By Lt. Col. James D. CrabtreeOctober 3, 2011
FORT LEAVENWORTH, Kan. -- The 35th Infantry Division ("Santa Fe"), Kansas National Guard successfully reached a number of milestones last week, completing the first-ever division-level Full Spectrum Exercise, or FSX, at Fort Leavenworth, Kan., Sept. 28.
The unit participated in the largest exercise held here in recent years and retired the old Corps Battle Simulation system in favor of the new training standard of Warfighter's Simulation, or WARSIM.
This exercise had a significant impact both inside Grant Gate and outside it. Fort Leavenworth's own Mission Command Training Program conducted the exercise, employing Operation Groups COE, Delta and Foxtrot to provide unit commanders and staff members training to fight and win a campaign which might see offensive, defensive and sustainment operations as well as support to civil authorities -- often with all four missions happening at the same time.
The city of Leavenworth also saw an increase in business as National Guardsmen from seven states had to be fed, billeted and provided transportation. More than $1 million was pumped into the local Leavenworth economy during the exercise, according to an assessment made by the Battalion Staff Training Team and based on numbers provided by 35th Infantry Division.
The primary focus of the training remained on the 35th Infantry Division. Maj. Gen. John E. Davoren, commanding general of the 35th ID, stated after the exercise that he was pleased with the training provided. The training processes of the FSX allowed new lessons to be captured, validating the standard operating procedures of the division. Additionally, the unit gained experience with the modular force design of combat, functional and multi-functional brigades.
Through the use of computer simulation systems, the exercise was confined to the Mission Training Complex instead of deploying units for a real-time exercise covering hundreds or thousands of square miles. Instead of involving thousands of Soldiers, the exercise was conducted with only the hundreds needed to perform the command and staff functions of a division headquarters. The exercise involved National Guard units from several other states, including Illinois, Tennessee, Missouri, Pennsylvania, Arkansas and Alaska.
In the training scenario, the division deployed as part of a coalition effort to protect a friendly country from an invasion and to restore its international border. One of the most useful aspects of this type of training is the management of information on the battlefield. Electronic reports, surveillance video, spy satellite imagery, analysis pieces, GPS locations of friendly units, real-time inventories and live media reports were all made available to the division commander, just as they would be during actual deployments.
Lt. Gen. J. Michael Bednarek, 1st Army commanding general, said the job of commanding troops in combat hasn't gotten easier because of the digital revolution. Instead, good cross-talk and dialog are still necessary to accomplish the mission. According to Bednarek, new technology has simply given us the means determine what is important; in effect, "…to find the needle in the haystack."
Lt. Gen. David M. Rodriguez, commander of the International Security Assistance Force Joint Command, Afghanistan, joined the discussion of the exercise during the after-action review via a video link. He considered the performance of the 35th Infantry Division to be a, "…great team effort from a well-led organization." He also noted that exercises such as this are teaching lessons to MCTP, "…which must be moved to the Army as a whole."
As the after-action review drew to a close at the McHugh Training Center, Davoren said all training objectives were met, and he was pleased with the performance of his Soldiers.
"Good commanders and good staffs produce great results," Davoren said.
MCTP is part of the Training and Doctrine Command's Combined Arms Center-Training, which delivers training programs, products and services to leaders and units in support of Army readiness. Wherever Army training occurs, the Combined Arms Center-Training helps make it happen. To learn more about the Mission Command Training Program and CAC-T, visit http://usacac.army.mil/cac2/cac-t/, www.facebook.com/usacactraining or www.twitter.com/usacactraining.