By Colleen Flaherty
Fort Hood Herald
Lt. Gen. Donald M. Campbell Jr., III Corps and Fort Hood commander, is leading a coalition force of thousands against Arianan troops that have recently invaded the sovereign nation of Atropia.
"What (the Atropian president) has to do, working with the international community and coalition forces, is restore stability and security," Campbell told a mock Pentagon press corps Monday, a week into the III Corps Warfighter Exercise designed to prepare it for theater command and inform Army doctrine. III Corps is tentatively scheduled to command operations in Afghanistan next spring.
"I've got a mission from my higher headquarters to expel the Arianan troops and restore the rule of law," Campbell said, referring the made-up nations in the South Caucasus.
The war game is the first of its kind in the Army in more than 10 years and the first ever of its scale - encompassing 5,500 III Corps and other troops, as well as Air Force, Navy and civilian security agency support from across the country. It has III Corps brushing up on traditional nation-on-nation ground operations while building on counterinsurgency lessons learned during the past 10 years of conflict, said exercise director Col. Charles E.A. Sexton of the Army's Mission Command Training Program at Fort Leavenworth, Kan.
"It's been a long time since we fought anyone with a tank, and it's been a long time since we've fought anyone with an air force," he said. "We're proofing all these tried and true methods while incorporating some of the new designs (learned during the last decade)."
Continuing, Sexton said of III Corps, "They're blazing the trail for us."
That's no easy feat, said Campbell, adding that he'd begun to plan for the exercise since assuming command of Fort Hood in April 2011. "The Army has invested a great deal of time, money and manpower in preparing III Corps for execution of the first warfighter exercise since 2001."
III Corps accelerated planning for the precise Caspian Sea scenario - which echoes Russia's 2008 invasion of a breakaway province of Georgia - in February. Since that time, III Corps received and monitored mock United Nations resolutions and other situation updates, until it launched its full-scale invasion on June 9.
Since the beginning of the exercise, troops have been getting little sleep in the simulated, crisis deployment scenario.
"This stretches the corps to the very limits of its capabilities," said Sgt. Maj. Thomas Deane, the III Corps' senior civil affairs noncommissioned officer. Although Deane said he was focused on engaging the civilian population of Atropia to determine how they could both positively and negatively impact the corps' efforts there, everyone has a hand in carrying out the exercise.
"This is an enormous team effort and the results lie in the combined efforts of everyone involved."
The warfighter exercise, which also includes battle drills, ends later this week.
Contact Colleen Flaherty at firstname.lastname@example.org or (254) 501-7559. Follow her on Twitter at KDHFortHood.