Jumping into new grounds

By Sgt. Kayla Benson | 364th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary) | April 4, 2018

FORT KNOX, Ky. — The combat boots of approximately 15 U.S. Army Reserve Soldiers with the 364th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary) sunk into snow and thick mud as the small team hustled to build a secondary tactical operations center comprised of two expanding vans and supported by one generator, two satellite terminals and three HUMVEEs during Combined Situational Training Exercise - Bridge in Fort Knox, Kentucky., March 21, 2018.

Jump TOC Coyote, the first of its kind for the 364th, demonstrated the Soldiers’ ability to react in a new combat environment. Their goal was to establish and maintain communications with the main TOC, which was one mile away.

“We’re training to go to an environment that is unfamiliar,” explained Capt. Kevin Prevost, a training support officer with the 364th ESC. “We’re breaking new ground.”

“This is an idea that kind of sprung out from this exercise. (Brig. Gen. Gregory) Mosser and his staff want us to kind of see what we can do,” he said. “We are pressing forward, leaning forward in the saddle as they say, to at least to attempt to set the equipment up the way it would need to be set up.”

Despite the cold Kentucky winter weather and working into the night, the Soldiers successfully stood up and concealed the mobile operations center along the tree line and established 360 degree security. Communication with the main TOC was made by phone, email and radio using a very small aperture terminal satellite and antenna.

“Signal (and) comms could be considered the blood of the JTOC. Without them, there’s really not much point to the whole thing,” said Sgt. Cory J. Seamons, a sustainment automation support management specialist with the 96th Sustainment Brigade under the 364th ESC. “Communication to the rear, data input [and] output with other units, stockages, ordering and movements all need connectivity to track and move.”

The jump TOC tested the unit’s capability to not just support operations remotely, but completely resume operations if the main TOC was compromised by enemy fire or chemical attack. Sustainment operations are a critical piece on the battlefield, as it includes moving and tracking troops, as well as supplying ammunition, fuel, equipment and life-essentials such as food and water.

Being the first project of its kind for the unit, the Soldiers had to critically assess the situation and determine the best use of the limited amount of equipment and supplies, noting their obstacles, duration of tasks, and successes.

“We were able to expand our current capabilities for the unit and actually prove a concept for future operations,” said Sgt. Jordan Smith, satellite communications specialist with the 96th SB.

After two days in their first location, a team of 364th Soldiers packed up and moved to a new location, this time 15 miles from the 364th main TOC. After a successful relocation, the mobile operations center was renamed Jump TOC Throat Punch.

Even though the jump TOC staff rotated, the teamwork and morale stayed high throughout the process.

“Different people at different times have worked on this particular part of the project, so we’ve had input from all staff sections, and all different ranks, and people have chipped in to do their part,” said Prevost. He added he felt the unit performed excellently.

The jump TOC attracted the attention of multiple distinguished visitors, including Lt. Gen. Charles D. Luckey, Chief of the Army Reserve and commanding general for U.S. Army Reserve Command.

“There was a time when we conducted operations in a very dynamic fashion like this,” said Luckey during his visit to the jump TOC. “The way you all are thinking about doing this, you’re on the right track.”

“Much like a lot of what we do, we adapt, improvise and overcome,” said Prevost.

Through projects such as Jump TOC Coyote and Throat Punch, the Soldiers with the 364th ESC demonstrate their readiness, capability and lethality regardless of the mission or its conditions.