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NEWS | June 14, 2023

Fort Indiantown Gap Hosts Warfighter Exercise

By Brad Rhen, Joint Force Headquarters - Pennsylvania National Guard

FORT INDIANTOWN GAP, Pa. – More than 2,100 service members from multiple states participated in a large-scale Warfighter exercise at Fort Indiantown Gap June 2-11.

A Warfighter is a simulated exercise to train and evaluate Army division-sized elements on mission command in large-scale combat operations.

The exercise’s primary training audience was the New York National Guard’s 42nd Infantry Division. About 600 personnel from the 42nd ID participated.

“The 42nd Infantry Division came here with a mission, to use this Warfighter exercise to train and mentor our noncommissioned officers, warrant officers and commissioned officers on taking their specific skill sets and aggregating them together to accomplish our corps commander’s intent,” said Maj. Gen. Thomas Spencer, commanding general, 42nd ID. “We accomplished our mission and trained how we would fight. I am very proud of my Soldiers and am extremely confident that the Soldiers of the 42nd Infantry Division are ready to accomplish any mission in the service of this great nation.”

Soldiers with National Guard units from Texas, Kentucky, Washington, Kansas and California also participated in the exercise with active-duty Soldiers from First Army, 1st Armored Division and the Mission Command Training Program.

Warfighter exercises focus on command and control rather than large numbers of troops training in the field, said 1st Lt. Tyler Price, Warfighter exercise project officer.

“They bring the headquarters of brigades and divisions, and they actually work their command and control in a simulated environment instead of bringing thousands of troops to a training center,” Price said.

Large exercises like this can pose numerous challenges, Price said. The last Warfighter at Fort Indiantown Gap occurred during the COVID pandemic, so participants had to wear masks, test, eat outside and maintain social distancing.

This year, there was a larger footprint for the exercise because it involved more personnel. Additionally, because smoke from Canadian wildfires created poor air quality, masks were distributed to Soldiers who had to spend time outdoors.

“We’ve overcome some challenges with personnel dealing with real-world issues outside of the Warfighter,” Price said. “The ultimate challenge was communicating with several different units from three different components and seven different states.”

Sgt. Tabitha Hickman, military police support noncommissioned officer, said security can be challenging during such exercises.

“Just ensuring that places are secure, things aren’t brought in that shouldn’t be there and ensuring the overall safety and well-being of those who are on the ground,” Hickman said. “We’ve had a few hiccups, but that’s to be expected at every Warfighter. It’s been mostly smooth, nothing crazy.”

First Sgt. Thomas Nace, mayor cell noncommissioned officer in charge, said the Warfighter involved numerous directorates, including billeting, maintenance, environmental, the community club and police and fire departments.

“The Warfighter project team here at Fort Indiantown Gap was tasked with providing real-life support to all the units participating in the Warfighter, including feeding, housing, transporting and providing security,” Nace said. “While the units have been here, we have been resolving any issue that arose outside the exercise itself in order to provide them with an appropriate environment in which to train.”

Fort Indiantown Gap began hosting Warfighter Exercises in 2016 and typically hosts one per year.



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