Story by SFC Sheila Holifield on 03/01/2019More than 25 Soldiers of the 1st and 2nd Logistics Civil Augmentation Program Support Battalions from Fort Belvoir, Virginia, put their program management skills to work during a mobilization exercise Feb. 21-24 at MacDill Air Force Base, Florida.
The exercise sought to mimic the LOGCAP response after a simulated hurricane hit the coast of Florida and established a need for humanitarian disaster relief.
"The concept of the training was to create a rapid deployment exercise with realistic battle drills to support our response as LOGCAP support officers," said Col. Garrett Kolo, commander of the LOGCAP Support Brigade headquartered at Rock Island Arsenal, Illinois.
During the four-day exercise, Soldiers were exposed to the full range of LOGCAP operations. The minus-sized battalions deployed from Fort Belvoir to Andrews Air Force Base, where they were transported via military air to MacDill AFB.
Upon arrival, the LOGCAP Soldiers received their first mission, to set up a Tactical Operations Center capable of conducting an LSO contract support integration supporting Defense Support of Civil Authorities operations.
The second day consisted of classroom training on LOGCAP 101, Statement of Work and Letter of Justification. Seasoned LSOs led each block of training in order to interject scenarios that could happen in theater.
One classroom trainer, Staff Sgt. Jose Vasquez, an LSO with 2LSBn, returned from Afghanistan in November 2018. He was able to share his expertise as part of the mobilization exercise to help each Soldier become familiar with the LOGCAP process.
Typically, in theater, a logistics management specialist is the subject matter expert on the ground. The LSO's role is to figure out how to establish a battle rhythm working as a team to accomplish the overall goal.
Vasquez, who was the LSO counterpart to the civilian LMS while stationed at Bagram Airfield, brought back a road map of sorts to show LOGCAP Soldiers the job at hand while in theater.
"The road map explained, in a nutshell, the entire LOGCAP process from start to finish," said Vasquez. "This is important, because to new LSOs, it is a tool to help them understand the general flow of processes."
Another experienced LSO, Sgt. 1st Class Jamal Lewis, and LSO with 2LSBn, agreed with Vasquez and offered additional advice throughout the classroom training.
"Ninety percent of the LOGCAP process is about building relationships," said Lewis. "Get to know the key players so you can meet the mission and be a successful LSO."
Lewis, who has deployed three times overseas with the LOGCAP Support Brigade, knows first-hand and was one of the key players in ensuring realistic training occurred during the exercise.
"In simple terms, we wanted to make sure LOGCAP Soldiers understand what LOGCAP is," said Lewis.
For a newly assigned LSO the mobilization exercise did just that. Capt. Matthew Wilcox, who transferred into the 2LSBn in January 2019, was pleased with the caliber of training.
"Coming from the Medical Service Corps, I didn't know about the duties of an LSO," said Wilcox. "It was extremely beneficial to complete hands-on training and also get feedback onsite."
Once the classroom training was complete, the 1LSBn and 2LSBn Soldiers divided into teams with each team assigned a different area of operations and request from the requiring activity. The LOGCAP Soldiers followed various master event scenario lists, or MESLs, to create their statement of work and letter of justification for their plan to support the requiring activity.
"It was important to keep the scenarios realistic. LOGCAP operations supporting military units and other government agencies conducting humanitarian operations are similar to the disaster relief in Puerto Rico from Hurricane Maria," said Lt. Col. Adrian DeRyder, commander of the 2LSBn and director of the mobilization exercise.
As each team was battle-focused on preparing their statement of work and letter of justification, the leadership upped the ante and declared a cyberattack.
"This is the exactly what we wanted to accomplish: training which would get their minds thinking through all scenarios and provide an opportunity to put the LOGCAP processes into practice," said DeRyder.
The culminating portion of the exercise was a simulated Joint Readiness Review Board, where each team presented their statement of work and letter of justification before the commander, the command sergeant major and the staff sections.
"This was an opportunity for us to ask the hard questions and see if each team conducted a proper analysis," said Lt. Col. Rodney Smith, commander of 1LSBn.
In theater, the JRRB is an opportunity for the LSO to brief their plan and obtain approval.
"In my 34 years as a TPU, this was the most dynamic training I have experienced," added Smith. "From the Military Decision Making Process, throughout all the phases, it was totally value added."
The mobilization exercise concluded Feb. 24 with the LOGCAP Soldiers conducting re-deployment operations from MacDill AFB back to Andrews AFB and then back to Fort Belvoir.
The LOGCAP Support Brigade provides ready Soldiers who are LOGCAP technical experts in support of global combat, peacetime and humanitarian relief operations to facilitate and deliver Army readiness through all phases of military operational planning and execution in order to deliver LOGCAP contracted services in support of Unified Land Operations.