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201st BfSB Soldiers prepare for deployment

19th Public Affairs Detachment

Published: 11:23AM January 31st, 2013
201st BfSB Soldiers prepare for deployment

1st Lt. Filiberto Martinez

Soldiers from the 201st BfSB practice defending their Mobile Command Post during a night raid at the Yakima Training Center Sept. 14 to 26. “Right now we are working to get all of the battlefield communication systems operational so that we can send and receive data real-time with the forward deployed elements,” said Capt. Andrew Trimble.

In the Army, the importance of training is clearly outlined in Field Manual 7.0, Training For Full Spectrum Operations, “Training is the Army’s No. 1 priority. Training is what we do, not something we do.”

To that end, Soldiers from the 201st Battlefield Surveillance Brigade are conducting training in preparation for both real world deployments and a large scale certification exercise scheduled during the next few months.

At the brigade headquarters building on Joint Base Lewis-McChord, a Tactical Action Center or TAC has been assembled to facilitate communications between senior leadership and the 3rd Squadron, 38th Cavalry Regiment, who will be deployed in support of Joint Task Force North and U.S. Northern Command. “Right now we are working to get all of the battlefield communication systems operational so that we can send and receive data real-time with the forward deployed elements,” said Capt. Andrew Trimble, 201st BfSB plans officer and battle captain. “The technology will allow us to maintain situational awareness with the real-time data. The Army right now is all about digital, real-time communications because it improves your speed and ability to make the right decisions at the right moment.”

Utilizing the Command Post of the Future or CPOF, the TAC will be able to communicate the command’s intent, access the location of the subordinate units on their map system and relay live updates of the mission as it unfolds. While this technology has been used in Afghanistan and Iraq, it is not used on an everyday basis during brigade operations. Trimble said the training was pivotal prior to the upcoming mission when the TAC will run 24-hour operations.

The brigade headquarters is concurrently preparing for the Caspian Sea scenario that took place at the Mission Command Training Center at JBLM. The notional exercise features fictional countries with geo-political disputes; for example, a disagreement over land boundary claims or the funding of terrorists cells. The unit will be called upon in these scenarios to run operations in support of allied nations and against enemy elements.

A key part of the preparation was getting the Soldiers in the right frame of mind to train. To accomplish this, the unit set up their brigade Mobile Command Post or MCP at an alternate location on JBLM Lewis North.

“Sometimes you need to unplug from all the distractions at the office and get back to the basics of planning and soldiering and this is a good way to do it,” said Sgt. Maj. James Scott, 201st BfSB Operations Sergeant Major. “Not to mention for us, this gives us the ability to maintain currency with the logistics of how we pack, deploy and set up our command post. This is a skill many Soldiers are not familiar with in today’s Army because anybody that has been to Iraq or Afghanistan in the last five years — you go there, you get off the plane and there are buildings or tents waiting for you.”

Scott said when he was first assigned to the unit it took the Soldiers approximately 40 hours to set up the MCP. Now, thanks to “phenomenal” effort the process has been reduced to 18 hours. During recent training at the Yakima Training Center, the unit also defended the MCP from a direct attack by enemy combatants.

Training at the MCP, Jan. 22 to 25, was specifically geared toward receiving an order, breaking down the order into the specific staff functions, identifying any deficiencies in supporting the order and developing a plan to complete the mission. These standard operating procedures and analysis skills will be integral to the success of the training exercise at the MCTC.

Despite the specific focus of this training, Scott reiterated the importance of training in general.

“If everyone is not trained, and you don’t know how to do your war fighting functions, then you are going to break down a lot quicker when you start suffering from lack of sleep or anything outside of your normal comfort zone,” Scott said. “When you look at our employer, which are the people of the United States, we are entrusted to provide the legal application of lethal effects. We have to be trained. We have to be disciplined to do that — or we are going to break faith with our employer. That’s not a mission the Army is willing to let fall.”