GRAFENWÖHR, Germany ― Rapidly developing events require Soldiers to make quick decisions. To make good decisions requires timely and accurate information. However, ensuring a good flow of information within a U.S. Army unit is one of the most challenging aspects for any organization.
Though keeping a Soldier informed has always been a task for leaders that requires constant diligence, the exponentially increasing flow of information due to technological advances has made the task of processing and clearly presenting information to commanders an equally difficult task.
Today’s Army now works to integrate the latest information systems to simplify the way a headquarters staff presents information. Consequently, the staff of the 16th Sustainment Brigade, 21st Theater Sustainment Command began executing a Command Post Exercise here Sept. 12 to 16 to train and adapt to the latest systems.
“This exercise mainly helps the brigade and subordinate elements train together and perform the functions needed to deploy, such as daily activities, logistical missions, personnel management, communications management and all the other arenas that encompass the duties and responsibilities of a brigade headquarters,” said Capt. Jae Marquis, the brigade deputy signal officer in charge.
Just as real-time information is continuously changing the battlefield landscape, ever advancing technology and its operational requirements continue to provide challenges that make exercises like the CPX a vital training tool in operating confidently in a deployed environment.
“Different challenges always arise every time you set up the equipment,” Marquis said. “The main challenge was trying to incorporate all of our Automated Battle Command Systems into one functioning network. There were a lot of different configurations that needed to be made and a lot of emphasis on support was required to make sure that all these systems were up to date and compatible with each other.”
Beyond working hard to master the technical requirements of the ABCS, other members of the staff were working hard to ensure they understood the practical operation of the systems and maximizing their potential.
“The challenge for me personally is that this is the first time I’ve done this,” said Master Sgt. James Monteleone, a mechanical maintenance supervisor and the daytime battle noncommissioned officer during the CPX. “I’ve been deployed with the brigade Tactical Operations Center twice now, but both in different environments. This the first time we’ve actually employed all the ABCS at the same time, trying to use their full capabilities, so it’s been extremely challenging, but a great learning experience as well.”
Although many different members of the 16th Sust. Bde. staff found the CPX challenging and frustrating, Col. Keith Sledd, commander of the 16th Sust. Bde. and the trainer for the CPX, knows the value of getting vital training that is typically unavailable in garrison, but invaluable during deployment.
“The CPX helps the brigade prepare for a deployed environment because most of what we do in garrison does not utilize the ABCS, so we don’t really get to exercise the skills that are necessary to exploit their full potential,” Sledd said.
The flow of information is vital for any commander and its value is only greater the higher the stakes are. Consequently, Sledd knows his staff must be able to get him the information he needs in a timely and clear manner.
“I have a vision for what I want the staff to do and part of this is that they learn these systems and they execute the missions that we have, getting them to be able to portray what we’re doing and get me information that allows me to make decisions,” Sledd said.Regardless of the staff’s struggles, the CPX ultimately proved to be an invaluable training and learning experience.
“The biggest benefit of the CPX has been to see how all the ABCS work together how they’re supposed to and the capabilities that they bring. You can hear about it, you can read about it, but when you actually see it in action then it becomes more effective,” Monteleone said.
“Training is always good. The more people do something and the more they refine the systems they are using, the better they get at it and the better the systems get. It’s like driving a car,” Sledd said.