The Joint Enabling Capabilities Command, a subordinate joint command of U.S. Transportation Command, completed the week-long training event, Exercise Chesapeake, on May 18, 2012. One of many exercises the JECC commissions to validate the readiness and expertise of its personnel, Exercise Chesapeake focused specifically on the command’s joint operational skill sets.
The JECC tasked each of its subordinate commands – the Joint Communications Support Element, the Joint Public Affairs Support Element and the Joint Planning Support Element – to participate and employ their respective capabilities of joint communications, public affairs and operational planning.
Exercise Chesapeake focused on the JECC’s rapid response and support to a homeland defense operation scenario employing the Defense Support of Civil Authorities process. JCSE and JPASE are pre-assigned for DSCA missions, and while JPSE is not, a request for its capabilities is highly likely in a homeland defense mission.
U.S. Army Lt. Col. Robert Bertrand, the JECC J33 Current Operations Chief and the officer in charge of executing Exercise Chesapeake, explained why the JECC decided to use a homeland defense scenario.
“Normally DOD focuses on kinetic, lethal operations, but homeland defense proves more difficult for warfighters to solve problems within legal authorities,” he said. “There is a lot of collaboration with interagency and overall, there may not be a right answer.”
The first few days of the exercise included evaluations on how well personnel meet tactical combat requirements such as pistol and rifle shooting, Self-Aid Buddy Care and Nuclear, Biological and Chemical procedures. JECC members receive training in these areas annually, and Exercise Chesapeake tested their competency of these processes. Without prior notice, participants were evaluated on their knowledge and ability to successfully perform specific tasks without instruction.
U.S. Navy Cmdr. Richard Davis, the deputy mission lead for those participating in Exercise Chesapeake, spoke of the benefits this type of training provided and how it exemplified the past instruction JECC members have received.
“Overall this training opportunity has been an effective way to gauge the current strength and proficiency of the JECC members particularly because it was an impromptu exercise that tested our technical and tactical skills,” he stated.
The second half of Exercise Chesapeake tested the JECC’s ability to provide valuable expertise to the joint force commander. The JECC participants relocated to Fort Lee, Va., the simulated joint task force headquarters, to begin the joint operation planning process.
Each subordinate command applied its specific capabilities to contribute to the overall construct and execution of the mission. JCSE provided the communications backbone for the operation, JPASE was charged with preparing public affairs guidance and preparing the mission lead for a live interview and JPSE developed a mission analysis and course of action to present to the JTF commander.
To make the scenario even more realistic, the JECC included frequent injects throughout the exercise which added supplementary tasks to the original mission. This process added a level of realism to the exercise, making it similar to other real-world missions in which the JECC has played a role.
U.S. Army Lt. Col. Bryan Tierney, the JECC J35 Future Operations Chief and the Exercise Chesapeake’s white cell lead, spoke of the realistic environment the exercise created and how this contributed to a more authentic training atmosphere.
“Exercise Chesapeake was a challenging, realistic planning scenario which tested the JECC’s knowledge of the typical nuances experienced while supporting civil authorities,” Tierney explained. “The JECC members operated in a time-constrained environment to produce a comprehensive plan that a joint force commander could execute in support of a lead federal agency.”
The JECC’s success hinges on its ability to rapidly deploy for missions and to provide valuable capabilities once arriving in theater. Exercise Chesapeake tested both of these objectives into a condensed timeframe. The JECC looks forward to additional internal exercises and will hold collective training, Exercise Midway, in June to further validate its mission requirements.
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