CAMP RED CLOUD, Korea -- A Soldier with the 2nd Infantry Division races through the dimly lit maze of DRASH tents that make up the Division Main Headquarters. He carries vital information that could change the battle for a group of 1st Brigade Combat Team Soldiers that are pinned down by enemy fire.
After his message is relayed to the troops on the ground, they prepare for an incoming chemical attack and fall-back to cover.
Before the enemy is able to carry out the chemical attack, an AH-64 Apache from the 2nd Combat Aviation Brigade roars over the tree line, providing close air support for the pinned down Iron Brigade Soldiers.
With the enemy threat eliminated, the Soldiers are able to continue their mission and link up with members of the Republic of Korea's 101st Regiment to provide security for a group of 48th Chemical Brigade Soldiers who are cleaning up the remnants of an enemy chemical attack.
The Soldier back in DMAIN returns to his post after hearing the simulated troops on the ground were able to carry on with their mission.
From Oct. 30 through Nov. 10, the 2nd ID conducted Warpath III, a simulation-based exercise to test the division's mission command strategies and procedures. The scenario draws heavily on defending the Republic of Korea against the threat of chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear weapons.
The division's 1st BCT, 2nd CAB and 210th Fires Brigade were joined by the 48th Chemical Brigade out of Fort Hood, Texas; the 23rd and 110th Chemical Battalions, and 3rd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd ID, out of Joint Base Lewis Mc Cord, Wash.; and the 130th Engineer and 8th Military Police Brigades from Schofield Barracks, Hawaii. Adding elements from 8th Army and the ROK army made the event a multi-echelon, multi-national training exercise.
"In my 29 years in the Army, I've never experienced an exercise as complex as this one," said Maj. Gen. Edward C. Cardon, the 2nd ID commander.
"No other division in the Army is training for combined, full-spectrum operations like this," said Lt. Gen. John D. Johnson, the commander for 8th Army. "The amount of coordination required to work a Joint, Combined, complex environment against a hybrid threat is tremendous and the division excelled in all aspects."
The level of cooperation between the ROK-U.S. Alliance is a key element in deterring aggression on the peninsula.
"The provocations over the past year have once again demonstrated the danger to the Alliance, and our role is to be ready for whatever may come in the future," said Cardon. "We know North Korea has chemical and biological weapons, and has conducted nuclear testing. As the Army's only permanently forward stationed division, this is very real threat we must prepare for, and this training has been very valuable in improving our readiness under these conditions."
One of the key players in preparing for that threat was the 48th Chem. Bde., who used the event to train as many Soldiers as they could.
"This training event was very important for us," said Command Sgt. Maj. Kenneth Graham, the brigade's top enlisted Soldier. "Everyone from the brigade commander and sergeant major, down to the Soldier working in the decontamination room benefited from this training. We put every collective task from our Mission Essential Task List into this training, with the exception of putting rounds down range."
As the only tactical chemical brigade in the Army, the 48th also had an element in Fort Hood taking part in the exercise. With Soldiers on either side of the world working around the clock, Graham said the division's motto of "fight tonight" resonated throughout his entire brigade.
The 1st BCT was able to train a new group of Soldiers during the exercise, introducing the "fight tonight" mentality to a whole new generation of 2nd ID Warriors.
"After the summer influx of Soldiers into the brigade combat team, the exercise was the perfect vehicle to train new brigade and battalion staffs to come together as an organization in a command post environment," said Lt. Col. Paul A. Henley, the brigade's deputy commanding officer. "It was an amazing thing to witness the positive transformation of our unit staffs into responsive and effective warfighters."
The 2nd CAB was also able to improve their responsiveness during the exercise.
"We started the last exercise with a few growing pains, but by the time we began Warpath III, the processes improved to the point where everything became very systematic, allowing us the opportunity to execute with superior combat power," said Sgt. Maj. Tony Dawson, the operations sergeant major for the brigade. "As we learn and train more on the Tactical Airspace Integration System and the Air Defense Airspace Management Cell's capabilities, it will certainly be a combat multiplier for us."
One of the most important combat multipliers for the exercise was the 210th FiB. The brigade was able to coordinate with both U.S. and ROK forces during the exercise to provide Soldiers freedom of maneuver throughout the battle space.
"We were able to practice providing critical and timely fires in support of not only divisional units, but our ROK counterparts as well," said Maj. Carl Warren, the plans officer for the brigade.
The division commander stressed the importance of the coordination between ROK and U.S. forces, because eventually the division will be at the center of a turning point in history.
"On November 8, 1989, I was a company commander in Germany, and my unit was providing security along the Berlin Wall," said Cardon. "On November 9, 1989, the wall came down; the world changed forever and it was a peaceful transition. On September 11, 2001, the world changed forever again, but this time it was a violent transition. The mission we are doing here is very important, because someday the world is going to change again, and while we hope for another peaceful transition, we have to be prepared for anything."