72 hours of energy for Kentucky brigade

Story by Sgt. 1st Class Rebecca Wood, 149th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade

149th MEB CPX 01

First Lt. Samuel Boulet, a battle captain in the 149th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade main tactical operations center, monitors reports and email during a 72-hour Command Post Exercise June 21-23 at Camp Atterbury, Indiana. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Sgt. First Class Rebecca Wood)

CAMP ATTERBURY, Ind. — Soldiers of the 149th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade conducted a 72-hour Command Post Exercise (CPX) from June 21-23 at Camp Atterbury, Indiana. The units participating in the CPX were the Headquarters Company, 206th Engineer Battalion, 198th Military Police Battalion, 149th Battle Support Brigade and the 129th Signal Company. The main portion of the brigade started training on June 11 for the actual exercise.

The 198th MP Battalion’s operation officer, Maj. Brandon McNeese, was in charge of the battalion’s tactical operation center. He said the 198th also conducted main supply route patrols and convoy security for other elements in the brigade; but the main takeaway was to get back to the field craft training the Army was skilled at before 9/11.

“The overall mission was to come into a theater to set up operations in an austere environment,” said McNeese. “Years ago, before 9/11, we had training like this, but with a lot less assets. It was supposed to be like the beginning of a war, where there is nothing set up and we are initially moving in. We have gotten used to rolling into a forward operations base with established command posts and living areas, and cover down on equipment from other units.”

149thMEB CPX 02McNeese said this training was very helpful, especially to his soldiers who weren’t around before the War on Terror.

“For some of the newer soldiers, this is a very new experience because they never trained like this,” said McNeese, “but they have adapted very well. We had several shortfalls, but their morale and motivation kept them going and we pushed through and accomplished the mission.

“That’s not me,” said 1st Lt. Samuel Boulet, a current operations battle captain for the CPX, while looking around the TOC for the source of the ringing he heard. “Where is that phone?” Boulet barely had a moment to himself, while reports were populating on the Command Post of the Future (CPOF) and phones were ringing off the hook.

As a battle captain, Boulet’s job was to direct the flow of information and resources from the ground and the different sections in the brigade. He said this exercise was to test the brigade’s staff functions and prepare the Soldiers for a warfighter training exercise scheduled in 2016.

“It’s very energizing,” said Boulet. “You feel very plugged into everything that is going on around you.”

On a deployment to Iraq in 2010, Boulet actually worked as a battle captain on a company and battalion level, but he said he learned a lot from this CPX training.

“We did a large bridge gap of knowledge as a team, executing battle drills, tracking info and reports, communicating through missions, and mitigating crises when they happened,” said Boulet. “I wish I had this training before that deployment.”

One administrative specialist, Spc. Brooklynd Decker has been in the 206th Engineer Battalion for five years and was the sole human resources rep for the battalion’s operations center during the CPX. She said she was nervous to be in charge of her section, but felt honored to take on such an important role.

“It meant a lot to me and it was really good for morale, because everyone was important to the operation and had a serious job to do. Sometimes it was difficult to make quick decisions when the pressure was on and I had to communicate with my battle captain on a lot of things,” said Decker. “But overall I felt comfortable in my position, and I knew it was meant to be a learning experience –and I learned a lot.”

Decker and her peers were also enthusiastic about learning battle-tracking systems like CPOF and Joint Combat and Tactical Simulation, because of how they streamline communication between the battalion and the brigade.

“The battalion was so involved in brigade operations, more then we have ever experienced in the past and it gave us all a view of the bigger picture,” said Decker.

“The quality of this training could not have been captured in a short drill weekend. The timing for this type of exercise was perfect and I feel like we should do more exercises like this in the future.”

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