For two weeks, members of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Logistics Activity (ULA) Logistics Support Teams (LST) participated in a Forward Engineer Support Team—Advanced (FEST-A) training exercise in Vicksburg, Mississippi.
Much of the exercise took place on the U.S. Army Engineer Research and Development Center (ERDC) campus, with additional elements taking place around the town including the Vicksburg Municipal Airport.
The goal of the exercise was to familiarize the LST members with other key players and processes that would be involved during a FEST event, including Contingency Real Estate Support Team (CREST), Environmental Support Team (EnvST), ERDC, and even Naval Facilities Engineering Systems Command (NAVFAC) personnel. Madison Jones, Donald Vernon, Augustus Hector, Duane Burk, Christopher Haney, and Capt. Gewel Hamer attended the exercise on behalf of the ULA with Norbert Zimmermann, ULA Operations; Steve Maybank, logistics management specialist from the South Atlantic Division; and Jennifer Hollis-Mayweather, logistics management specialist for the Great Lakes and Ohio River Division, supporting as the logistics instructors for the exercise.
“The cross-training with EnvST, CREST, ERDC, and even NAVFAC was the most valuable part of the training,” said Zimmermann. “When deployed as part of a FEST-A, the LSTs need to understand what the role of each of these organizations [is] and how our efforts can help support them. This exercise accomplished that mission.” Zimmerman has been supporting the exercise for nearly a decade, along with Maybank. Hollis-Mayweather joined the instructor team in 2022. This exercise will be Maybank’s last as he moves on to retirement. His knowledge of the program will be greatly missed.
“Because the LST usually consists of a small number of personnel, it is imperative that we work as a team and leverage the resources and assets already available in the theater of operations. From installations support in the continental U.S. [CONUS] to sustainment operations outside of CONUS, the logistics team must be resourceful, extending our capabilities well beyond our numbers,” said Maybank. “For the LST training, we learn to build synergy and to build relationships within our group and with other specialty teams, such as CREST and EnvST. The students learn through collaborative exercises, where the instructors serve as facilitators and guides. In this environment, conducive to learning, the students gain knowledge from each other and from the training material.”
SOME OF THE DISCUSSION TOPICS INCLUDED:
- Supply and Services in a Contingency Environment – The students review forms and records used in supply management, property accountability, and property disposal.
- Transportation and the Defense Transportation Regulation – The students review basic transportation management, including coordinating installation deployment planning and support, transportation documentation, and container management. The students also complete an exercise for passenger services, cargo procedures, and mobilization processes, using the Defense Transportation Regulation.
- Logistics Staff Organization and Structure – The students learn to form the logistics staff for a contingency engineering district.
- The Transatlantic Playbook – The students review logistics from Operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom, extracting both positive and negative actions.
- Phases of Logistics Operations – Through group exercises, the students understand the phases of logistics that are staples of support. These phases include Deployment Planning; Joint Reception, Staging, Onward Movement, Integration (JRSOI); Sustainment Operations; Drawdown and Closeout; and Redeployment Planning.
- Sustainment Support – The students learn to write a statement of work for life-support operations (vehicle acquisition, ground maintenance, supply and services, transportation and movement services, etc.). The students learn the basic concept of the statement of work, such as the purpose and format.
- Capstone Exercise – The Students participate in a joint exercise with the FEST, CREST, and EnvST, in which there are collaborations across engineering and logistics specialties. For the exercise, the teams develop base camp products and brief a senior officer on their findings.
Chris Haney, district fleet manager for Galveston, is new to the LST program. This was the first training he attended. He said the training has given him confidence that he can support an LST when called on.
“This exercise helped me prepare, because it gave me a better understanding of how we would deploy as part of the Corps,” Haney said. “From a logistic standpoint, deploying an organization comprising of both Soldiers and civilians has special considerations that need to be taken into account, as opposed to deploying a normal Army unit.”
Haney added that the ability to work within diverse groups added to the experience.
“I think the most valuable part of the training is the group work, culminating in the capstone exercise,” Haney said. “This is because it takes you out of [your] comfort zone and pairs you with other disciplines and requires you to work together as a team to come up with a practicable course of action to accomplish the mission.”
It was a long two weeks for those in attendance, only taking Sunday off. But the time invested was necessary to ensure all parties were up to the challenges faced when supporting logistical needs during a FEST.
“I think it is necessary that this takes place over a two-week period because you need those first few days to understand what your role on the team would be,” said Haney. “If you have never been on an LST before and they just went into the capstone, you wouldn’t really know how CREST, EnvST, LST, and reconnaissance and construction all play a part in the big picture.”