FORT INDIANTOWN GAP, Pa. – More than 600 National Guard Soldiers assigned to the 29th Infantry Division from Virginia, Maryland, Illinois, South Carolina and Tennessee came together to participate in a command post exercise June 18-30, 2019, at Fort Indiantown Gap, Pennsylvania.
“A command post exercise is a training event designed to exercise the entire division staff and support team to establish a tactical command and control position in order to lead and direct subordinate units to execute a specific mission,” said Col. Preston Scott, chief of staff, 29th Infantry Division.
The intent of a command post exercise is to validate and synchronize the decisive, shaping, and sustaining operations from division down through the brigades and across all warfighting functions. The CPX focused on training the various division staff elements and warfighting functions on command and control in a simulated, forward-deployed, combat environment.
“The staff must bring all their respective communications and analysis systems on line and connect through various communications nodes to establish a common operating picture for the commander,” Scott said. “This allows the commander to visualize and direct the actions necessary to accomplish the mission.”
The CPX also afforded the division staff the opportunity to refine their proficiency in the Military Decision Making Process, staff battle drills, and tactical standard operating procedures while conducting command and control utilizing the Army’s Command Post of the Future system throughout the exercise. The CPOF is a fully integrated, networked system used to share, transmit, and analyze real-team mission data.
“This CPX has provided the division the opportunity to understand the current level of proficiency and evaluated how well it can maintain command and control during contested operations,” added Scott. “The staff improved its digital system proficiency and gained greater understanding of how to weave all the disparate flows of information and through solid analysis provide the commander the ability to make decisions.”
Soldiers from several of the division’s down-trace units and support sections served as “digital OPFOR,” or opposing forces, during the exercise, controlling the actions and decisions of the simulated opposing force. This allowed the division staff to utilize their predetermined battle drills and tactical SOPs to react just as they would in a real-world combat operation.
“The training was diverse and interesting,” said Spc. Sebastian Medina, a signal support systems specialist assigned to the Fredericksburg, Virginia-based 229th Brigade Engineer Battalion, 116th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 29th ID, who served as OPFOR for the exercise. “It was great to see the level of hard work committed to test our opponents during this exercise.”
The overall purpose of this CPX was to prepare the 29th Infantry Division for an upcoming warfighter exercise later this year. That warfighter exercise will be used to validate the division’s readiness to execute its wartime mission – to serve as a forward-deployed, combat-ready division headquarters.