FORT RILEY, Kan. (WIBW) -- A major training exercise is underway at Fort Riley as Big Red One soldiers prepare to deploy to Afghanistan.
Unified Endeavor is a command post exercise that's preparing the 1st Infantry Division headquarters to lead a regional command in Afghanistan. The exercise includes more than 2,000 military and civilian personnel from all services and from five different nations, signifying the joint, multi-national nature of the mission in Afghanistan. Units in Germany, Fort Knox, Kentucky and Suffolk, Virginia (another 2,100 soldiers) are also linked into the exercise.
The troops are testing their lines of communication, practicing their response to different scenarios and rehearsing their course of action when receiving an array of intelligence reports.
"What you’ll see here on exercise Unified Endeavor is a realistic state-of-the-art command exercise which is preparing the 1st Infantry Division for the mission we’ll face in Afghanistan later this year. The exercise is multi-service combined and pretty much replicates the nature of the headquarters we find in a combined joint task force. So as you go through, you’ll see a post contingent, our French allies as well, a few Brits, as well as Afghan allies joining us to work alongside American soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines and the civilian component as well," explained Brigadier General Felix Gedney, Deputy Commanding General. Gedney says the goal is to create a cohesive joint task force that is ready to hit the ground running overseas and successfully complete their mission.
"There’s a simulation, a computer simulation that runs in the background and it causes certain actions to take place. It’s like a computer test if you will and it adds to the realism. It gives realistic inputs to the soldiers that are in their different command posts to allow them to run through a series of drills," Colonel Chuck Sexton revealed. Sexton is the commander of the Mission Command Training Program. Sexton said the problem sets that the soldiers are faced with include suicide bombings, ambushes and IED attacks.
"This is the last opportunity we’re going to have to conduct exercises with our coalition partners- both the Polish (Task Force White Eagle) and French (Task Force Lafayette) defense forces that will be operating with us in Afghanistan when we get over there. So it’s more than just a 1st Infantry Division operation, it’s a joint combined operation with both coalition partners and other elements of the US State Department," said Lieutenant Colonel Mike Van Wagenen, G-3 Division Operations Officer.
"The way that the exercise is organized, it’s realistic and it’s very important for all of us to have the feeling that we are playing the real game," added General Eric Hautecloqueraysz, Commander of Task Force Lafayette.
Unified Endeavor training, run by the J7 out of the Joint Staff at the Pentagon, will continue this week on the installation. It is the largest command post exercise to take place on Fort Riley since the return of the 1st Infantry Division from Germany in 2006.
In addition to the division headquarters, Fort Riley's 1st Sustainment
Brigade and 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team are also taking part in the exercise. The troops expect to deploy in the spring.