NEWS | Oct. 12, 2018

Tropic Lightning Soldiers Hone Skills in Warfighter

By Staff Sgt. Keith Anderson 25th Infantry Division  

SCHOFIELD BARRACKS, Hawaii -- Soldiers from the 25th Infantry Division and supporting units participated in Warfighter 19-01 at Schofield Barracks, Hawaii, from September 30 to October 11.

The multi-echelon exercise tested the division’s ability to manage, direct, and synchronize multiple brigades with air and ground assets under continuous, 24-hour, unified-land operations. Warfighter is a culminating training event and certification for Army corps, divisions, and multi-functional brigades. WFX 19-01 served as the certification for the 25th Inf. Div. staff, the 25the Combat Aviation Brigade, the 25th Division Artillery, and the 25th Division Sustainment Brigade.

The 25th Inf. Div. was supported by Headquarters and Headquarters Battalion to accomplish this WFX, and the 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 25th Inf. Div., provided Soldiers for exercise response cells.

“This training exercise has been an excellent opportunity for us to test our systems and processes to ensure that we, as a division, can provide our fighting brigades what they need to be successful,” said Lt. Col. Doug Serie, the division’s training officer and chief of operations for the night operations.

The Army-directed exercise here involved more than 500 Soldiers, Airmen and multiple mission command elements. During the training, each mission was drawn from realistic combat operations and required multi-domain battle tracking and integrated operations.

The Mission Command Training Program team from Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, deployed a host of observer-controller/trainers to the island to oversee the exercise and give feedback to each staff section as the computer-based scenario moved forward. Each OC/T is a subject matter expert in their respective field and provides professional insight for the sections’ development.

“They are critical to the readiness of division and corps staffs,” said retired Lt. Gen. David R. Hogg, the exercise senior mentor. “They provide an objective set of eyes for the division commander and his staff [and brigades] and are able to get into detail as the exercise goes on.”

OC/Ts regularly shared their expertise with participants with the intent to strengthen the Tropic Lightning’s operations.

“We act as coaches on the sideline,” said Sgt. 1st Class Kevin Allen, OC/T for the division’s Joint Air Ground Integration Cell. “I shared my experiences from past exercises, as well as enabled my fellow Fires personnel to further refine their operating procedures and get stronger as a team for future missions.”

Some of the Soldiers in the exercise learned new roles, and gained new skills, during the exercise.

“This is the first time I’ve ever been a battle NCO,” said Staff Sgt. Derek Wolfe, who previously served as a water treatment section sergeant at the 225th Brigade Support Battalion. Wolfe recently moved to the division’s Current Operations section. “I like it because I’m actively engaged, learning a new system, and helping the fight.”

As the Battle NCO, Wolfe said he developed a better understanding of military operations.

“I get to understand the Army’s operating concept, see the big picture,” said Wolfe.

Working with supporting elements from many different units around the U.S. strengthened the concept of capabilities and provided new lessons for 25th Inf. Div. Soldiers.

“We were a complementary team of teams,” said Chief Warrant Officer 3 Jimmy Lipinski, Chief of Information Collection, 25th Inf. Div. “The exercise was an effort highlighting combined participation from the U.S. Army National Guard and the U.S. Army Reserve, and the U.S. Air Force. “We had one mission, one mindset and one goal – to win.”

Additional units participating in the exercise included the 38th Inf. Div., Indiana Army National Guard, based in Indianapolis, Indiana; the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division, based in Fort Campbell, Kentucky; the 2nd Battalion, 1st Special Forces Group, based at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington; the 109th Expeditionary Military Intelligence Battalion, 201st Expeditionary Military Brigade, based at JBLM; the 25th Air Support Operations, 1st Air Support Operations Group, based at Wheeler Army Airfield, Hawaii; the 303rd Maneuver Enhancement Brigade, 9th Mission Support Command, based at Fort Shafter Flats, Hawaii; the 704th Military Intelligence Brigade, U.S. Army Intelligence and Security Command, based at Fort Meade, Maryland; the 2nd Space Company, 1st Space Battalion, 1st Space Brigade, based at Colorado Springs, Colorado; and the 1st Weather Squadron, 1st ASOG, based at Wheeler Army Airfield.

The exercise allowed 25th Inf. Div. Soldiers to learn about their strengths and weaknesses, said Sgt. Maj. Jerry Tucker, night operations sergeant major for the exercise.

“This has been a really good exercise to see the problem sets we have,” said Tucker. “It’s about painting the correct picture of the battle for the commander, and it’s about looking at ourselves and answering, ‘What can we do better?’”