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599th simulated exercise executes Army's capstone training doctrine.

During a recent joint combined service exercise in Thailand, 599th Transportation Group leaders identified shortcomings in their Mission Essential Task List proficiency. The team wasted no time to focus on skills that needed improvement by conducting a first-ever Group Simulated Exercise, or SIMEX, that focused on command and control functions.

The two-day SIMEX conducted in November fell right in line with the Army's capstone training doctrine, FM 7-0, which provides the essential fundamentals for all individual, leader and unit training.

The doctrine, which updates the Army's training principles to its current operational environment, was released on Oct. 21, 2002.

"We immediately put FM 7-0 to good use and ensured our training plan was battle-focused and doctrine-based," said Col. Peter J. Gitto, Commander of the 599th at Wheeler Army Air Field, Hawaii.

"The SIMEX provided the ideal opportunity for our operations personnel to follow the Army's enduring and sound training doctrine; specifically, by following the plan, execute and assess process," said Gitto.

Under the expert guidance of Richard Wilson, a veteran transporter and Assistant Chief of Staff for Operations at the 599th, planners laid the groundwork for the SIMEX that was designed to improve the proficiency level of the Group's Crises Action Team.

"We assessed ourselves as a "P"--needs practice in our ability to exercise command and control functions," said Wilson. "We were determined to face and overcome that challenge head on."

This driving force spurred the team to provide effective and timely command and control for a simulated, 16-member task-organized deployment support team, known as a DST, that was deployed to a foreign country to conduct Single Port Manager and port operator functions.

Through the determination of "Trusted Agents" Guy Campbell, Chief of Plans and Readiness, and Maj. Jennifer Smith, Chief of the Command Operations Center, 25 Master Scenario Events List vignettes were developed. Campbell and Smith relied on their combined experiences and input from Information Management and Support function experts to develop scenarios that tested and strengthened the 599th's ability to respond to logistical and communications challenges.

Manning secure phones and classified computers in the group's Command Operations Center, the transportation specialists responded to deployed team members' reports of catastrophic personnel injuries, a local longshoremen's strike, burned-out Worldwide Port System transformers, undocumented hazardous material cargo, terrorist threats and other events simulated from real-world incidents.

At the conclusion of the exercise, planners and operators touted the value of the SIMEX.

"The scenarios kept changing and we got a good dose of adapting and responding to new challenges," said strategic planner Jim Staege, who works in the Command Operations Center.

The exercise provided the right opportunities for team members to closely coordinate details and integrate information within the headquarters, and horizontally and vertically with higher and subordinate organizational staffs.

"We tapped our headquarters experts for solutions and maximized the use of information technology systems," said Dennis Muraoka, who heads the group's terminal management division.

For Wilson, the exercise affirmed a basic fact that he would reiterate time and again to the 599th team--we exist to support the customer. In the case of this exercise, the team's focus was the DST.

The SIMEX hit FM-7-0 on target. The training was realistic, safe, accurate, well structured, efficient and effective--principles spelled out in the Army's training document.

Terri Kojima

Command Affairs Officer

599th Transportation Group
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Author:Kojima, Terri
Date:Jun 22, 2003
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