News: Sustainers embark on historic mission
Story by Sgt. 1st Class Gary Cooper
FORT KNOX, Ky. - More than 200 3rd Sustainment Command (Expeditionary) soldiers completed their certifying training event, or CTE, at the Mission Command Training Center, here, Feb. 3-13.
Third ESC is about to embark on an historic mission of safely recovering and returning military equipment from 12 years of war, transferring and closing bases, all while providing sustainment to those still in the area of operations. The CTE is one of the final training landmarks on 3rd ESC’s road to war.
“The purpose is to simulate what the soldiers will actually do in Afghanistan, by creating the same atmosphere and situations they will see downrange,” said 3rd ESC G4 Assistant Chief of Staff Lt. Col. Erik Jablonski.
“It’s realistic and stressful, because they are throwing things at us that we didn’t encounter in previous exercises,” said Jablonski.
Col. J.P. Silverstein, chief of Operations Group Sierra, from Fort Leavenworth’s Mission Command Training Program, said the CTE simulated what will be a historic mission for 3rd ESC.
“The mission is not only historic because they are closing out Afghanistan, it is historically challenging, because Afghanistan is landlocked, with high elevation, limited lines of communication, and seasonal weather extremes, from harsh winters, to dust storms and flooding,” Silverstein said.
Silverstein said the exercise was designed to reflect these difficulties, and that 3rd ESC rose to the challenge.
“Third ESC is a phenomenal, aggressive unit. The scenarios are complex and multi-dimensional. Everything MCTP has thrown at them they (3rd ESC) have attacked with vigor. Most importantly, it is obvious they were prepared for this exercise,” Silverstein said.
Third ESC also impressed 310th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary) Munitions Chief Maj. Bernice Spencer, acting as Regional Command Central commander during the exercise.
“They are already asking a lot of the right questions. They are very adaptable, eager to learn, and they take it very seriously,” said Spencer.
Regional Command Central commander is one of several roles played by the white cell, which acted as a higher command during the exercise.
“Third ESC called us in to train them up for their upcoming deployment,” explained Spencer. “All of us have deployed, so we used our background to walk them through the exercise.”
Jablonski expects the training to pay dividends downrange.
“It’s good because it shows us how we need to adapt our current policies and procedures. It challenges us and allows for creative learning,” Jablonski said.
Maj. Gen. Darrell Williams, 1st Theater Sustainment Command commander, praised 3rd ESC via video teleconference during the CTE’s after action review.
"I am very impressed with your command climate, and the 3rd ESC soldiers who went to Afghanistan for an over the shoulder look performed extremely well while in Afghanistan," Williams said.
Command Sgt. Maj. Edward Bell, the 3rd ESC senior enlisted adviser, said the training was outstanding, especially considering the recent departure of key personnel within the unit.
“Third ESC senior staff has had a 50 or 60 percent turnover due to retirements, changes of station ... and this was the first time we were really able to gel and to come together and put together some great products in order to go forward and deploy,” Bell said.
As the AAR concluded, 3rd ESC’s commander, Brig. Gen. Flem B. “Donnie” Walker Jr., expressed his confidence to the soldiers, “I have trust in all of you to perform the mission at hand.”