News: Joint Enabling Capabilities Command exercise reinforces employability, comprehensive skill sets
Story by Whitney Katz
NAVAL STATION MAYPORT, Fla. - Disasters can occur and crises can emerge at any time and any place, without warning. Not only is the Joint Enabling Capabilities Command (JECC) prepared to respond to these unpredictable events at a moment’s notice if requested, but the JECC’s subordinate joint commands – the Joint Planning Support Element (JPSE), the Joint Public Affairs Support Element (JPASE) and the Joint Communications Support Element (JCSE) – bring a level of knowledge and expertise that is not found elsewhere in the Department of Defense.
Over the past six months, the JECC has further enhanced the ability of its members to rapidly deploy and integrate within a joint force headquarters by executing quarterly Mission Readiness Exercises (MRX) intended to validate the employment readiness of personnel assigned to the Ready JECC Package - an alert-postured force which consists of members from each subordinate joint command who are capable of responding to emerging crisis or contingency operations within hours. More than 80 members of the JECC participated in the command’s most recent MRX which was conducted March 25-28 at Naval Station Mayport, Jacksonville, Fla.
Each MRX includes a tailored scenario with an accompanying set of objectives designed to test specific skill sets of each JECC subordinate joint command. For this MRX, which focused on a crisis scenario in the U.S. Southern Command’s (USSOUTHCOM) area of responsibility (AOR); crisis action planning (CAP), joint public affairs guidance and counsel and employment of the Deployable Joint Command and Control (DJC2) system were among the main tasks evaluated.
Unique to this MRX was the participation of eight members of U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command, U.S. Fourth Fleet (USNAVSO/FOURTHFLT), also headquartered at Naval Station Mayport. As USSOUTHCOM’s naval component, it is likely that USNAVSO/FOURTHFLT could be designated as a joint task force headquarters (JTF HQ) during a scenario such as the one exercised during this MRX. Under those circumstances, JECC forces would integrate with USNAVSO/FOURTHFLT’s staff and assist in establishing and operating the JTF HQ. USNAVSO/FOURTHFLT’s personnel offered comprehensive knowledge and familiarity of USSOUTHCOM’s AOR during the MRX’s CAP and further developed staff integration with JECC personnel. Additionally, USNAVSO/FOURTHFLT’s Commander, U.S. Navy Rear Adm. Sinclair Harris, participated as the acting JTF commander.
As experts in joint planning, JPSE members formed the core of three Operational Planning Teams and provided the critical expertise needed to conduct mission analysis and develop course of action briefs based on the scenario depicted during the MRX. Over the last few months, the JECC’s JPSE members have been requested on numerous occasions to provide similar planning support to various combatant command (CCMD) headquarters. The lessons learned during these recent operational experiences were particularly relevant to the scenario and brought an added realism and value to the overall execution of the MRX.
U.S. Army Lt. Col. Derek Christensen, a JPSE member, spoke of the significance of the MRX in validating the readiness of the JECC to respond to the various requirements of the CCMDs.
“This MRX was a great training opportunity enhanced through the participation of U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command / U.S. Fourth Fleet,” he said. “The MRX allowed the JECC leadership to identify quality planners that are capable of supporting any combatant command in any problem set.”
Like JPSE, members of JPASE have also deployed in recent months to provide joint public affairs planning and media support for various CCMD operations. JPASE’s breadth of expertise, especially as it relates to advising senior leadership during emerging events, has repeatedly been proven as a mission essential asset across the full spectrum of military operations. JPASE’s expertise in media operations and joint public affairs accelerated planning efforts and directly contributed to the successful achievement of MRX objectives.
“JPASE’s participation in the MRX provided our public affairs officers the opportunity to integrate with both JPSE and JCSE in a real world planning effort providing public affairs and communication synchronization process expertise," said JPASE member, U.S. Navy Cmdr. Chris Loundermon. "This MRX exercised our role in the execution of JTF public affairs operations through media training for senior leaders and supporting the Joint Operation Planning Process as we prepare to support the joint force commander in the future."
Additionally, the MRX location at Naval Station Mayport, Fla. provided a good opportunity for JCSE to exercise USSOUTHCOM’s DJC2 detachment team and equipment, which is co-located with JCSE headquarters at MacDill Air Force Base, Tampa, Fla. JCSE maintains detachments of 16 members each, who are charged with operating and employing DJC2 systems for USSOUTHCOM, U.S. Africa Command, U.S. European Command and U.S. Pacific Command.
The JCSE USOUTHCOM detachment deployed and set up portions of the DJC2 to provide the entire communications infrastructure for MRX participants. The DJC2 system is capable of supporting a full JTF of up to 1500 users with unclassified / classified network access, however, the versatility of the system allows it to be broken down into reduced-size portions to provide communications to small mobile, missions or mid-size JTFs, similar to what was required during the MRX. These condensed packages have the same functionality as the full DJC2, only on a smaller scale.
“While the DJC2 team deployed in a smaller scope in comparison to standard combatant command support, this exercise was extremely valuable for the team,” the JCSE Officer-in-Charge, U.S. Army Capt. Jason Miller said. “With a real-world deployment, most likely the communications package will come from the supported combatant command DJC2 detachment and these MRXs provide a perfect opportunity to exercise that capability.”
This MRX’s realistic scenario, coupled with plausible objectives and tasks, provided a challenging, yet practical environment to hone JECC employability skills. With each MRX, the JECC further validates that its personnel are not only prepared to respond to emerging crisis or contingency operations, but that the comprehensive team is immediately value-added and capable of effectively executing the joint force commander’s requirements.
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