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NEWS | Sept. 20, 2023

Innovating Logistics in the Pacific the 402nd Army Field Support Brigade Supports Talisman Sabre 23

By Aaron DeCapua, 402nd Army Field Support Brigade

The 402nd Army Field Support Brigade (AFSB) deployed in support of the 8th Theater Support Command and Talisman Sabre 23 (TS23) in Australia from June 19 through August 4. This exercise required the 402nd AFSB support in multiple locations across the Pacific Theater, leveraging sustainment and logistics. The key areas of focus exercised for the AFSB were dynamic employment of Army Prepositioned Stock (APS), low earth orbit (LEO) Satellite communications, deploying a forward Logistics Support Element (LSE), and developing command relationships with support teams from the 404th and 403rd AFSBs.

With over 33,000 troops from 13 countries hosted in Australia, this year marks the 10th iteration of Talisman Sabre, a biennial exercise designed to advance a free and open Indo-Pacific by strengthening partnerships and interoperability among key allies.

"The 402nd AFSB supports the Pacific Theater from Alaska to the Indian Ocean", said 402nd AFSB Intelligence Officer Capt. Robert Rendle. "Distance is the primary challenge working in this theater, but ensuring we stay practiced and innovative for training exercises like this leverages logistics for mission success.

The 402nd AFSB served as a Theater Army Field Support Brigade (TAFSB), deployed from its headquarters at Fort Shafter in Honolulu, Hawaii, to Queensland, Australia. 11 members of the 402nd AFSB with signal enablers attached from Bravo Company and the 307th Expeditionary Signal Brigade Enhanced were located in Queensland to integrate and synchronize enterprise equities and support ground tactical units. The units supported were the 2nd Brigade 25th Infantry Division, 1st Armored Division, 16th Cavalry Regiment, 593rd Expeditionary Sustainment Command and 11th Airborne Division.

For the first time, the 402nd Theater AFSB team deployed to Australia and established an LSE west of the international date line and provided the Combined Joint Theater Sustainment Command full-spectrum enterprise support across the theater.

"The 402nd's ability to deploy an LSE forward enables command and control of enterprise equities to give a better common operating picture to the commander, Army Sustainment Command, and Army Material Command for better informed command decisions that support their operations," said 402nd AFSB Capt. Maurice Williams, the TS23 Operations Planner. "It gives a detailed and holistic view of theater operations in the Indo-Pacific area of responsibility."

Before its arrival and throughout the exercise, the Theater AFSB enabled APS dynamic employment and synchronized materiel enterprise capabilities across the Pacific Theater in support of TS23. This exercise supported U.S. Army Pacific Commands' overarching Operation Pathways and demonstrated the Army's power projection capabilities in support of our partners and allies. The 402nd's support included key tasks aimed at ensuring a successful operation.

"It's essential that we reassure our partners and allies in exercises like Talisman Sabre 23; deterrence of future conflict is crucial in this theater," said Williams.

During the months leading up to the exercise, the 402nd AFSB executed its support operations team specialized in the Logistics Civil Augmentation Program Contracts (LOGCAP). This section leveraged contracting management to meet pre-deployment Australian Department of Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries (DAFF) inspection requirements and to ensure the equipment requiring environmental sanitation meets inspection requirements. The 402nd AFSB LOGCAP team worked closely with the 25th Infantry Division and the 8th Theater Support Command, executing DAFF cleaning and inspections before shipment. Performed by contractors and Soldiers, this preparation was essential so that Soldiers could train in Australia with the vehicles and equipment sets required for the exercise.

Before deploying to Australia, the command assessed the need for secure, remote, self-sustaining communications. This requirement allowed for innovation and a new capability due to the long distance between command-and-control cells and logistics nodes between the headquarters on Oahu and Theater AFSB located in Australia. Reliable communication is critical to mission accomplishment of the AFSB in the Indo Pacific Commands theater.

"Communication is key across such large joint operating areas, with teams in multiple locations stretching from New South Wales, Queensland, and the Northern Territory of Australia," said Williams.

"The 402nd TAFSB in Australia tested low earth orbit (LEO) satellite communications to assess if this technology was mature enough for our operations," said Rendle. "The proof of principle for these new LEO satellite communications was a huge success for us; we deployed and used these new out of the box systems with bandwidth to spare. These greatly increased our ability to execute our classified and unclassified communication requirements for theater integration."

The 402nd AFSB focused on integrating and employing personnel, equipment augmentation and providing and synchronizing enterprise support to U.S. Army Pacific.

"Our support of Talisman Sabre took months of effort and synchronization; we employed our ready personnel directly to the tactical point of need," said Williams.

Much of the equipment and vehicles used in the exercise were provided as Army Prepositioned Stocks. These stocks were deployed from locations across the Indo Pacific Command’s Theater into Australia after the required DAFF inspections were completed on Oahu.

Once equipment arrived in Australia, Soldiers employed the equipment in the exercise, and the 402nd Theater AFSB integrated Logistical Assistance Representatives (LAR) and technical specialists to support the military units in multiple training areas.

"At the central command node for logistics, Senior Command Representatives managed the over 50 Logistics Assistance Representatives (specialists) who were aggressively supporting units throughout the exercise," said Rendle.

During Talisman Sabre 23, the 402nd AFSB maintained responsibility for LARs deployed from Army Material Command’s, Life Cycle Management Commands (LCMCs). LARs were essential in supporting the Combined Joint Force in this exercise.

After Talisman Sabre 23 concluded, the 402nd Theater AFSB continued support for the joint force through, the preparation and loading of equipment for transport to locations across the theater, as well as maintenance for future operations.

The 402nd improved techniques and procedures in command and control, employed LOE communication equipment and implemented flexible logistics synchronization procedures, resulting in the successful delivery of combat power to the joint force and strengthening of partnership with allies in the Pacific.

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