U.S. Joint Forces Command’s (USJFCOM) joint fires experts trained Marine battalion and regimental staffs preparing to deploy to Afghanistan during an exercise at Camp Pendleton, Calif.
By Casey Bain
(CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. – Aug. 5, 2010) – U.S. Joint Forces Command’s (USJFCOM) joint fires experts trained Marine battalion and regimental staffs preparing to deploy to Afghanistan during an exercise here.
Spartan Resolve, conducted by USJFCOM’s Joint Fires Integration and Interoperability Team (JFIIT), the Marine Corps Tactics and Operations Group (MCTOG) and the Air Force’s 46th Test Wing, included academic instruction, a command post exercise, and a live fire event.
“The training exercise focused on integrating joint, coalition and interagency partners in a live, virtual and constructive environment, replicating conditions commanders and staffs will experience once deployed,” said Marine Lt. Col. James Szepesy, MCTOG’s aviation integration lead . “The JFIIT, 46th Test Wing, and MCTOG team provided the training audience with highly realistic training scenarios and an in-depth, combat-like experience that will benefit the unit as they prepare to deploy.”
The 46th Test Wing from Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., provided MCTOG with a fully functional Theater Battle Management Core System (TBMCS) that replicates capabilities the Marines will have in Afghanistan.
“The TBMCS that we provided Spartan Resolve is the exact same capability and system the Marines will have in theater,” said Fred Chavers, 46th Test Wing engineer. “It’s a critical capability that permits the ground commander to nominate, track and verify targets in their air tasking order (ATO).”
Part of JFIIT’s mission was facilitating connectivity between the TBMCS and the MCTOG staff running the exercise at Camp Pendleton.
“We had the task of helping to work through information assurance issues and other connectivity challenges between the Air Force and the Marine Corps during the exercise,” said Craig Berryman, JFIIT senior analyst. “This was the first time the 46th Test Wing had supported a Spartan Resolve exercise, and we wanted to ensure this unique capability could be fully leveraged by MCTOG and the Marines being trained.”
TBMCS provided Spartan Resolve and the unit being trained with an air operations center-like capability to support Marine staff planning and air support requests, according to Doug Dauwer, 46th Test Wing engineer.
“Another advantage of our capability is that we can publish ATOs and airspace control orders from Eglin and allow the training audience to access and download that information at the training site so they can use it for operations planning and execution just as they will when they’re deployed,” he added.
“An important part of this training equips Marine Corps commanders and staffs with the knowledge they need to use the joint combat multipliers at their disposal when they are deployed,” Szepesy said. “Our goal is to teach Marines how to plan, integrate and employ joint fires and intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) assets in a realistic operational environment, and the tools that JFIIT and the 46th Test Wing provide are an essential part of this training.”
JFIIT assisted the MCTOG in training battalion and regimental staffs with joint fires and ISR subject matter experts to coach, teach and mentor during events like Spartan Resolve for almost two years.
“MCTOG does an excellent job of integrating joint assets to replicate a near-real-world environment,” said Army Lt. Col. John Bowman, JFIIT operations officer. “Our mission is to help integrate joint enablers – like the 46th Test Wing – to help improve the targeting process and reinforce tactics, techniques and procedures (TTPs) that will shorten the unit’s learning curve once in country.”
“One of our unique capabilities is that we provide data sharing interoperability between services and other Department of Defense organizations,” Chavers said. “We were the first Air Force unit to receive the Federation of Net-Centric Sites (FaNS) accreditation. FaNS accreditation greatly enhances the interoperability of network sites to facilitate data transfer around the DoD enterprise and is a crucial part of supporting exercises like Spartan Resolve.”
According to JFIIT leadership, supporting Spartan Resolve and MCTOG is an important part of its mission to improve integration and interoperability of joint fires at the tactical level.
“This kind of pre-deployment training is an absolute necessity for any unit that wants to fight in today’s operational environment,” said Bowman. “Today's irregular warfare environment requires warfighters to fully understand and be able to leverage the capabilities of the entire air and ground team. Spartan Resolve is an excellent example of that principle and we believe JFIIT plays an important role in supporting this outstanding program.”
By working together with JFIIT, the 46th Test Wing and others, MCTOG provides a realistic training environment based on current doctrine and TTPs employed in theater, according to Szepesy.
“Spartan Resolve and our exercise partners provide an incredible resource to training and preparing our battalion and regimental staffs for the challenges they will experience once deployed,” Szepesy added. “The importance of this training can’t be overstated and will ensure our team is ultimately postured for success.”