Command Post Training
By Spc. Roy Mercon
86th IBCT (MTN)
Soldiers with the 86th Infantry Brigade Combat Team (Mountain), in partnership with active duty service members and DoD civilians preformed a successful Command Post Exercise, or CPX during August's drill weekend.''In general, a Command Post Exercise is a staff exercise that does not involve troops in the field," said Col. Andrew M. Harris, deputy commander of the 86th IBCT (Mtn) and Title 32 deputy commander during the CPX. "This allows the staff at the brigade or state level to exercise its skills in the military decision making process." "This particular CPX is an exercise that is focused on defense support of civil authorities (DSCA), which is the portion of our job that relates to the work we do in the state of Vermont," said Harris. " Response to a flood, ice, some problem with a nuclear plant, or some threat to the population in Vermont. "
The CPX was indeed a team effort all around. Harris says that, in addition to 86th IBCT servicemembers, the exercise tested the teamwork of multiple entities, including those in Joint Force Headquarters and various civilian agencies. In an emergency, Harris says these groups would be working together, and that it was important to have a good working relationship with one another, hence the exercise.
The CPX occurred at multiple locations simultaneously, with major portions of the operation being the responsibility of different groups, said Harris. The Joint Task Force, consisting of the majority of the 86th IBCT (MTN) staff, was located at the Ethan Allen Firing Range's Joint Readiness Center, and was augmented with Title 10 (active duty) personnel from U.S. Northern Command (USNORTHCOM).
USNORTHCOM sent a team that assists states with planning missions that involve Title 10 forces under dual-status command authority. This was the exercise scenario that the 86th IBCT (MTN) was practicing, said Harris.
In addition to the Joint Task Force, there were those at Camp Johnson's Joint Force Headquarters, the main post of the Vermont National Guard, on hand to assist in this exercise. "This exercise is multi-echelon, multi-component," said Harris. "It's epically useful to be doing this simultaneously with Joint Force Headquarters because we get to work out all of the processes and procedures that we would need to engage in with them for any future event that might occur in Vermont."
As Title 32 deputy commander, Harris' role during the exercise was to direct all National Guard units, working alongside an active duty Col. in charge of all active duty servicemembers. This type of coordination between active and reserve component units is a new effort in ensuring the mission gets done using all necessary resources in a distinct and cohesive way. In his opinion, the CPX went well.
"I think we started strong," said Harris. "So much of an exercise like this is involved with the preparation that a staff does in advance. Luckily for the brigade, our experience at the Joint Readiness Training Center this past summer brought everyone's skill level to a higher degree. We have a very experienced staff that came to this exercise. The standard operating procedures have already been worked out. It's a nice way for the brigade to continue the training that began at JRTC and keep our skills strong. I think the CPX is going well. The scenario creates a lot of problems for us to solve. "
The exercise is part of a larger model of training, which will result in a large-scale, multi-state, multi-agency training exercise. "Vermont is preparing for a massive DSCA exercise called Vigilant Guard 16," said Harris. "This CPX was a lead-up event meant to help prepare us for that. Because we're going to do VG16, much like we knew we were going to go to JRTC several years in advance, we've been planning small-scale exercises designed to help prepare the staff and Soldiers for the requirements of VG16."