Key leaders and staff from the 45th Infantry Brigade Combat Team (IBCT), Oklahoma Army National Guard, participated in a two-week, 24-hour, continuous command and control exercise at Camp Atterbury’s Joint Maneuver Training Center, near Edinburgh, Indiana, from 5-14 June 2018.
Warfighter 18-5 (WFX 18-5) is a joint computer-simulated exercise conducted to train and test Army forces on command and control procedures and communication. The exercise focused primarily on the 34th Infantry Division (ID, also known as Red Bull), Minnesota Army National Guard (MNARNG), as its primary training audience. The 45th IBCT, 146th Air Support Operations Squadron (146th ASOS), Oklahoma Air National Guard, and 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team, 34th ID, MNARNG, provided realistic response to the 34th ID’s command decisions.
“We’re here at the brigade level in the Tactical Operation Center to assist the 34th (ID) Red Bull,” said Col. Chris Chomosh, commander of the 45th IBCT. “We’re battle-tracking our brigade and subordinate units across the digital battlefield as we feed information to higher commands. We’re also taking the intent of those higher commands and putting it into action.”
The Soldiers participating in the large-scale battle simulation managed the combat operations of almost 8,500 land personnel with everything related to the warfighter including planning, movements, information gathering, manoeuvring forces to the fight, medical evacuation and logistics. The 45th IBCT assessed their own corresponding staff functions which included human resources, medical service support, intelligence, operations, logistics, fires, aviation and signal.
“Here, we synchronize the components to create a cohesive battle plan,” said Maj. Michael Scanlon, operations officer for Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 45th IBCT. “This is a great first look at our developmental needs – our strengths and especially our weaknesses – so that we know where to focus improvement, which is ultimately geared toward deployment.”
Last year alone, the 45th IBCT deployed units to Afghanistan, Iraq, Kuwait, Kosovo and Ukraine, as well as supported domestic operations in Houston, in the wake of Hurricane Harvey.
“The exercise allows us to work on our staff skills and hone our processes to better support the brigade functions,” said Chomosh. “We’re utilizing all of our war fighting capabilities, so that we’re ‘always ready and always there’ to respond to missions, both in peace and in war.”
Both, first-time participants and those who have deployed, gained valuable new experiences during WFX 18-5.
“I deployed in 2011, but seeing these operations in such a large scale – at the brigade and division levels – is really cool,” said Spc. Kevin Staton, aviation operations specialist for HHC 45th IBCT. “We don’t often get the opportunity to take these systems out and work so closely with fires. It’s really good training.”
The continuous and close-quartered nature of the exercise also allowed the 45th IBCT to work with their joint partners like the 146th ASOS, who accompany them on missions that require close air support.
“Over years of deployments and training, we’ve created a continuing working relationship,” said Chomosh. “The more frequently we work together in exercises like this, the more comfortable we are with each other and the Air Force to better perform missions in a joint environment.”
Photo By Staff Sgt. Kasey Phipps