JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash. – This month, the Cold Steel Brigade conducted its third Command Post Exercise with California National Guard’s 40th Infantry Division partners to prepare the division for operational readiness at the Battle Simulation Center at Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, California.
“What I love about these exercises is we get to train ourselves as OC/Ts,” said U.S. Army Maj. Gen. Mark Landes, the First Army Division East commander and exercise director. “Anytime we get feedback from a unit like the 40th Infantry Division, which is reacting so quickly, it’s a lot of fun.”
The ‘Sunburst Division’ Soldiers’ progress since their first CPX earlier this year was evident to the observer, coach, trainers of the 189th Infantry Brigade.
“The 40th Infantry Division has significantly improved in conducting rear command post operations,” said Lt. Col. Amanda Stambach, the lead sustainment OC/T for CPX III and commander of 1-357th Brigade Support Battalion, 189th Infantry Brigade. “With each exercise, the team has made gains in refining their battle rhythm, assigning roles and responsibilities within command posts, and tailoring working groups to fit their needs.”
The training program was designed to have participants work as a team during realistic training scenarios.
“This training path has put this diverse group of National Guardsmen and women through a vigorous regimen focused on simulating a ‘first combat’ experience,” said Maj. Lance Brender, a movement and maneuver deputy and executive officer of 2-357th Infantry Battalion, 189th Infantry Brigade. “Shared understanding is knowing your own business, then telling everyone else who needs to know, too. It sounds simple, but the execution of it in combat is nuanced and difficult. It means distilling a great deal of raw data into pertinent information and, ultimately, a wise decision.”
Each warfighting function team had a distinct role in contributing to the success of the exercise.
“The 40th Infantry Division sustainment team was focused on building a common operating picture and integrating with the division plans cell in order to better anticipate sustainment requirements in support of future operations,” said Stambach. “The Forge team [Soldiers of 1-357th Brigade Support Battalion] conducted analysis to determine the best OC/T support package for the exercise, ensuring we had the right balance of experienced personnel to cover logistics, personnel and medical functions, but not have an overwhelming presence in 40th Infantry Division’s command posts.”
The Cold Steel Brigade prides itself on being a learning community, providing OC/Ts who are experts in doctrine with interpersonal skills.
“The partnership between the active-duty federal force, in our case the 189th Infantry Brigade, and the state Guards is a vital bond of camaraderie trust,” Brender said. “We approach our training days with the 40th Infantry Division as precious opportunities to make them the most ready, most lethal force they possibly can be as they contribute to the security of the free world.”