News: 90th SB trains at Fort Bragg Warfighter
Story by Sgt. 1st Class Scott Turner
N LITTLE ROCK, Ark. - It's 3 a.m. on April 2nd and Camp Pike, a U.S. Army Reserve center, is bustling with over 150 90th Sustainment Brigade (SB) Soldiers from Little Rock, Ark., and from all over the country. Their mission – to support combat sustainment operations at Exercise Warfighter 14-04 at Fort Bragg, N.C.
Hundreds of olive green duffle bags are weighed and loaded for transportation; personnel need to be accounted for and last minute details attended to and everything made ready for a 5:30 a.m. flight to “Bragg.”
As this is their yearly annual training, this is the big exercise and training event for these Soldiers to sustain the warfighter in theater and to make sure everything their customers need, they have.
To put this exercise into perspective, a sustainment brigade is the heartbeat and the driving force behind the battle. The 90th SB orders and tracks all types supplies to ensure everything that gets ordered is actually received by their customer – the Soldiers fighting the battle. They ensure all units have what they need when they need it.
"Warfighter" is the culmination of the Army Force Generation (ARFORGEN) cycle. The 90th SB is entering their available year and is now available for deployment. “They need to be trained as well as they can be to be available for any upcoming deployment,” said Col. David Hammons, 90th Sustainment Brigade commander. “Warfighter exercise offers the best opportunity to train as a brigade staff to be ready for our available year,” he said.
In addition to training together, Hammons expressed the interest of bringing back a trained and ready staff that can work together with updated Battle Drills – preprogrammed responses and actions to specific events. Through these drills, the 90th will be able to update their Standing Operating Procedures (SOPs) and to hone their individual Soldier skills ready to perform any mission they're called to do, mentioned Hammons.
Getting Soldiers trained and confident in their ability to actually perform their job can be somewhat difficult, but it's not an insurmountable task and "Warfighter" is doing an excellent job at this.
Lt. Col. Robert J. Markiewicz, deputy commander for 90th Sustainment Brigade, expressed that “the Warfighter exercise should be viewed as an excellent opportunity to gain the knowledge of how our systems, operations and warfighter functions work.”
In addition to using the exercise as an opportunity, Markiewicz mentioned they'll be bringing back to Camp Robinson lessons learned and using the experiences gained at annual training to develop a training plan to increase each Soldier's individual knowledge.
This exercise is a learning experience for the 90th , as most exercises are for many units. They'll be incorporating some of the functions at "Warfighter 14-04" that will restructure how they conduct their monthly battle assemblies.
“I've seen a lot of progress in the past few days from these Soldiers,” said Markiewicz. “I know where they were starting and they're slowly making the climb and we're heading in the right direction. If they continue with their efforts they'll be a lot better off at the end of the exercise and as we continue to train, we'll be better prepared for the next training opportunity.”
“The heartbeat of any sustainment brigade is with support operations which is the primary role of the Special Operations (SPO) section,” said Lt. Col. Donna Worthy, Assistance SPO and chief of Distribution and Integration of the Special Operations (SPO) Section.
“I feel confident that all our Soldiers are ready to perform,” said Worthy. In addition to their operation's challenges, the 90th are also short several officer positions and many of their NCOs are serving in two or three positions, – “we're stretched thin,” she said, “and this could delay getting a commodity to the customer.”
Worthy also wants to give all their Soldiers a “hands-on” experience, not just the school house experience, but have them actually engage with the higher headquarters and companies.
“Our Soldiers are highly trained and they know what they're doing, and this is going to be a great exercise and a great opportunity for our Soldiers,” said Worthy.
Command Sgt. Maj. Lorne Quebodeaux, 90th Sustainment Brigade command sergeant major, put it this way - “the biggest thing for Soldiers to realize is that they did receive the training to do this. Some of the Soldiers have not done this as part of their job and our younger Soldiers lack confidence to go out and do it, but I really expect them to excel in handling their job here,” said Quebodeaux.
Staff Sgt. Maj., Bobby Hall, Senior Logistician noncommissioned officer, feels this will be an excellent training opportunity for all his Soldiers. “This exercise will help us come together as a team, and be able to understand what a sustainment brigade actually does,” said Hall. “If they will take this as a mission rehearsal in our ready year, when they come out of this, they'll be ready.”
What many Soldiers actually don't realize, mentioned Hall, is the 90th is now operating under new doctrine; the mission command concept. “They're taking this new concept and proving it will actually work for a sustainment command,” he said.
Since Warfighter 14-04 is a computer exercise they need to be trained on the way the Army and Army Reserve orders and tracks supplies going in and out of theater.
One way is by using specialized logistical tracking databases known as Command Post of the Future (CPOF) and Battle Command Sustainment Support System (BCS3).
CPOF by definition, is an effective way to share live information between units that are not co-located that does not involve sending hundreds of emails between the operators. BCS3 is the primary system for tracking commodities between all US Military services and is primarily used by the Marines and US Army.
For senior US Army Reserve leaders, training could be challenging, but the 90th Sustainment Brigade is getting it done and done right. Warfighter 14-04 has been a challenge - just like any exercise should, but the 90th SB has successfully stepped up and met this difficult challenge head on.