News: Team trains for SWEAT MSO missions during Warrior Exercise 91 13-01
Story by Sgt. Monte Swift
FORT HUNTER LIGGETT, Calif. - Plenty of sweat was shed in the field at Warrior Exercise 91 13-01, Fort Hunter Liggett, Calif., but one group of subject matter experts became familiar with more than the heat of the California sun when they conducted an in-depth SWEAT MSO assessment of a training village just outside Base Camp Milpitas, March 22, 2013.
A SWEAT MSO assessment, which stands for sewage, water, electricity, academics, trash, medical, safety and other, is a mission performed by U.S. forces in areas of operation worldwide. Aside from building good relations with allies, the missions assess the needs of local populations through person-to-person meetings with local leaders, after which a list of plausible projects is determined through the command emergency response program for local communities to choose from.
The mission was led by soldiers of the 844th Engineer Battalion, who took every measure to ensure realism in the training, including route clearance in the days prior, village reconnaissance, attack scenarios, vehicle staging, mission briefings and detailed rock drills with every member of the 13-vehicle team. A select group of experts in the fields of security, engineering, dentistry, preventative medicine, veterinary medicine and education represented a team that would take part in a real-world mission.
Each member of the team added their civilian experience to the mission since each member also performed their job specialty outside of their military service.
“The beauty of Army Reserve engineers is that many of us are engineers in the real world. So it’s kind of exciting to take your civilian skills and cross-deck them in with the military side of it, which is the beauty of the Army Reserve and why we are so valuable,” said Capt. Jeffery Jones, S3, 844th Engineer Battalion, Knoxville, Tenn., who helped plan the mission. “We covered all the positions with [subject matter experts] from various ranks ranging from E4 to O5 who do this in the civilian world as well. It’s a true team of experts.”
The team met with various members of the training village who were partaking in the exercise, and talked to key members including the mayor, the head of the police force and the doctor as well as various citizens. As with a real-world situation, the team received the most requests for food, fresh water and medical supplies.
“I thought it went pretty smooth,” said Jones. “We interacted with just about all the villagers. We developed a pretty good idea about what we think they need, and then we collate that with what we think we can provide.”
Though the team was provided with military police security support, they had to draw a fine line between keeping soldiers on the mission safe, while not appearing too aggressive during the friendly meeting with village leaders. However, the possibility of ambush and react to fire was a key aspect in preparation for the mission.
“Lots of times we focus solely on the tactical side of training, and we forget to focus on the second and third order of effects side of the house. So the focus for us is to go in, assess the village, but make sure we don’t promise anything we can’t deliver,” said Jones. “So in this respect, we didn’t get attacked, but that’s OK. There’s been plenty of other training associated with that. Here, we really focused on the interaction with the people and what the end state of the mission was.”
Feedback received during the mission was sent up the chain of command following the mission, and could potentially lead to a return mission to present the mayor with a list of possible projects.
Throughout the duration of Warrior Exercise 91, soldiers will continue to focus on all aspects of soldier skills from tactical training, to cultural relations and medical aid. The accumulation of the training helps mold the skills of the soldiers and helps prepare them for future deployments.