U.S. Joint Force's Command's joint fire experts joined Marine Corps Tactics and Operations Group and other joint enablers during Spartan Resolve, a mission rehearsal exercise, to prepare Marine Corps Regimental Combat Team-8 for its upcoming deployment to Afghanistan.
By Casey Bain
(CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. - Dec. 22, 2010) -- The U.S. Joint Force's Command's (USJFCOM) joint fire experts joined Marine Corps Tactics and Operations Group (MCTOG) and other joint enablers here during a mission rehearsal exercise (MRX) to prepare Marine Corps Regimental Combat Team-8 (RCT-8) for its upcoming deployment to Afghanistan.
Spartan Resolve, led by MCTOG with support from USJFCOM's Joint Fires Integration and Interoperability Team (JFIIT) and the Air Force's 505th Operations Squadron's Joint Integration Team (JIT), 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 Corps Lt. Col. James Szepesy, MCTOG's aviation integration lead. "The JFIIT, 505th and MCTOG team provided the training audience with a combat-like experience that will pay important dividends to the entire unit."
The JIT provided MCTOG with a fully functional Theater Battle Management Core System (TBMCS) replicating capabilities the Marines will have when deployed to Afghanistan.
"Our air tasking order technicians ensured Marine ground forces are familiar with the complex computer systems that will help them to properly request Air Force airborne intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance assets," said Air Force Lt. Col. Denny Lewis, JIT. "This capability will also enable the Marines to monitor the real-time execution of these assets in support of their ground mission."
The JIT also provided remotely piloted aircraft (RPA) mission intelligence coordinators to train the RCT-8 staff on important tactics, techniques and procedures (TTPs) for employing RPAs like the MQ-1 Predator and MQ-9 Reaper.
"Our goal is to ensure the regimental staff understands the capabilities and limitations of assets like the Predator and Reaper that will be at their disposal while they're in Afghanistan," said Lisa Jalbert, JIT intelligence coordinator. "These important assets will provide the overwatch and extra set of eyes for the ground commander while they conduct their combat mission."
Part of JFIIT's mission during this exercise was to enhance the RCT-8 staff's ability to employ and integrate joint fires assets similarto what they will have in theater.
"Our primary purpose was to help MCTOG provide a joint experience for the training audience that replicates current theater operations and improve the unit's ability to leverage its joint fires capabilities," said Craig Berryman, JFIIT senior analyst. "This was the deploying unit's best opportunity to receive this type of mission-essential training before they're in combat."
According to JFIIT leadership, supporting Spartan Resolve and MCTOG is an important part of the organization's mission to improve integration and interoperability of joint fires at the tactical level.
"MCTOG does an excellent job of integrating joint assets to replicate a near-real-world environment," said Army Lt. Col. Alfonso Plummer, JFIIT's exercise lead. "Our mission was to help integrate joint fire enablers to improve the unit's targeting process, and reinforce vital TTPs that will shorten the unit's learning curve once in country as well as enhance their combat effectiveness and ultimately save lives.
"This kind of pre-deployment training is an absolute necessity for any unit that expects to fight and win on today's battlefield," Plummer continued. "The operational environment today demands warfighters fully understand and employ crucial joint capabilities that couldn't have been imagined a few short years ago. Spartan Resolve is an excellent example of providing that mission-like experience to our leaders and staffs that prepares them for success downrange."
According to exercise participants, using TBMCS provided opportunity to leverage a system available to units in Afghanistan.
"The ability to train with systems like TBMCS is an important part of what we need before we deploy," said Army Lt. Col. Dean Hagadorn, II Marine Expeditionary Force (Forward) air future operations planner. "This is the system we will be using in theater to get our aviation requirements on the air tasking order and we can't afford to wait until we're deployed to figure it out."
The importance of this exercise to the deploying unit was clear.
"Spartan Resolve allowed us to hone our staff processes with important joint partners and other enablers to ensure we're prepared to provide coherent and comprehensive command and control throughout our battlespace," said Marine Corps Maj. James Ryans, RCT-8 operations officer. "We will be better prepared for our deployment and be able to maximize the use of all the available assets in theater because of this training."
According to Szepesy, MCTOG will continue providing a realistic training environment based on current doctrine, TTPs and best practices employed in theater by working together with organizations like JFIIT, the 505th Operations Squadron and others.
"Spartan Resolve and our exercise partners provide an incredible resource to our training audience that better prepares our battalion and regimental staffs for the challenges of combat," Szepesy added. "Together, we provide the creative solutions necessary to defeat this irregular warfare threat."