Observer/trainers from Mission Command Training Program’s Operations Group Delta partnered with U.S. Joint Forces Command to conduct a mission rehearsal exercise (MRX) which will continue through June 20th at Joint Base Lewis-McChord. The MRX will prepare I (US) Corps to conduct combat operations as part of the NATO’s International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) Joint Command (IJC). I (US) Corps has already deployed an advanced party and the main body deploys before the end of summer 2011. This MRX comes under the Unified Endeavor 11-3 exercise which has seen the commitment of all elements of MCTP.
I (US) Corps deployed to Iraq in 2009 as the Multi-National Corps Iraq (MNC-I) headquarters. This is the unit’s first rotation to Afghanistan but the I (US) Corps Commander, Lt. Gen. Curtis “Mike” Scaporrotti, served previously as the ISAF Regional Command-East Commander in 2010.
As part of the ISAF Joint Command, I (US) Corps will provide support to the government of Afghanistan by working closely with Afghan officials and other NATO Headquarters, provide command and control for counter-insurgency operations, provide assistance to training, as well as equipping the Afghan national security forces. Additionally, they will monitor and manage the transition of overall NATO operations to a sovereign Afghanistan government, currently planned for completion by the end of 2014. British Brigadier Nick Cavanagh said, “Headquarters IJC is a Multi-National Combined-Joint and comprehensive headquarters at the heart of counterinsurgency operations in Afghanistan. Exercise Unified Endeavor 11-3 has been a great vehicle to bring staffs together from many nations to weld them into a highly effective team that is well-equipped for their imminent deployment.”
The MRX challenged the Commander and his staff to work efficiently with NATO’s ISAF Command and six subordinate Regional Commands. Additionally, the unit practiced working with other NATO headquarters elements under ISAF Command, for instance, the NATO Training Mission-Afghanistan (NTM-A). Col. Michael McGuire, Chief of Operations Group Delta said, “IJC made an incredible effort in understanding the complexity Afghanistan entails. Lt. Gen. Scaporrotti and his team were well-prepared for the exercise and certainly ready to take on the tremendous responsibility of efforts in Afghanistan.”
During the MRX, the Corps operated with a fictitious, Afghanistan-like scenario that included NATO forces supporting Afghan units in counter-insurgency operations. They also exercised command and control of a predominantly partnered NATO-Afghan force and had to manage resource prioritization as well as allocation. The staff also developed, planned and executed a single unified communications effort. The Corps staff also had the difficult task of assessing and assisting the Afghan National Security Forces and had to engage with regional Afghan leaders. Among the difficult set of tasks that that the staff had to contend with was sustaining the force in an environment that effectively replicates the logistical complexities of the operational area.
Starting six months prior to the MRX, Mission Command Training Program Operations Group Delta, U.S. Joint Forces Command, and I (US) Corps worked together to design, develop, plan and conduct the MRX. Operations Group Delta had the lead for training and observing I (US) Corps the first week (11-15 June) of the exercise, while U.S. Joint Forces Command will have the lead through June 20th. Throughout the exercise, JFCOM and MCTP were augmented by personnel from Fort Leavenworth’s own CAC-T, V (US) Corps based in Germany, and NATO ISAF subject matter experts either currently deployed or recently redeployed.
The Mission Command Training Program assists the Chief of Staff of the Army in fulfilling his obligation to provide trained and ready units to win decisively on the modern battlefield and to conduct contingency operations. Based at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, the Mission Command Training Program prepares commanders and their staffs for war fighting overseas and in the contemporary operations environment.
Story by Lt. Col. Dave Ambrose, Mission Command Training Program