JOINT BASE MCGUIRE-DIX-LAKEHURST, N.J. – Nearly 2,500 soldiers have arrived here to participate in a Combat Support Training Exercise hosted by the Army Reserve’s 78th Training Division, June 8-28.
The three-week CSTX is designed to train and prepare Army Reserve units that are in the fourth year of the five-year Army Force Generation cycle.
“The intent is for CSTX units to achieve and validate that they’ve reached Training Level 2 by the end of the exercise,” explained Capt. Warren Ford, exercise project officer for the CSTX. “That’s the Aim Point for mission-essential task proficiency within the ARFORGEN cycle.”
ARFORGEN is a rotational model that achieves unit readiness over a five-year period in preparation for the unit’s next mission at home or abroad. ARFORGEN synchronizes strategic planning, prioritizing and resourcing to generate trained and ready forces, and the CSTX is an important part of this process.
The CSTX is broken into two phases – a Situational Training Exercise from June 11-16, and an Integrated Field Training Exercise from June 17-26.
“The main difference is the level of integration between units – during the FTX, units are actually mission commanded by a battalion that’s part of the exercise, as opposed to the STX where the exercise provides missions directly to units,” Ford explained.
“The initial phase of the exercise is really broken into two parts – one is a command-post exercise for battalion and above-level units, where they get scenarios that they work on at the battalion staff level without being involved with live companies underneath them,” Ford said. “This allows them to learn and train in an isolated environment without a lot of uncontrollable bits of information coming in.”
“At the same time, the company-level units are going through a Situational Training Exercise where they just get a single mission that they go out and conduct – it’s got a defined start point and end point – and their next mission will be totally unrelated to the previous mission,” he continued.
“During the STX, we try to keep [the units] from impacting each other so we can look at units specifically on an individual basis on their collective tasks,” Ford added. “It gives us a good baseline for the level of intensity we need to provide for the unit once the FTX starts.”
Once the STX phase is complete, the stakes are raised for the Integrated FTX portion of the exercise.
“Once you get into the Integrated FTX, the battalions themselves will then take command of the units that are in their task organization,” Ford said. “All of the missions at that point are interconnected - one unit’s activities impact another unit’s activities.”
“We gradually increase the intensity for all the units throughout the FTX, hopefully culminating in a high operational tempo and a pretty stressful environment for them,” he added.
Army Reserve soldiers from approximately three-dozen units are scheduled to participate in the event, with many units simultaneously training and providing support to event itself. For example, quartermaster units will provide fuel as well as shower and laundry services; transportation units will handle the exercise’s vehicles; and movement control teams will manage the exercise’s many convoys.
“It’s a pretty self-supporting exercise in terms of the unit mix being able to support the things that units need when they train,” Ford said.
Ford also noted a special training opportunity afforded to certain Army Reserve soldiers by Joint Base MDL.
“We’ve got a Military Police unit that’s going to work law enforcement with the 87th Security Forces, and we have two firefighter teams that are going to work regular rotations with the Joint Base firefighters, which is fantastic,” he said. “Those are opportunities that we don’t often get, so we really appreciate Joint Base getting involved and helping get those units trained.”