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‘Durable’ training enhances unit’s efficiency to any combat operation

By Sgt. 1st Class Manuel Torres-Cortes | 1ST SUST. BDE. PUBLIC AFFAIRS | July 24, 2014

A mission to move more than four million gallons of fuel and various other supplies to sustain the Army’s war fighters during an armed conflict is no easy feat.

Vehicle breakdowns, insurgent attacks on convoys and millions of internally displaced civilians clogging the supply routes were just some of the scenario-based obstacles the 1st Sustainment Brigade overcame during its recent Warfighter Exercise.

The “Durable” brigade was one of 10 brigades evaluated in the U.S. Army’s Warfighter Exercise June 15 to 26 at Fort Riley. During the exercise, 1st Sust. Bde. Soldiers conducted theater sustainment operations to support the main combat mission by providing fuel, ammo, food and maintenance support.

“All you do in this business is learn by your experiences,” Col. Robert A. Law III, 1st Sust. Bde. commander, said. “I know how important it is when you’re at the tip of the spear and need the supplies to fight the war.”

Warfighter was designed to evaluate the brigade staff on the military decision-making process and bring Soldiers together into a cohesive group to enhance their mission command capabilities. It was composed of four days of active opposition, a one-day pause to discuss lessons learned, four more days of active opposition and a final after-action review. Preparation for the exercise was more than two years in the making.

“It’s critical to continue to move supplies through the obstacles such as the terrain, the insurgents and internally displaced civilians to get the supplies to the front lines,” Law said. “The sustainers and the logisticians pushing out the supplies are just as critical as the artilleryman, infantryman and tankers.”

The exercise simulated joint, interagency, intergovernmental and multinational operations in a full-spectrum contemporary operational environment.

“Your mission is to ensure the customer receives the goods,” said retired Maj. Gen. Walter Wojdakowski, senior mentor, Mission Command Training Program. “We must ensure that we get all the enablers to help us accomplish our mission in this multi-dimensional fight.”

Every single convoy was a combat operation, Wojdakowski said.

“The enemy is smart and we have to keep moving forward in order to successfully sustain the force,” he added.

Participating in the exercise were about 2,500 service members from more than 20 units coming from 14 states. They included active-duty Army units from Fort Riley and Fort Sill, Oklahoma; National Guard units from California, Colorado, Indiana, Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Mississippi, New Jersey, North Dakota, Pennsylvania, Washington and Wyoming; and Army Reserve units from California and Colorado.

“We started this exercise with a certain level of understanding,” said Command Sgt. Maj. Tomeka O’Neal, 1st Sust. Bde.’s senior noncommissioned officer. “Now that the exercise is complete, we achieved a higher level of proficiency to ensure that the Soldiers on the ground get the supplies they need to accomplish their mission.”

MCTP’s mission is to support the collective training of Army units as directed by the Chief of Staff of the Army and scheduled by U.S. Army Forces Command in accordance with the Army Force Generation process at worldwide locations in order to train leaders and provide commanders the opportunity to train on mission command in unified land operations.  

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