CSTX realism provides ready Soldiers
David F. Moore/ USASA-Fort Dix Staff Writer
As a convoy of large Army tactical water trucks traveled on Route Mongoose drivers halted by concertina wire, then ambushed at the rear of the line of trucks by a simulated enemy opposing force.
The mission for the Soldiers of the 146th Transportation Company, of Ogden, Utah, was a real-world water delivery to a forward operating base (FOB) built and operated by Army Reserves combat support Soldiers participating in the 78th Training Division’s Combat Support Training Exercise (CSTX) at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, N.J. The ambush scenario was part of the training to evaluate combat and survival skills for an organization that could be available for homeland support or overseas deployment.
Military police of the the 351st Military Police Company, of Ocala, Fla., return fire, while dismounted and mounted, at an opposing force and protected the unit's wounded after their convoy travelling on Route Mongoose on a security mission. The attack came after another convoy held up by a road block and vehicle borne improvised explosive device detonated. (Photo by Capt. Antonia Greene-Edwards/174th PAO) Sgt. Joshua Diss, of the 79th Military Police Co., headquartered in Rochester, Minn., with his opposing force team step out of the woods to attack a convoy held up on the road by being blocked by an obstacle and simultaneously having a simulated vehicle borne improvised explosive device detonate. (Photo by Capt. Antonia Greene-Edwards/174th PAO) Sgt. Joseph Wilder, of the Army Reserves 762nd Transportation Company, Cadiz, Ohio, backs up a five ton truck in an effort to tow another damaged one in a simulated attack as part of the Combat Service Training Exercise that wraps up June 28. Wilder, serving as a part of convoy, was on a mission to deliver equipment and water to a FOB needing the resources when they were attacked. . (Photo by David Moore/USASA-Fort Dix Sgt. Luis Castro, of the the 439th Quartermaster Company headquartered in Middletown, Ct., fuels a humvee participating in the three-week long Combat Support Training Exercise at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst. The refuleing point was setup near the unit's bulk fuel storage area. (Photo by David Moore/USASA-Fort Dix)
Lt. Col. Jeffrey Carter, located at the exercise control center who is the deputy chief of staff of training for the 78th, explained five FOBS were used to house the nearly 2,500 Soldiers taking part in the three-week long event that wraps up June 28. Real world missions were handed to units requiring Soldiers living in FOBS to support one another by providing fuel, food, showers, water, and force protection to keep areas operating around the clock.
On the road or at the FOB, Soldiers faced a host of tactical training challenges leaving their camp or squashing a riot at an entry control point on any given day.
“As a result of 12 years at war, there has been a paradigm shift in training. In short, commanders own their training and the resources for what they need to take to training or the battle. The days are gone of thinking we are going to get needed items to support operations along the way,” Carter said.
“When I was a young Soldier seeing a first sergeant carrying an extra duffle bag I wondered why. I soon realized in the bag was four extra blankets for those Soldiers who forgot them,” he added.
As the Soldiers of the 146th towed damaged vehicles and trailers from the attack area, military police of the 351st Military Police Company, of Ocala, Fla., arrived on scene. Travelling in the opposite direction, the 351st were also ambushed but this time a simulated VBIED exploded adding to the confusion. The MPs, who reacted fast but experienced casualties, eventually silenced the small arms fire.
Sgt. Joshua Diss, of the 79th Military Police Co., headquartered in Rochester, Minn. , served on the opposing force, roveing the U.S. Army Support Activity-Fort Dix brush creating the realistic-like training environment.
“This is a great opportunity observing all the mistakes a unit can make and also what Soldiers can do well. As a member of the opposing force I get to learn from the mistakes and take away a unit’s successful tactics,” Diss said.
“This CSTX model for training is vital to us as Reserve Soldiers to keep our skills honed,” he added.
Skill sets used to provide training oversight came from the Army Reserves 75th Training Command’s Atlantic Division and observer –controllers trainers for battalions and above, while other observer controllers from 78th and First Army’s 174th Infantry Brigade provided their expertise at the company or below level.
The 75th served to provide the commanders and staff a digital simulations command post platform so senior leaders facing tactical challenges can find solutions based on the latest Army doctrine. For this exercise six teams, each led by a lieutenant colonel, set the conditions to improve coordination between a commander and the respective staff.
“Throughout the exercise, based on an inject sent down to the unit. The OCT-Ts see how the coordination and staff are working by using the military decision making process,” Col Joseph Skarbowski said. “We see how the commander and staff are working and assist them with their challenges throughout the exercise.”
Staff Sgt. Maria Correa, a 78th Division observer controller who operated a lane, explained each unit, travelling to her area coming into her zone are assessed for how they perform identified Army Warrior Tasks while under attack and recover damaged equipment. In the case of the convoy water delivery, Soldiers had to treat the wounded while at the same time recover equipment since one vehicle was destroyed containing an over-road hauler transporting a bulldozer. As a result Soldiers facing a threat had to separate the truck from a trailer containing a bulldozer and reattach it to another vehicle in an effort to continue the mission.
“What we’re seeing during this training is that the first time a convoy comes under attack, the Soldiers make mistakes. But the second or third time either here or up the road when they are faced with the situation again seem to have muscle reflex to do things right,” she said.
During the training, Army Reserve fuel handlers being assessed during the exercise set up fuel storage berm sites to provide the capability to refuel tactical vehicles on the move. 2nd Lt. Raquel Lorenzetti, the acting commander for the 439th Quartermaster Company presently headquartered in Middletown, Ct.
“This exercise is designed to train the Soldiers at their jobs and to fuel vehicles and send them up the road exactly what they would do down range,’” she said.