By Sgt. 1st Class Doug Roles
28th Infantry Division
FORT INDIANTOWN GAP, Pa. – Leaders with the 28th Infantry Division, Pennsylvania Army National Guard, completed a computer-based force-on-force exercise to train commanders, staff officers and their sections on a variety of warfighting functions.
During the two-week warfighter exercise in early November at Fort Indiantown Gap, unit commanders and staff sections rehearsed integrating their individual tasks into the collective effort of defeating an enemy force.
The Army’s Mission Command Training Program provided the scenario in which a fictional enemy invaded an allied nation. Soldiers with the 28th and units from several states set up multiple expeditionary command posts. Working from large tents at several locations, the Soldiers established communications between their bases and participating units around the country. Exercise participants conducted 24-hour operations and reacted to combat-related scenarios, including downed aircraft, chemical weapons attacks and encountering displaced civilians on the battlefield.
“The 28th Infantry Division has done an exceptional job in this warfighter training environment,” said Maj. Gen. Mark McCormack, division commander.
McCormack said WFX 21-2, the second warfighter conducted by the U.S. Army in fiscal year 2021, was comprised almost entirely of reserve component (Army Reserve and Army National Guard) units. The exercise also hosted Lithuanian soldiers at Indiantown Gap through the National Guard State Partnership Program.
“In past warfighters, we’ve operated as a single division. In this warfighter, we actually have a corps from Fort Hood, Texas, and a brother division that is currently in Fort Carson, Colorado, the 4th Infantry Division,” McCormack said. “It makes for a much more robust training environment and also allows us to fight through some of the complexities of communication and shared understanding.”
Units participating in the exercise included the 28th’s division headquarters battalion and the division’s 56th Stryker Brigade Combat Team and 55th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade; the 11th Expeditionary Combat Aviation Brigade, U.S. Army Reserve; 113th Sustainment Brigade, North Carolina National Guard; 278th Armored Cavalry Regiment, Tennessee National Guard; 169th Field Artillery Brigade, Colorado National Guard; and the 116th Cavalry Brigade Combat Team, Idaho National Guard.
The exercise centered around the deployment of a NATO coalition to expel an invading force in the Baltics. The warfighter continued more than 25 years of Pennsylvania Guard Soldiers training with their Lithuanian counterparts.
“During this exercise, we’ve incorporated 15 of our Lithuanian teammates, from the Lithuanian Land Forces, and they’re fully integrated into all of our staff warfighting functions,” McCormack said. “The purpose was to not only have their expertise during this exercise but also to share lessons learned in a complex military operation with coalition partners.”
Participating Soldiers met mission requirements while adhering to COVID mitigation standards. Soldiers at Fort Indiantown Gap wore masks, practiced social distancing protocols and had their temperature taken at the start of each day.
“We were able to complete the exercise and mitigate the impact of COVID,” said Lt. Col. Cory Angell, division spokesperson. “Overall, our numbers of positive cases remained low.”