402nd Supports Inaugural Alaska Regional Combat Training Center Rotation | Article
FORT WAINWRIGHT, Alaska – Army Field Support Battalion-Alaska supported the first large-scale combat operation training in Alaska since 1989. The first rotation of the U.S. Army Regional Combat Training Center in Alaska was designed to increase the Arctic proficiency of all units involved and inform the US Army necessary to implement the Army’s Arctic strategy.
The mission of the 402nd AFSBn-Alaska is to integrate and synchronize the delivery of U.S. Army Materiel Command capabilities for the needs of U.S. Army Mission Alaska. The battalion has used the Regional Training Center rotation to display and practice support and sustainment skills through its Logistics Readiness Centers, LRCs, which enable U.S. Army Alaska to deploy, fight and win in an arctic environment.
“The battalion integrates, synchronizes and provides Army Materiel Command capabilities in support of U.S. Army Alaska requirements,” said AFSBn-Alaska Commander Lt. Col. Terrance Kratz. . “We have increased the capacity of our LRCs to accommodate the increased installation support of the exercise and have employed a Divisional Logistics Support Element, known as DLSE, to advance assistance division level logistics.
Temperatures in Alaska in March can range from 45 degrees below zero to over 45 degrees, with wind chills averaging 60 degrees below zero. During training, the average high temperature was 5 degrees above zero, with the lowest temperature reaching 30 degrees below zero; posing challenges to keep equipment fully operational for the mission, but also to ensure soldiers had the proper nutrition needed to operate in the extreme cold.
Although AFSBn-Alaska is used to extreme weather conditions, it still had to adjust its support requirements.
“Our team had to overcome various weather-related constraints, including the location of the DLSE to optimize our support throughout the training,” Kratz said.
Road conditions and the distance between different training areas affected the battalion’s original support concept, according to Kratz.
“Our original intention was to have the whole team collocated with the division’s G4, or logistics section; However, this meant that our Life Cycle Management Command experts, known as LCMC, had to travel 90 miles over dangerous roads when a request came in from the division,” Kratz said. “We decided to organize the LCMC team near the brigade support area to significantly reduce the time needed for the team to deploy forward, if necessary, while keeping everyone safe. involved a priority.”
Logistics Readiness Center Support
“This was the largest exercise in recent memory in Alaska with personnel coming from Hawaii, Washington State and Louisiana to name a few,” said Major Alexander Wade, AFSBn-Alaska Support Operations Officer. “The capabilities of our Logistics Readiness Centers, LRCs, at Fort Wainwright and Fort Greely ensured that units participating in the exercise had equipment and supplies specific to their missions and the environment in which they were operating.”
LRC Fort Wainwright distributed food, clothing, fuel and ammunition. According to Wade, the battalion issued over 200 pieces of Arctic-specific OCIE, organizational clothing and individual equipment, over 300,000 total rations and over 600,000 gallons of fuel. The battalion also helped units fire over one million rounds of ammunition for the exercise. LRC Fort Greely distributed 30,000 gallons of fuel and transported the unit’s passengers, cargo trucks and equipment.
“A large-scale operation in the Arctic not only informs us of how to improve the support we provide to soldiers with regard to the preparation of equipment; we also identify potential sustainment gaps or risks in field units in the lower 48 countries that we don’t encounter,” Wade said.
The Joint Culinary Center of Excellence, also known as JCCOE, traveled to Alaska during the exercises to meet with soldiers and food service personnel to assess food readiness on the terrain in the Arctic.
According to the JCCOE trip report, one of the challenges that food service teams need to consider is the use of water for food in the field. In addition to keeping soldiers hydrated, water is needed for food preparation in field kitchens and individual MCW (meals, cold weather) rations as the components of the better known MRE (meals, ready to eat) typically freeze .
Handwashing is necessary for sanitation in the field feeding environment, however, when operating well below the point at which water freezes, units need water heating mechanisms that allow handwashing in the field environment and prevent water from freezing while it is being dispensed.
Water trailers used during the exercise had heaters fitted, preventing taps from freezing and providing usable water for handwashing and meal preparation.
“Not everything we learn during drills is how to improve. Drills reinforce processes and procedures that work well,” Wade said. “Based on the JCCOE trip report, the team of visitors were satisfied with the performance of the water trailers.”
Division Logistics Support Element
While the LRCs were busy operating as the exercise support element, AFSBn-Alaska’s DLSE supported the deployment of units to the field with equipment and logistics requirements.
“The DLSE is a division-level asset providing LCMC support, which includes US Army Communications-Electronics Command, US Army Tank-automotive and Armaments Command, and US Army Aviation and Missile Command, to augment readiness,” Wade said. “When units need battlefield support, they go through the DLSE to coordinate what’s called the call forwarding process.”
A DLSE works with the division to prioritize finite resources requested by units.
“Throughout the planning and execution of JPMRC 22-02, it was critical that the DLSE communicate its mission and calling process in order to accomplish our task of validating large scale combat operations capabilities. scale of the U.S. Army in Alaska,” Wade said.
The referral process, Wade explained, involves the unit requesting support through their command who will provide it to the division. The division then forwards the request to the DLSE who then works with LCMC representatives to deploy the appropriate resource to the field.
“The whole point of DLSE comes down to resource management,” Wade said. “The DLSE forms a continuous line of communication from the tactical division to the organic Army industrial base while accounting for all Army Materiel Command assets, personnel, and equipment on the battlefield.”
AFSBn-Alaska’s DLSE responded to more than 400 requests for assistance throughout the duration of the exercise.
Overall, Kratz said, the 402nd gained a better understanding of the environment and readiness requirements, which will position the team to support future Arctic missions.
“We treat every operation and every exercise as a rehearsal to build and maintain a ready force,” Kratz said. “Our team has used the Alaska Regional Combat Training Center rotation as an opportunity to understand, experiment and learn how we can best bring the sustainment and materiel company into the ‘Arctic and will inform how we will fight in the High North should the need arise.”
Planning is underway for the next Regional Combat Training Center rotations in 2023.