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NEWS | Aug. 11, 2017

Command post exercise tests 529th CSSB’s readiness

By Maj. Jenny Hartsock | 329th Regional Support Group

Virginia National Guard Soldiers assigned to the Virginia Beach-based 529th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion, 329th Regional Support Group, conducted a Command Post Exercise – Function, or CPX-F, Aug. 4-9, 2017, during annual training at Camp Pendleton in Virginia Beach, Virginia. The exercise assessed the unit’s ability to plan sustainment support in a simulated forward-deployed expeditionary environment.

“The exercise was a success in that it provided me a venue to evaluate the staff,” said Maj. Dennis M. Rohler, 529th CSSB commander. “The intent was to progress to a ‘walk’ phase but the Cavaliers of the 529th CSSB pushed through and were running by the end of the exercise. I am incredibly proud of the efforts, desire to improve and dedication to the profession our team showed during this exercise and I look forward to our continued growth.”

The CPX-F challenges the staff to develop their command post, manage tactical information and conduct command post operations, and one of most critical tasks that the team must develop is a common operating picture, or COP, which displays relevant information to more than one command, Rohler explained. The CPX-F also allows the staff to refine and improve their battle rhythms, battle drills and staff processes.

“The CPX-F is a program run out of Fort Lee that provides a scenario in which the battalion staff can work different problem sets,” said Maj. Gen. Timothy P. Williams, the Adjutant General of Virginia. “That program, in partnership with the mission command training support package, is designed to bring the staff to a level of expertise to do their war-time mission to command and control subordinate companies. This helps the unit to understand the environment that they will deploy forward to in order to support maneuver and combat arms units.”

Recently the Army published requirements that increased overall Army Readiness, redesigning the force’s general model to meet the demands of the combatant commander by sustaining unit readiness as they anticipate the next mission, Williams explained. The CPX-F is an unclassified, home-station digital simulation exercise designed for sustainment headquarters staffs and exercises their ability to provide sustainment operations for combat units. The CPX-F also evaluates staff performance and provides feedback in order to improve unit sustainment operations. At the end of the CPX-F, the battle staff is trained and is confident in their abilities to manage tactical operations, Williams said.

This digital exercise utilized a notional scenario that allowed the staff to provide timely and flexible sustainment support to a division. Since this CPX-F was designed as a crawl-walk exercise, the Mission Command Training Support Program, or MCTSP, provided support staff in order to develop proficient staffs and trained operations.

Leading up to the CPX-F, MCTSP provided four months of the Military Decision Making Process prior to the exercise in order to teach the staff how to analyze the mission and ultimately design the concept of support for providing sustainment operations for a division, Rohler said. The Combined Arms Support Command also brought sustainment expertise and scenarios based on near real time operations in theater that forced the support operations section into deliberate planning based on ever-evolving changes and situations, he said.

The 529th CSSB was the first Army National Guard CSSB to utilize the CASCOM CPX-F resource, Rohler said. Senior leaders from U.S. Forces Command, Army Materiel Command and United States Army North visited with Williams as well as Soldiers of the 329th RSG and 529th CSSB Aug. 7, 2017, in order to witness the 529th CSSB in action.

“The Distinguished Visitor’s charter was to look at logistics as a function, and determine what logistic formations need in terms of training to become proficient,” Williams said. “This charge is coming directly from the U.S. Forces Commander and the Chief of Staff of the Army as we need to raise readiness and the Army’s ability to most effectively move into a contested area and fight effectively.”

The senior leaders included: Maj. Gen. Beth D. Austin, Assistant Deputy Commanding General at Army Materiel Command, Maj. Gen. James K. Brown, Deputy Commanding General of U.S. Forces Command, and Maj. Gen. Allen M. Harrell, Commander of the Alabama Army National Guard’s 167th TSC.

“My visit to the National Guard Combat Sustainment Support Battalion Functional Command Post Exercise at the Virginia National Guard Training Center was to evaluate the value of the exportable exercise platform for continued use by National Guard sustainment units,” said Austin. “As the Executive Secretary to the Director of the Army National Guard’s Sustainment Readiness Advisory Council, I have been working with [them] to develop a training strategy for our National Guard Sustainment units.”

The senior leader visit began with an information brief to assist the senior Army National Guard leadership with a decision on the future training of Army National Guard sustainment units. Maj. Lindsey Hodgkins, the 529th CSSB executive officer, and Maj. Jason Detwiler, the support operations officer, provided the senior leaders with a mission overview.

Following the overview, the 529th CSSB leadership along with Col. Weedon Gallagher, the 329th RSG commander, accompanied the senior leaders to the simulation center to see the 529th CSSB in action with the CPX-F. Brown presented the 529th CSSB commander with a coin for the unit’s outstanding performance.

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