FORT KNOX, Ky. (Feb. 14, 2012) -- Soldiers with the 3d Sustainment Command (Expeditionary), or ESC, honed their skills during an exercise from from Jan. 23 to Feb. 3.

Unified Endeavor is a mission command exercise, which tests the unit's ability to communicate, command and control its own staff as well as subordinate units, comprised of participating units at Fort Knox, Fort Riley, Kan., and Germany.

According to Col. J.P. Silverstein, the chief of observer/trainers for the Fort Leavenworth, Kan., based Mission Command Training Program, the training exercise is important because most Army units can just go out to the field and train -- but not headquarters units.

Headquarters units need to be tested differently before they deploy, because their mission is different, but no less important because the decisions made in a headquarters affects the lives of the Soldiers under that unit's command.

"Ultimately, in this business, we're talking people's lives," Silverstein said. "It has an effect."

The exercise involves a series of scenarios, simulating events in Afghanistan, which cause the participating units to react. Scenarios include simulated deaths, legal violations, logistical challenges such as gate closures and even VIP visits.

One such scenario for the members of the 3d ESC involved the visit of Command Sgt. Maj. Herschel Turner, the U.S. Army Cadet Command and Fort Knox senior enlisted advisor.

In the scenario, Turner simulated a visit by the United States Forces -- Afghanistan command sergeant major, which gave the 3d ESC's senior noncommissioned officers the opportunity to brief Turner on operations in their sections as well as bring up real issues here at Fort Knox.

For the 3d ESC, Unified Endeavor is the second major exercise the unit has conducted in preparation for its spring deployment to Afghanistan. The first was conducted in November at Fort Lee, Va.

Unified Endeavor focused on mission command and staff integration, said Col. Kristin French, the 3d ESC commander.

"My goal for the exercise is for our sustainers to understand the dynamics and complexity of logistics support in Afghanistan using the scenario-based exercise in a world-class training environment," French said.

French said the exercise prepared the unit for its ultimate mission, the reposturing of forces and equipment from Afghanistan.

"We're going to be intimately involved in the drawdown of equipment and forces," French said.