NORFOLK, Va. (NNS) -- Personnel from several U.S. government agencies and the Department of Defense, including 33 members from the Joint Enabling Capabilities Command (JECC), collectively participated in U.S. Southern Command's Exercise Integrated Advance 13 from Feb. 9 - 15.
This biannual training event ensured readiness of the major participating organizations and enhanced the comprehensive understanding of the roles and responsibilities of all parties involved. The JECC's real-world experience and mission-critical expertise was a perfect fit for Integrated Advance (IA) 13's exercise scenario, a simulated humanitarian crisis operation.
The JECC deployed a mission-tailored team from its three subordinate joint commands - the Joint Communications Support Element (JCSE), the Joint Public Affairs Support Element and the Joint Planning Support Element (JPSE) - to strengthen relations and assist U.S. Army South, who was designated to stand up a joint task force headquarters (JTF HQ) at Naval Station Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, based on the exercise scenario.
Capt. Frank Hruska, the JPSE Deputy Commander, discussed the value of participating in IA-13 and how the multifaceted support enhanced training for all JECC members.
"Every staff has a specific way of executing day-to-day operations," said Hruska. "Fostering relations and gaining mission-critical insight by working with USSOUTHCOM, USARSOUTH and other federal agencies in a training environment expedites efforts for future crises or contingency operations the JECC may be called to support."
In the earliest stages of the exercise, seven JCSE communicators worked diligently with their USARSOUTH counterparts to establish uninterrupted connectivity for the newly formed JTF HQ. JCSE's ability to adjust to real-time requirements helped increase bandwidth and operability of USARSOUTH's Deployable Joint Command and Control system, which provided communications services for the duration of the exercise.
Additionally, JCSE provided a niche capability by employing two Rapid Response Kits (RRK), a communications equipment set which enables timely, secure and reliable communications service for up to 20 users. The RRKs provided voice and data communications to both IA-13 white cell personnel and Department of Homeland Security medical and public affairs experts located at a separate site near the JTF HQ in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
JCSE member, U.S. Army Capt. Candace Wilson, discussed her team's ability to bring communication solutions while deployed.
"The highly-trained JCSE communicator's expertise utilizing Defense Information Systems Network-Tactical Edge infrastructure enabled operators to make on-the spot enhancements, which provided more robust and capable communication services while augmenting USARSOUTH's J6 to support over 500 end users," said Wilson. "IA-13 is an example of how USSOUTHCOM can leverage JCSE subject matter experts to provide tailored communications capabilities."
JPASE regularly provides joint public affairs training to military organizations worldwide during exercises and participated in IA-13 on various levels. To bring an added depth to the realistic training scenario, two JPASE personnel supported the white cell onsite in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba as media role players. Four additional members were integrated in the white cell at the Joint and Coalition Warfighting complex, in Suffolk, Va., and provided simulated media inquiries by phone, email and video broadcast.
Additionally, JPASE provided two blue force players with public affairs expertise at the CCMD-level and two public affairs (PA) experts also deployed to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba to bring essential PA capabilities to the JTF HQ, including overseeing media operations. The two officers served as the PA advanced liaison team for USARSOUTH/PA. By arriving on-site ahead of USARSOUTH, the JPASE personnel were able to begin internal staff integration in support of the commander's communication strategy and initiate dialogue with other federal agencies upon arrival.
JPASE member, U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Bottemiller, served as the Chief of Media Operations within the JTF and shared his thoughts on the exercise scenario.
"IA-13, due to its interagency connection with the Department of Homeland Security as the lead in the scenario, definitely raised the bar in integrated joint operations and provided realistic challenges for an evolving joint task force," said Bottemiller. "Not only did our members fall into the JTF organization, but then worked side-by-side with our JPSE and JCSE team members, and with other governmental agency public affairs representatives. This provided great support for the primary training audience (USARSOUTH), but also for members of JECC in a very complex environment."
Lastly, 12 JPSE members served in significant staff positions within the JTF HQ and four additional planners supported USSOUTHCOM headquarters during IA-13. At each tier, JPSE personnel expertly synchronized joint operational planning efforts, fostered lasting relationships and sharpened the skill sets they bring to joint force commanders.
"This exercise allowed us to fully understand the intricacies of operations in the USSOUTHCOM AOR," said JPSE member, U.S. Army Lt. Col. Derek Christensen, who served as the JTF Deputy J3 Operations. "Anytime we are fully integrated in another staff, it fosters relations, holds our JPSE training to a higher standard and builds on the collective knowledge base we bring to future mission requirements."
Overall, IA-13 provided a realistic training scenario for the diverse participants and increased understanding of the joint expertise the JECC can provide to expedite the standup of a JTF HQ. The JECC's mission-critical support to IA-13 demonstrated the command's readiness to respond to a humanitarian crisis operation in the USSOUTHCOM AOR and effectively broadened the scope of operations JECC members are fully prepared to support.
For more news from Joint Enabling Capabilities Command, visit www.navy.mil/local/jecc/.