigrated 1,352 service members into KSA. Additionally, their customs teams cleared 354 pieces of rolling stock while also providing sustainment support to MARCENT for surface port operations at the commercial port of the Yanbu SPOD. This support included the inland transportation of 367 pieces of equipment spanning over 2,200 cumulative miles between the SPOD and LSA as well as across the TAN into PSAB. To exercise mission command of their operation, the 36th SB established a brigade-level TAC at PSAB, supported by a battalion-level TAC at the Yanbu APOD. This structure provided simplicity of mission command to the 36th SB commander, Col. Carrie Perez, and extended the operational reach of the brigade during the exercise.
Using organic and contracted services, the 36th SB employed two CSCs to provide tactical sustainment support for combined/joint convoy operations transiting the TAN. The CSCs provided more than 44,000 gallons of bulk fuel, 3,255 contracted meals, 746 bags of ice, and stored 192 cases of meals ready-to-eat along with 2,304 bottles of water. The CSCs also provided air-conditioned sleep tents, laundry services, and shower facilities. KSA partners provided Ministry of Health Services, conducting combined medical training and key leader engagements with MARCENT and 1st TSC health service support personnel. The KSA MOD also provided force protection at each CSC, the SPOD, the APOD, and for convoy movements.
Upon completion of the combined/joint convoy operations from Yanbu to PSAB, NF22 culminated with a 36th SB planned and executed bilateral machine gun range with participants from both the Marines and KSA partners. This bilateral machine gun range met both the ARCENT and 1st TSC commanding generals’ intent to increase partner capacity with regard to lethality and enhanced cooperation for the mutual defense of KSA. It was also the capstone of a yearlong planning process that required extensive collaboration and validation leading up to the execution of NF22.
NF22 presented a welcome opportunity for ARCENT to demonstrate that, in conjunction with partners, the Army can effectively execute its wartime mission in support of any contingency operation. This year’s iteration came at an opportune time when, post COVID-19, all intermediate preparation steps required for execution could be performed at full scale, which greatly enhanced execution. The exercise required in-depth doctrinal understanding, precise planning, innovative ideas, and an optimized mission command infrastructure to effectively meet its objectives. The units from ARCENT, MARCENT, NAVCENT, AFCENT, and our KSA partners admirably responded to the challenge and convincingly validated their ability to thrive in complex environments and support victory on behalf of the combatant commander.
While the sustainment enterprise was unquestionably successful during NF22, the exercise opened the door for future applications of Army innovation within the CENTCOM theater. New technologies, processes, and capabilities currently under development provide opportunities to gain efficiencies, enhance effectiveness, and reduce risk to mission and risk to force. Recognizing these opportunities, ARCENT and the 1st TSC are working diligently to get these capabilities into the CENTCOM theater where they can be put to the ultimate test.
Maj. Gen. Michel M. Russell Sr. is currently serving as the commanding general of the 1st Theater Sustainment Command operating at Fort Knox, Kentucky, and Camp Arifjan, Kuwait. He previously served as the 28th Chief of Transportation and Commandant of the Army Transportation School and as the commanding general of the 19th Expeditionary Sustainment Command in South Korea. He holds master’s degrees from the Combined Arms Services Staff School, the Marine Corps Staff College, and the Industrial College of the Armed Forces.
Lt. Col. M. Shawn Abbott is currently serving as the director of the Commanding General’s Initiatives Group at the 1st Theater Sustainment Command. He is a graduate of the Quartermaster Basic Officer Leaders Course, the Combined Logistics Captains Career Course, and the College of Naval Command and Staff. He has a master’s degree in defense and strategic studies from the College of Naval Command and Staff.
Capt. Taylor J. Goodwin is currently serving as the G-35 chief of Future Operations for the 135th Expeditionary Sustainment Command in Birmingham, Alabama. He is a graduate of the Ordnance Basic Officer Leaders Course, the Naval School of Explosive Ordnance Disposal, and the Reserve Component Logistics Captains Career Course. He holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Alabama and is currently completing a master’s degree from Asbury Theological Seminary.
This article was published in the Winter 23 issue of Army Sustainment.