News: 13th SC(E) officers conduct staff ride at a pivotal battlefield for Texas independence
Story by Maj. Joseph Odorizzi
LA PORTE, Texas – Officers from the 13th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary) visited the Battle of San Jacinto state historic site here April 17 to conduct a leader professional development session; the culmination of a three-part study on the fight for Texas independence.
Lt. Col. Craig Martin, 13th SC(E) intelligence officer, began planning for the event in February and developed a three-phase approach in order to study the entire scope of the battle and the events leading up to it. Officers analyzed the strategic and operational levels of the campaign in two classroom sessions on March 27 and April 10 and focused on the tactical aspects of the battle during the staff ride.
“The Battle of San Jacinto and the greater Texas campaign for independence was chosen for its proximity and because a lot of the lessons learned from that campaign apply to U.S. Army war-fighting doctrine of today,” said Martin. “A three-phased event would allow the staff to gain a perspective and appreciation for all three levels of war. Ultimately, this was our goal since the 13th SC(E) operates as an operational headquarters and must understand and coordinate up, down and across these levels.”
Dr. David Chrisman, history professor at the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor, assisted in the event. He led the first phase in the classroom by providing a lecture which covered the strategic context surrounding the campaign and the greater operational environment. Additionally, Chrisman attended the staff ride, adding insight, a historical perspective, and intimate details not generally found in history books through expertise gained from his extensive study of Texas history.
“It was refreshing to see Soldiers engaged in active learning and the application of history,” said Chrisman. “It was also very nice to see so many of the 13th [SC(E)] prepared for the staff ride. The Soldiers of the 13th Sustainment Command are wonderful, and it was an honor for me to participate in the exercise.”
The key to success of the entire professional development session, according to Martin, was the integration of the staff into the research and analysis of the battle.
“The staff ride deepened the staff’s understanding of each other and the terrain surrounding San Jacinto, including the importance of how the terrain and long supply lines affected the logistical challenges,” said Martin. “It also provided a great example of what it means to have a militarily dominant force overcome by extended lines of communication, poor morale, and even poorer decision-making.”
The 13th SC(E) staff was divided into groups representing the six war-fighting functions: movement and maneuver, intelligence, fires, sustainment, command and control, and protection. During the second classroom session and at the battlefield site, the groups presented their analysis based on the war-fighting function assigned to them. This allowed for every officer to have direct involvement in the learning process.
“My greatest take away from the event was the camaraderie built with the other officers who attended, “said Maj. Lou Castillo, assistant operations officer with the 13th SC(E). “Texas has a long, proud history that provides Texans with a strong sense of independence and state pride.”
The Battle of San Jacinto, fought on April 21, 1836, in present-day Harris County, Texas, was the decisive battle of the Texas Revolution. Led by Gen. Sam Houston, the Texan Army engaged and defeated General Antonio López de Santa Anna's Mexican army in a fight that lasted just 18 minutes. Approximately 630 Mexican soldiers were killed and 730 captured in the battle, compared to only nine Texas soldiers killed.
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