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Exercise Positive Strike

The 10th Sustainment Brigade conducted an off-post culminating exercise to ensure that it was capable of conducting full-spectrum operations.

When the 10th Sustainment Brigade leaders set out to prove that the brigade was capable of short-notice, full-spectrum operations, they planned an exercise with a construct and design that were more complicated than the local training area could accommodate. The brigade needed to train on providing an expeditionary theater-opening capability for the Army Forces Command in support of contingency operations.

The 10th Sustainment Brigade commander wanted to emphasize training on all systems and capabilities across the battalion formations, including sustainment, signal, Soldier support, and military police operations. He wanted to draw on the expertise of the Sustainment Center of Excellence at Fort Lee, Virginia, to help train and certify his force. The brigade's concept involved a complex off-post training exercise that emphasized real-world deployment tasks not routinely associated with the Iraq or Afghanistan counterinsurgency areas of operations.

Spartan Field Kitchen
Senior staff officers review the analog tracking board and examine the distribution problems associated with the Caspian Sea mission command scenario.

Moving the Troops

The culminating exercise, named Positive Strike, commenced with the movement of multiple elements of the brigade from a premier force-projection platform at Fort Drum, New York, to Fort Indiantown Gap, Pennsylvania, and to Forts Eustis, Lee, and Pickett in Virginia. The exercise started with a 96-hour alert and notification order and used out-load support teams to facilitate forcible-projection tasks associated with short-notice or no-notice alert, marshal, and deploy tasks. All operations required capabilities identified in the new sustainment brigade full-spectrum operations mission-essential task list.

Instead of moving the troops by commercial aircraft, the transportation integration division of the brigade support operations office designed a complicated multi-modal force projection scheme of maneuver. With this plan, 12 separate march serials were used to deploy hundreds of personnel across 5 states using Army rail operations, Army boats, and even the Amtrak railroad network.

The early-entry element served as the advance party, convoying to Fort Eustis to conduct ship-to-shore loading and discharge operations on a logistics support vessel provided by the 7th Sustainment Brigade. After discharging on the James River, the early-entry element conducted onward movement to Fort Pickett to occupy a forward base, command follow-on forces, and practice reception, staging, onward movement, and integration.

Conducting the Exercise

The expeditionary brigade headquarters established a tactical operations center, force protection operations, and life support operations. The scenario was set in the Caspian Sea region and simulated movement into an austere theater. The training focused on mission command, warrior tasks, battle drills, and field craft skills.

To maximize exercising mission command, the brigade turned to Fort Lee's Logistics Exercise and Simulation Directorate (LESD), a subordinate element of the National Simulation Center. LESD provided exceptional simulation support by adding realism, stress, and rigor through a partnered design, planning, and execution process.

Spartan Field Kitchen
The 10th Sustainment Brigade expeditionary command post before final camouflage and force protection measures were applied.

Despite the relatively short timeline (just over 2 months from planning to execution), LESD and the 10th Sustainment Brigade planning staff together produced an exercise scenario tailored to meet the unit's unique training objectives. Rather than developing a traditional high-intensity conflict or counterinsurgency scenario, the team built a logistics scenario based in a semipermissive region that mirrored recent humanitarian support and disaster relief missions in Haiti and Pakistan.

LESD's knowledgeable operators and planners assisted the unit in creating a scenario to focus the brigade staff on its specific sustainment mission in the complex and evolving theater of operations. They did this using the Joint Deployment Logistics Model (JDLM), a powerful computer program designed to simulate sustainment operations from company- to theater-level commands.

One of JDLM's many strengths is its ability to pass information to the Battle Command Sustainment Support System (BCS3). Using BCS3 in the tactical operations center ensured that the units being trained and the exercise control cell maintained a logistics common operational picture.

JDLM provides a level of information fidelity far beyond what most end users expect. It is capable of replicating all Standard Army Management Information System information. It can track troops and equipment locations and status, supply-stockage levels, and personal data, including names, ranks, blood types, and other details for Soldiers operating in a simulation.

