News: Blackhawks conduct training as ramp-up to NIE 13.1
Story by Sgt. Richard Gilbert
FORT BLISS, Texas — While 1st Squadron, 1st Cavalry Regiment, 2nd Heavy Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division, held a company command post exercise at East Fort Bliss’ Mission Training Center, from Aug. 21 – Aug. 25, as part of a ramp-up to Network Integration Exercise 13.1, the Army also evaluated the Mission Training Center’s capability to support modernized brigade combat teams.
From the perspective of the 1-1 CAV, holding the CPX at the MTC was more than a good opportunity to get a jump on NIE 13.1.
“The Mission Training Center offers us the opportunity to conduct mission command operations at troop and squadron level, while smart folks configure equipment at the motor pool,” said Maj. Curtis Sawyer, operations officer, 1-1 CAV. “Meanwhile our soldiers are conducting new equipment training and new equipment fielding. What’s great about that is simultaneously we’re conducting three lines of effort in order to maximize training value in the limited time we have; the three lines are: equipping, training, and leader development. Moreover, working at the Mission Training Center provides us an opportunity to work on processes and procedures and improve them while working in a controlled environment similar to tactical exercises of NIE but without the troops in the field.”
Not only did the CPX offer great opportunities, but the sentiment of participating soldiers confirmed that those opportunities were exploited to the utmost.
“The CPX helped train up soldiers new to the command post on how to operate equipment and how to get everyone to work together – basically to make sure everyone got the warm and fuzzy feeling before going out to the field,” said Spc. John Walker, cavalry scout, B Troop, 1-1 CAV. “This simulation is a great asset to hone skills while working in the TOC; it was a benefit to all.”
From the perspective of the Army, the CPX was an opportunity to evaluate the MTC and its capability to support modernized BCTs, because the MTC is a system under Evaluation (SUE) as part of the NIE process.
“We are doing an evaluation of the ability of the Mission Training Center to support modernized brigade combat teams,” said Michael McCarthy, Director of Operations at the Brigade Modernization Command-Mission Command Complex. “What we have done is taken our staff and what we have developed in our facilities and deployed a very complex simulation environment to include our equipment to the MTC facilities in order to allow the Army to conduct an assessment of the Mission Training Complex. We have taken what we do at the MCC and moved it to the Mission Training Complex and, working with their staff, are conducting the company Command Post training in preparation for the next NIE. BMC are providing trainers and evaluators, along with others from Fort Benning, Fort Leavenworth and Redstone Arsenal, to train the units and to conduct the assessment of the MTC.”
The triumvirate of Fort Bliss’ BMC, Fort Leavenworth’s Mission Command Center of Excellence and Fort Benning’s Maneuver Center of Excellence were all evaluating the MTC on different levels.
“BMC has observer/ controllers that are there looking at the training results and they are mentoring the soldiers and leaders; they are teaching and coaching and assessing at the same time,” said McCarthy. “Mission Command Center of Excellence is looking at how the companies interact at the battalion and brigade level on those mission command systems that are present at brigade combat teams. Maneuver Center of Excellence is focusing on materiel, doctrine, organization, training leadership, facilities using tactical battle commands, and flow of information.”
Though the official report will not be released until at least 60 days after the close of next week’s Brigade CPX, the proverbial temperature of the exercise can still be gauged by the observer/controllers from the triumvirate.
“I think the exercise is going well,” said Cpt. Pablo Castro Jr., observer/controller of the Training and Evaluation Division, BMC. “The scenarios are strong enough to where we are able to exercise the units on the standard operating procedures and the systems,” said Castro.
Ultimately the relevance of whether or not the MTC is seen as being able to support modernized BCTs is of great significance to the Army.
“It’s a significant investment in developing the live-virtual-constructive integrated environment to support the training needs of units at all levels. If the current MTC’s throughout the Army are to remain relevant they must have the capability to support the complex Mission Command Systems in the operations center at all levels. A successful solution will also allow for a tremendous time and cost savings for training units,” said McCarthy. Simply put “…it’s a way to evaluate and make sure that they continue to provide better quality products and services to soldiers in the most cost effective manner.”