Wing plays major role in supporting Unified Endeavor

by Noel Getlin
505th Command and Control Wing Public Affairs

2/22/2010 - HURLBURT FIELD, Fla. -- More than 100 members of the 505th Command and Control Wing helped prepare U.S. soldiers for their upcoming deployment to Afghanistan.

The wing provided communications and network integration, wargaming computer simulations, exercise planners and observer/controllers for the exercise held at Fort Campbell, Ky., and other locations.

Pre-deployment training for the 101st Airborne Division culminated with Unified Endeavor, a two-week mission rehearsal exercise for Army and joint forces.

Both the Army and U.S. Joint Forces Command customized realistic scenarios to challenge the warfighters in theater; anything from close-air support to artillery fire to local Afghan customs was addressed in the capstone training event.

"We facilitate training for the Army by providing the missing parts of the exercise," said John Drain, 505th Combat Training Squadron deputy exercise task lead. "When a Soldier talks to a pilot in the cockpit, we provide the radio and the voice of the pilot at the other end to make the training realistic."

These "controllers" interact with Soldiers in the virtual environment, and from their computers they are able to simulate aircraft participation as seen on radar screens by the ground commander.

The 505th CTS Modeling and Simulation Flight took an active role in helping to create the environment with different air warfare simulators. The flight ensured the Air Force models integrated seamlessly with joint service simulations resulting in more than 30,000 sorties from 13 air tasking orders during the exercise.

The 505th Communications Squadron provided communications planning and connections to link 505th CCW and the Army Joint Support Team systems with all other units participating in the exercise.

"The communication networks are designed and configured to allow us to simulate a Combined Air Operations Center response cell," said Roger McIntosh, plans and programs lead and communication planner of the 505th CS. In addition to integrating numerous simulator systems, they also provided instant messaging, simulated radio systems, and e-mail services for the exercise.

The Army Joint Support Team, an Army unit assigned to the U.S. Army Combined Arms Center that is habitually partnered and located with the 505th CCW, functioned as the liaison element for the Army ground component in support of the Joint Forces Air Component Commander.

"These guys are Battlefield Coordination Detachment instructors," said Sonny Clark, deputy director of the AJST. "They synchronize air and ground operations" by deconflicting and processing air tasking orders.

The 505th CCW Detachment 1 Airmen served as subject matter experts and observer/trainers in the exercise. They provided the training audience with air and space power expertise and advised the ground command on weapons systems, ordnance, tactics, procedures, capabilities and limitations as they affect Army force structure, modernization and training. Det. 1's primary focus is to support the Battle Command Training Program exercises and events such as Unified Endeavor.

"They coach, teach and mentor the Army and Air Force participants in the use of airpower," said Lance Harwell, director of plans, 505 CCW Det. 1. Air Mobility Liaison Officers simulated the movement of supplies and personnel in support of the training unit.

Mr. Clark emphasized the need to provide the most realistic training available for troops preparing to deploy. It's an opportunity to apply everything they've been taught and to analyze their readiness before going forward into combat.

"The idea is to train like we fight working with realistic products, systems and processes," said Mr. Clark, but he acknowledged the limitations of operating in a sterile training environment. "Things in theater don't always run the way they are taught."