The baseline scenario used for the 10th Sustainment Brigade focused on logistics tracking and forecasting theater requirements, including classes I (subsistence), III (petroleum, oils, and lubricants), V (ammunition), and IX (repair parts) requirements. The staff provided aid and support to displaced civilians, conducted multiple mission-analysis drills, monitored movements, maintained visibility of all commodities and stocks, exercised contingency contract services, and rehearsed multiple unit battle drills and boards, bureaus, centers, cells, and working groups—all driven by injects (scenario changes) from the exercise control cell.

Spartan Field Kitchen
The 10th Sustainment Brigade deputy commander conducts a staff huddle while exercising mission command.

Simulating the Mission

To support the 10th Sustainment Brigade at their field site, LESD dispatched its entity resolution federation team, which is dedicated to supporting stand-alone brigade-and-below-level exercises. The team deployed with a full simulation suite (nine computers and other necessary hardware) to the field training site. The 10th Sustainment Brigade provided a dedicated network switch for the simulation network, reliable field power for the computers, and an exercise control cell tent in which the team operated.

The Positive Strike exercise marked the first time in recent history that LESD deployed hardware and support teams to an austere operating field site, complete with concertina wire and deployable rapid assembly shelters, and made use of a tactical signal company and a recently fielded containerized kitchen.

During the exercise, LESD personnel operated the exercise control cell on site, providing the 10th Sustainment Brigade with the flexibility to make short-notice adjustments to the simulation. This met the commander's intent of developing adaptive, creative leaders, who routinely think and solve complex tactical and sustainment problems.

Because tactical support equipment is portable, staff training exercises and command post exercises can be conducted at various locations. In contrast, constructive simulation exercises are traditionally supported in fixed battle command training centers, which are brick-and-mortar facilities with existing infrastructure to support system architecture requirements.

Moving the simulation architecture to a tactical field environment presented some unique challenges related to generator maintenance, maximum possible power output, communications, and weather effects. However, the result was an exercise that blended a traditional field training exercise with a constructive simulation, providing a greater level of realism and stress.

The exercise validated the concept of integrating field and simulation training environments for holistic scenarios at the brigade level and below. The use of the constructive simulation proved to be effective and efficient, with a reduced cost and a high level of satisfaction for the unit. Given LESD's flexibility and the benefit of joint simulation and live training, training exercises such as this will likely become the norm in the future as the Army continues to explore ways to make training more effective and cost efficient.

The culminating exercise produced a headquarters capable of deploying on short notice anywhere in the world in support of full-spectrum operations. The 10th Sustainment Brigade has been certified as the Nation's sustainment quartering party of choice, with a battle staff that is competent in all battlefield environments, including offensive, defensive, stability, and support to civil authorities. It is prepared to excel, fight, and win in any expeditionary environment.

The commander of the 10th Sustainment Brigade evaluated the exercise, saying, “LESD enabled our Soldiers and leaders to exercise mission command by incorporating complex simulation right in the middle of our field training exercise, affording us to meet our training objectives. We achieved our certification due to all the support provided us. It was responsive, tailored to our needs, and affordable. We are indebted to their professionalism.”

Colonel Kurt J. Ryan is the commander of the 10th Sustainment Brigade, 10th Mountain Division, at Fort Drum, New York. He holds a bachelor's degree from York College of Pennsylvania and is a graduate of the Combined Logistics Officers Advanced Course, Logistics Executive Development Course, Army Command and General Staff College, and Army War College.

Captain Matthew K. Ferguson is a logistics staff officer in the Logistics Exercise and Simulation Di-rectorate, National Simulation Center. He holds a bachelor's degree from Wheaton College in Illinois and is a graduate of the Ordnance Officer Basic Course and the Combined Logistics Captains Career Course.

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