Story by SGT David Freydin on 09/20/2016
Soldiers within the Tactical Command Post, known as TAC-1, from the 4th Sustainment Brigade, 4th Infantry Division, participated in Operation Cerberus Strike, a joint training emergency deployment exercise (EDRE), at the Douthit Range Complex in Fort Riley, Kansas Sept 11-13. Meanwhile, Soldiers from 4SB's TAC-2 simultaneously conducted their EDRE training at Pinyon Canyon Maneuver Site, Colorado.
"The purpose of this EDRE is to test the ability of 4SB Soldiers to be ready for deployment at a moment's notice," said Sgt. 1st Class Talanco Thompson, TAC-1 noncommissioned officer in charge. "This was a great opportunity for us to come together as a team, figure out our requirements and ultimately validate our operations."
The operations 4SB set out during Operation Cerberus Strike are the distributed mission command tactics, called DBSR3', which are to deploy expeditionary, build combat power, sustain high intensity combat, regenerate in theater, redeploy via multiple nodes, and restore readiness. In addition, the TACs were timed from the moment the initial notification was given to deploying to a location and being fully operational capable. According to Command Sgt. Maj. Jacinto Garza, 4SB's command sergeant major, Operation Cerberus Strike was an opportunity to exercise the brigade's distribution mission concept while ensuring the TACs are fully prepared to deploy for real world missions in support of decisive action operations.
"We are always looking for ways to hone our skills so when the time comes to go we are fully prepared," Garza said. "We've been gradually getting better. Earlier this year we used Vibrant Response 16 as an opportunity for our TACs to conduct an EDRE and we were able to achieve Level II certification. Operation Cerberus Strike is an excellent opportunity to test our systems by kicking our TACs out on a simulated deployment and continue to get better."
Once arriving to the Douthit Range Complex, TAC-1 began by unloading their equipment and setting up. TAC-1 prepared and transferred several cargo containers of equipment that included tents, camouflage nets, flooring, tables, chairs, computers, satellites, tools, generators and other various items, in order to set up a main tactical operations center (TOC) and conference center.
After working tirelessly throughout their first night, the Rough Riders' were able to alert, marshal, deploy and establish operations to standard within 24 hours, successfully becoming Level III EDRE certified for the first time in its history, according to Thompson.
The overall success of the operation was a demonstration of how 4SB was able to exercise distributed mission command by executing its multi-nodal approach, which consisted of deploying TAC-1 to Fort Riley, Kansas, TAC-2 to Pinyon Canyon Maneuver Site, Colorado, while a mobile command team was established at the National Training Center, Ft. Irwin, California. Meanwhile, the Division Sustainment Operations Center, located at 4SB's headquarters on Fort Carson, served as the mission command team, receiving live feeds from the TACs and in turn providing real time information for all elements involved.
"As a brigade commander, it's very important that I have the most accurate and up-to-date information," Col. Ronald Ragin, 4SB commander said. "The two TACs in Kansas and Colorado sending real-time information to our mission command team at Fort Carson simultaneously allowed the mobile command team at Fort Irwin to make decisions without any delays. Distributed Mission Command allows me to make decisions and provide guidance and direction to command nodes that are a great distance away so they can continue providing the support needed, whatever that might be."
The exercise was a joint effort, conducted in conjunction with support from the U.S Air Force and 1st Sustainment Brigade, 1st Infantry Division, Fort Riley, Kansas. USAF provided assistance by loading and unloading cargo for the mission as well as providing transportation to Fort Riley, while 1SB assisted by providing command and control.
Thompson said that the sister sustainment brigade was very welcoming and that he was impressed with the phenomenal job they did in prepping them for the mission, but there was still room for improvement.
"This was our first EDRE exercise deploying by air," said Thompson, "Normally, we self-deploy so there was a lot of lessons learned, especially as far as equipment and bookkeeping issues go. Even though this was the most compressed time constraint we had to operate under, the team has been very motivated."
Motivation proved to be a decisive factor in successfully completing the mission and overcoming the challenges TAC-1 faced.
"Regardless of the challenges, as a leader, I had to come with a positive attitude," said Staff Sgt. Marcus Williams, TAC-1 assistant battle NCO. "I did whatever the Soldiers did. I had my hands in everything to let know I was in the fight with them."
In keeping with the 4SB's motto "Strong Sergeants, Strong Soldiers", Williams said that it's important to keep morale high in stressful situations like this because the Soldiers are looking at everything their leadership is doing.
Several Soldiers voiced that the EDRE training was a great experience, brought the team closer together and that they gained a lot of new ideas.
"I'm excited because I don't usually get the opportunity to participate in this kind of training. It's been very beneficial to train as we would fight." said Spc. Regina Tetreault, TAC-1 Movement NCO.
The EDRE exercise concluded with a tour for the sister sustainment brigade, detailing specific tactics, techniques, and procedures and meeting face-to-face with the Soldiers.
EDRE exercises like this one will continue into the future allowing the 4SB and other sustainment units to develop their ability to rapidly deploy and become quickly operational in even in the most austere environments.
"This is a 100 percent success," said Lt. Col. Terrance Newman, Deputy Commanding Officer, 1SB, 1ID. "We really like what 4SB has done here. We will bring this concept back with us."