Story by U.S. Army Lt. Col. Jennifer Bocanegra, 1st Cavalry Division Public Affairs Office
Fort Irwin, CA – For the past two months, armored brigade combat teams from the 1st Cavalry Division conducted training at the National Training Center. While improving the brigades’ lethality is a key training objective, commanders must also learn to leverage combat support capabilities including logistics to be effective on the battlefield.
1CD Sustainment Brigade commander, Col. Anthony Wilson, has travelled out to NTC multiple times during the armored brigade rotations to oversee logistics support for the First Team and to coach and mentor junior logistics officers on maintaining readiness, team building and supporting the commander’s intent.
“Sustainment and logistics have to be there to perform and support during the planning and execution phases of training and real-world operations,” Wilson said. “Sustainment includes food, water and logistics as well as accountability of personnel across the battlefield.”
While two 1CD brigades, 3rd Armored Brigade Combat Team and 2nd Armored Brigade Combat Team participated in the 21-day training rotation, the 1st CAV Sustainment Brigade provided phased support to assist units with building and maintaining combat power from home station to Fort Irwin, CA and then, with regenerating and redeploying equipment back to Fort Hood, Texas.
“We began the first phase in February at home station with building combat power and ensuring all equipment was fully mission capable,” Wilson said. “We continued to build combat power once units arrived at Fort Irwin and prepared to go into the training area or “The Box.” Success comes when maneuver units are able to execute force on force against the opposing force during the training rotation.”
The 1st CAV commander, Maj. Gen. John Richardson also emphasized the significance of sustainment to maneuver units in order to maintain momentum during the fight.
“A big consideration for battalion and brigade commanders is sustainment,” Richardson said. “Especially in an armored formation, a commander’s ability to sustain their force is key. They can be a great tactician, but without logistics support, they won’t be able to maintain the fight.”
Throughout the rotation, sustainment leaders at the battalion, company and platoon levels must push a variety of classes of supplies by land or air from the rear area forward to the front lines.
“There are a few things that keep a Soldier’s morale up and receiving meals on time is one of them,” Maj. Rob Pough, executive officer for 2ABCT said to sustainment teams as they provided back briefs on plans for logistics support to an upcoming operation at NTC.
During Wilson’s trips to “The Box” or training area, he visits sustainment teams from the division support area to the service support units on the front lines and offers coaching and mentoring to help younger leaders understand the fight and how they can sustain the fight once maneuver battalions come into contact with opposing forces.
“Sustainers must understand the commander’s intent and anticipate supply requirements,” Wilson said. “If a commander is going into the offense, a logistician should anticipate a demand for fuel and ammunition. If the commander is going into the defensive posture, they will need more Class IV supplies such as construction materials to set up barriers and Class IX supplies like repair parts to start maintenance operations to get their fleet back up.”
Once brigades come out of “The Box” training area, they will enter a regeneration phase which lasts for 10-12 days and provides units an opportunity to clean and repair equipment so they will be ready for potential follow-on missions.
“During the REGEN process, Sustainment Brigade deploys a six-person team to work behind the scenes to get parts in to rebuild combat platforms from nine different systems including tanks, Bradley’s and Paladins,” Wilson said. “The goal is to return combat brigades back to home station at a 90% or better readiness rate with the ability to assume upcoming missions anywhere in the world.”
“In the 1st CAV Division, we have a saying, ‘Sustainment drives Op Tempo and enables commanders to fight and destroy the enemy.’” Wilson said. “Our team consistently leans forward to ensure commanders successfully achieve their mission objectives.”