The staff of the 13th Sustainment Command conducted a rehearsal of concept drills at the Mission Command Training Center the week of Dec. 9-13, concluding several months of heavy preparation with a brief to the unit’s commander.
The staff was given a mission in August to plan theater deployment operations in response to a combat operation in a fictional combat zone focusing on the joint reception, staging, onward movement and integration process of receiving all the personnel and equipment into the theater of operations and preparing them to successfully move out and execute their mission.
“There was a lot of work put into the analysis of the reports, taskings and capabilities associated with this mission,” said Brig. Gen. Clark W. LeMasters, Jr., commander of the 13th. “Each of the staff sections looked through the scope of the mission, through the different phases, and you’ve been able to think through what your role is in this type of operation.”
During the week, LeMasters drilled the staff as they discussed, asking each of the staff officers difficult questions, trying to troubleshoot the plans and test if the staff considered different potential logistical snags that could happen during a joint process operation.
The staff prepared a large detailed map of the fictional area of operations, illustrating all the logistical nodes, shipment ports, aerial ports of debarkation and units on the ground.
“Our job, as a staff, is to look for the logistics choke points,” LeMasters said. “We have to see and anticipate where there are going to be issues with supplying the combatant commanders on the battlefield, and try to work through the challenges to ensure the warfighters can accomplish their mission.”
LeMasters said he saw staff sections come together to collectively solve an individual problem, which was what the event was all about.
“This was great training on the METL (Mission Essential Task List) objective,” said Col. John L. McCoy, officer-in-charge of the 13th’s support operations section. “When you train for the first time on any task, it can be difficult. However, the more you train on that task, the easier it is to achieve success. Having now rehearsed this battle drill, if we get called up to provide for this type of mission, our staff will be better prepared to execute.”
McCoy also said the drill was just as much about training the staff as it was a team-building exercise.
“Exercises like this get the staff to work together to solve a common problem,” McCoy said. “With the staff interaction that happened during the exercise, it has brought the staff closer together and it provided an opportunity for the people to grow and learn the roles and responsibilities of each section, as well as the strengths and weaknesses of the staff, better than they did before.”