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Exercise helps train warfighters

  • Exercise helps train warfighters

  • Exercise helps train warfighters

  • Exercise helps train warfighters

FORT BRAGG, N.C. (Nov. 23, 2015) — Imagine that you turn on the news and see a headline about an aggressive military force invading a country to take control of its natural resources and way of life. The U.S. Army makes a call to Fort Bragg and more than 250 paratroopers are mobilized, ready to assist the invaded nation’s military and fight tonight.

That is the scenario that paratroopers, from Headquarters Battalion, XVIII Airborne Corps, faced as they deployed to Fort Campbell, Kentucky, in early November to train as an operational task force staff during Warfighter Exercise, or WFX, 16-2.

WFX 16-2 is a three-week, multi-echelon exercise designed to challenge all participants by creating the most realistic battlefield conditions through a virtual training environment.

“We’re building readiness. We’re building experience here with a view to keeping our forces ready and living on amber to respond when necessary,” said Canadian Brig. Gen. Simon Hetherington, XVIII Airborne Corps deputy commanding general – operations.”

XVIII Airborne Corps served as the Combined Forces Land Component Command, or CFLCC, for the exercise, providing mission command to eight participating units from both active and National Guard components. Participating units included:

- 29th Infantry Division (Fort Belvoir, Virginia)

- 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) (Fort Campbell, Kentucky)

- 135th Expeditionary Sustainment Command, or ESC (Birmingham, Alabama)

- 10th Sustainment Brigade (Fort Drum, New York)

- 43rd Military Police Brigade (Warwick, Rhode Island)

- 136th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade (Round Rock, Texas)

- 158th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade (Phoenix)

- 169th Field Artillery Brigade (Aurora, Colorado)

The combination of National Guard and active Army forces created a dynamic multi-component team, capable of leveraging unique capabilities to accomplish the Army’s strategic objectives in support of the national security and defense strategies.

Mission Command Training Program, or MCTP, personnel provided the simulated training environment, senior mentors, observers, trainers, coaches, and opposing force, consisting of Soldiers and contractors, to portray a free-thinking, near-peer, hybrid threat. The MCTP supports the collective training of Army units at worldwide locations to train leaders and provide commanders the opportunity to train on mission command in unified land operations.

The deployment began when a small group of XVIII Airborne Corps paratroopers conducted an airborne operation onto Fort Campbell’s Sukchon Drop Zone, jumping out of a C-130J aircraft from approximately 1,000 feet above ground. The paratroopers immediately set up a command post and with help from forces arriving by ground transportation, prepared for combat operations.

Maj. Jim Anderson, battle major and a native of Montgomery, Alabama, initially found the exercise challenging because of the minimal amount of available staff personnel, but said those challenges revolved into lessons learned and increased experience.

“As personnel PCS [permanent change of station] and retire, warfighter exercises like 16-2 help in building camaraderie and esprit de corps,” Anderson said. “The simulated environment can create an environment close to a deployment environment and this helps in building that collective team ready for combat.”

The participating units began combat operations to drive the opposing force out of the country and assist the invaded nation secure its internationally-recognized borders. Professional role players assisted the units with the processes of working with host nation and nongovernmental organizations, or NGOs, during the exercise.

The participating units operated from two different locations. The 101st Airborne Division (AA) and its attached units remained on Fort Campbell while the 29th Infantry Division and its attached units deployed to Camp Atterbury, Indiana. XVIII Airborne Corps paratroopers established the command post on Fort Campbell and performed distributed mission command from Fort Bragg.

Hetherington, who had deployed to Afghanistan with XVIII Airborne Corps last year, recognized that previous training exercises were counterinsurgency-based and that this warfighter is different.

“It gives us the flexibility and the opportunity to train for a broad variety of missions, not simply a rehearsal for a specific mission which we’ve been assigned,” he said.

XVIII Airborne Corps serves as the Army’s joint task force headquarters for the Global Response Force and can rapidly deploy anywhere in the world to provide a full-spectrum package of warfighting capabilities.

“We train to be prepared to go into any environment, working with sister services or allied forces to accomplish any mission at any given time,” Anderson said.

Following their return from Afghanistan last year, XVIII Airborne Corps has participated in a number of training exercises designed to hone the staff’s warfighting functions.

XVIII Airborne will participate as a training audience in the Warfighter 16-4 exercise during April 2016.

Article source: http://www.army.mil/article/159069/Exercise_helps_train_warfighters/?from=RSS

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