116th IBCT staff conducts command post exercise to prepare for Warfighter

Virginia National Guard Soldiers assigned to the the Staunton-based 116th Infantry Brigade Combat Team use a magnetic map board to track troop movement during a command post exercise April 14, 2018, at Fort Pickett, Virginia. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Sgt. Saul Rosa)

FORT PICKETT, Va. – More than 350 members of the Virginia National Guard’s Staunton-based 116th Infantry Brigade Combat Team participated in a command post exercise April 12-15, 2018, at Fort Pickett, Virginia.

“I have seen the brigade grow as a team over the past few months as we prepared for this exercise and enhanced our processes,” said Col. E. Scott Smith, commander of the 116th IBCT. “I’m confident we will continue to grow over the next few months and be ready to claim victory at our upcoming Warfighter exercise.”

The command post exercise is a medium-cost, medium-overhead training exercise focused on unit commanders and staff. During the exercise forces and events are simulated in a notional environment as the commander and staff plan, coordinate, synchronize and exercise command and control over operations during a mission. Missions are tracked on computer screens while simulated enemy forces fight back.

The training event involved every asset of the 116th IBCT from infantry, cavalry and engineers to field artillery and support battalions. Joining the 116th IBCT were Air Force representatives from the 118th Air Support Operations Squadron who supported the mission with simulated air assets.

“This command post exercise allowed the brigade staff to take a hard look at our ability to effectively command, control and support our battalions on the battlefield,” said Maj. Brian Gallavan, brigade operations officer. “We are walking away with brigade and battalion staffs that are better synchronized and we will continue our preparations to win against any adversary, anywhere.”

The entire exercise is overseen by 18 observer coach/trainers from Mission Command Training Support Program. Each member of this team is certified through a rigorous training program and are subject matter experts on doctrine and in their specific war fighting function. They play a critical role by mentoring and providing feedback to all staff members from the initial planning phase to the after-action review.

“The 116th IBCT really made huge improvements on planning products over the last four months”, said Peter Combee, the senior training advisor for the Mission Command Training Support Program. “These improvements allowed commanders at all levels to focus on the fight.”

The command post exercise is an abbreviated version of the Warfighter exercise that the 116th IBCT will participate in during this summer’s two-week annual training.

“I am looking forward to taking our experiences and lessons learned from this exercise and applying them to the Warfighter,” said Smith.