News: Behind the scenes with the 75th
Story by Spc. Lindsey Schulte
FORT HUNTER LIGGET, Calif. -- Up close and personal with the 75th Mission Control Training Division for their newest production the Combat Support Training Exercise 91 12-01 playing out at Fort Hunter Liggett, Calif., July 9-29
The screen play of a training exercise like the CSTX is an ever evolving thing, so the 75th became both the writer and director to give the most to their training audience.
The CSTX 91 story takes place in the Caspian Sea region. The 75th has set up the scenario from maps and geographic terminology to give the exercise a realistic feel. The Fort Hunter Liggett set is a good fit for the area surrounding Turkey.
The realistic feel of this production is due to the 18-month dedication and weeklong meetings of those involved. During these meetings, the commanders requested events that would build the battle-skills their units needed. The 75th wrote the missions to accommodate the Commander Training Objectives.
“I think the 75th gave us a great opportunity to train in the areas that are affecting us immediately. For example because we are deploying, some of the situations were changed to accommodate what we need. Shortfalls that we had in training,” said Command Sgt. Maj. Bernice J. Chase with the 55th Sustainment Support Brigade, one of the training audience units.
By using CTOs and the latest training regulations, the 75th write realistic scenarios by taking the advice of soldiers who performed these types of missions in the field.
When we’re writing the event we’ll first of all make sure it’s in accordance with Army doctrine then consult with people that have done that job and have actually been there, said Col. Nate G. Smith with the 75th MCTD, who is the senior Chief of Training for this CSTX.
The 75th’s side of this production is a suspenseful representation of deployed life heavier in story than action.
“I think there is a lot of logistical planning going on, they’re a logistical sustainment unit. . . It’s not an action movie. You will probably not see Tom Cruise, SB Commander, anytime in a theater near you. But there is a lot of activity, and they’re busy, and they’re working, and they’re working hard,” said Col. John H. Bock, with the 75th MCTD.
When an event is crafted, the idea is it will go from the very highest level and effect all the way down to that actual platoon who would then get a mission, said Smith.
The ingenious use and monitoring of the Battle Command and Staff computer programs enables the 75th to call the commanding units to action. These machines track the supply database that simulates consumption rates of a whole force that would be operating in the real world. The commanders of the training units see they are low on supplies and must arrange the for their down trace units to play out the mission on a platoon level.
The 75th also had to cast who would play the training audience’s chain of command. One unit on Forward Operating Base Tusi, on Fort Hunter Liggett and another on Fort Lee, Va., were tasked to be these role-players. Another way the 75th calls for action is by pushing operations orders through the training units’, replicated, chain of command, in the form of fragmentary orders.
They have about 50 back at Fort Lee that are playing all different roles. So you walk in here and they’ll pick up a telephone, I’m Captain So-and-so from the patrolling section and then another phone rings or another e-mail box and then they’re replicating Master Sgt. So-and-so from the S1 section, said Smith.
In addition, 75th tasks Observer Controller Trainers, like assistant directors, to observe and assist with the scenes as they play out on a command level. When a scene doesn’t go right the OC/T and training audience commanders will opt for a retake or change the next exercise for improvement.
She’ll say, "I really need to see this" or "I need that so we may run it again," or we may change it a little bit to emphasize something else she’s trying to do. The ultimate goal is that we’ve increase her readiness against the CTOs that she’s determined are critical, said Bock who worked with Command Sgt. Maj. Chase during the CSTX.
Without the screen writer and director, a production will never be seen. So it is with an Army training exercise. Without units as proficient as the 75th in writing and rewriting scenarios, the best training would not be implemented and no unit would be as well trained for war.