The 402nd Army Field Support Battalion-Hawaii supported a successful, multi-island training event for the 25th Infantry Division without ever leaving Oahu.
In the inaugural training event, the 25th Infantry Division set a new precedent, hosting the U.S. Army’s first Home Station Combat Training Center rotation, designed to simulate operations in the Indo-Pacific Theater across multiple islands and terrains.
The 25th ID, with the support of the Joint Readiness Training Center, or JRTC, based at Fort Polk, Louisiana, and the Joint Pacific Multinational Readiness Center, JPMRC, based in Hawaii, designed a training exercise to build combat readiness in America’s Pacific Division while saving significant resources and time.
The 402nd AFSBn-Hawaii’s mission is to integrate and synchronize the delivery of U.S. Army Materiel Command capabilities in support of the 25th ID, both at home station and when deployed. The training rotation allowed the battalion to display and exercise their abilities with installation logistics and power projection support throughout the training rotation.
“The battalion supported the 25th Infantry Division during the training with a Division Logistics Support Element, as we do any time 25th ID participates in a training center rotation,” said Maj. David Paddock, the executive officer for the 402nd AFSBn-Hawaii. “What was especially unique for this training event, because it was the home station, the battalion’s Logistics Readiness Center, or LRC, provided additional installation support operation to accommodate the overall exercise.”
Logistics Readiness Center Support
For a typical training center rotation, the rotational units travel to Fort Irwin, California, or Fort Polk, according to Paddock. Because the rotation was the home station, meaning it occurred where the division is based at Schofield Barracks, the 402nd’s LRC provided additional support to include facilities, dining, and transportation.
“We’ve never had to support a home station training exercise of this magnitude - over half of the division in the field - so there were logistical requirements we had to work through to prepare and execute the JPMRC rotation,” said Paddock.
The LRC portion of the 402nd AFSBn-Hawaii’s mission replaced the traditional rotation support provided by 404th Army Field Support Brigade’s Fort Polk LRC, according to Maj. Latrice Boatner, the support operations officer for the 402nd AFSBn-Hawaii.
Essentially, the 402nd wore two hats; the LRC and DLSE, says Boatner, which gave the team a greater role during the planning of the exercise, and ultimately allowed the 25th Infantry Division the ability to leverage everything the 402nd has to offer the Soldiers.
“Through our LRC, the 402nd AFSBn-Hawaii provides baseline installation and garrison support. With JPMRC, over 500 observers, coaches/trainers, referred to as OC/Ts, traveled from Fort Polk to assist 25th ID with the exercise. We had to adjust our baseline support to accommodate the additional personnel as well as having half of the division still on base, but participating in the exercise,” said Boatner.
The battalion’s LRC at Pōhakuloa Training Area on Hawaii’s Big Island also played a role by providing transportation support to training units moving from port to selected training areas on that island.
Division Logistics Support Element
The scenario included dynamic force employment through distributed operations across four simulated “islands,” with differing terrains on Oahu and one on the island of Hawaii.
In order to mimic the movement requirements, the 402nd assisted with the creation of a prioritized movement plan when units traveled between the “islands” as well as between Oahu and Hawaii islands.
“The fight across the notional ’Haleiwa Island Chain‘ provided multiple dilemmas, not just for the division but for our DLSE as well,” said Lt. Col. Tim Page, commander of the 402nd AFSBn-Hawaii. “The training scenario forced all participants to travel between islands through replicated sea movements with limited availability. The replicated movements gave our transportation office the opportunity to flex their processes for troop movements.”
As part of the training scenario, the battalion’s transportation office assisted the division with creating flight and ship manifests to simulate the transportation of assets between the four islands in the scenario.
“Every time a unit moves, whether it be on land with a convoy or with sea or air movements, our office assists with the coordination,” said the 402nd AFSBn-Hawaii’s transportation officer Raul Ortiz. “The 402nd transportation team played a critical role throughout the exercise to ensure proper processes were being followed to get the Soldiers from one ‘island’ to another. Even though they ultimately drove between the battlefields, it was important to go through the movements if the units were to have to utilize transportation across bodies of water.”
While the transportation office was coordinating various troop movements, the 402nd’s DLSE was on the battlefield coordinating support to units as they would in a real-world large-scale combat operation, commonly known as a LSCO.
“Through its DLSE, the battalion provides logistics assistance forward at the division level,” said Maj. Latrice Boatner. “The training was based on a scenario, but the units needed real-world support for their equipment, and that’s where the DLSE came into play.”
When a unit needs support from the 402nd, usually through Logistics Assistance Representatives or Forward Support Representatives, they had to follow the process they would in the instance of a LSCO.
“The unit in need of support contacts their command, who contacts the division, and then division relays the request to the DLSE,” said Boatner. “Once we at the DLSE receive the request, we work with the Life Cycle Management Command representatives to deploy the appropriate LAR or FSR to the field, with the appropriate equipment, the same way we would in a real-world situation.”
It sounds like a convoluted process, Boatner acknowledges but said the process is set up in this way in order for the DLSE to accurately track AMC personnel and equipment on the battlefield.
“Any operation, investment, or activity that affords our battalion the opportunity to train alongside our supported units and partners is extremely valuable,” said Page. “JPMRC was successful in replicating conditions that allow us to train as we will be tasked to fight. An island-hopping scenario amongst jungle-like terrain via Army watercraft is an incredibly likely mission set that we may find ourselves tasked within the Indo-Pacific Region Theater.”
The next JPMRC home station rotation is an Arctic-based scenario and will give the 402nd an opportunity to implement lessons learned from AFSBn-Hawaii while adapting to the challenges unique to the frigid.