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NEWS | July 25, 2018

Beans to bullets: U.S. Army Reserve develops warfighting supply chain

By Sgt. Hector Rene Membreno-Canales Exercise News Day

U.S. Army Reserve Soldiers of the 4th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary) are conducting a Command Post Exercise - Functional, July 14-20 at Joint Base San Antonio, Fort Sam Houston’s Mission Training Complex.

“You can’t win a war without beans, bullets or fuel,” said U.S. Army Reserve Command Sgt. Maj. Efrem Waller, a Houston police officer and the operations noncommissioned officer in charge for the 4th ESC. “It’s critical we maintain our levels of supply to avoid a catastrophic event.”

During the CPX-F, the 4th ESC simulated battle tracking of supplies such as munitions, fuel, and medical equipment, and the transportation required to support units in a deployed environment. 

“Everyone in this organization is mission essential,” stated Waller. “We do not rely on Soldiers based on their rank. In fact, we have junior enlisted Soldiers brief the commanding general to ensure they too understand the mission as well as our officers and senior NCOs.” 

Having junior enlisted Soldiers brief up the chain of command is intended to demonstrate that every Soldier, down to the lowest echelon, understands the organization’s tasks and mission.

U.S. Army Reserve Spc. Alex Santillan, a native of San Antonio and supply specialist assigned to the 4th ESC has briefed Brig. Gen. Alex B. Fink, his commanding general, during the CPX-F commander’s update.

“It’s nerve racking,” said Santillan. ”Mistakes tracking food, medical supplies and ammo can lead to loss of lives if you’re not accurate.”

Santillan appreciates the importance of this training and the opportunity to brief the commanding general because it is a chance to build his confidence.

“I have a better understanding of the commander’s thought process when I prepare my brief,” said Santillan. “This gives me the opportunity and exposure to coordinate with other units. I now have a better comprehension of what other sections do.” 

Waller echoed this training concept by explaining that CPX-F helps subordinate units and Soldiers understand the mission command processes for planning, preparation and execution.

“This training does a good job of preparing you for the type of work you’ll do during a deployment,” said Waller. “Once you go overseas, you’ll know who and what to ask. The Soldier is empowered with enough details to equip commanders to make the best decisions for the needs of a mission.” 

The training is intended to not only sharpen the skills of the junior enlisted, but sharpen skills across all ranks.

“Leading up to this, we’ve had after-hours teleconferences for planning concepts and synchronization with our full-time staff and [Army Reserve troops] every Thursday,” said U.S. Army Reserve Capt. Troy Catterton, the 4th ESC collective training officer in charge.

Catterton, who is acting in a role above his current duty position, has been tasked to perform as battle major for the CPX-F. It’s his responsibility to synchronize all efforts pertaining to missions, ensure cross talk between sections, and provide realistic concepts for his Soldiers. 

“The 4th ESC is responsible for providing all classes of sustainment to all warfighters,” said Catterton. “This exercise increases our command and control of all the moving pieces but it also sharpens my ability to forecast future challenges and mitigate them before they come.”

Catterton explains that the CPX-F provides him the opportunity to grow as a logistician.

“I funnel, disseminate and task the various brigades underneath us to ensure it happens in a timely manner and to mitigate our challenges as they arrive,” said Catterton. “When our [Army Reserve Soldiers] finally get [to JBSA Fort Sam Houston] during the application phase, we bring them into the fold and put them in the position to succeed, because, when the specialist can brief the general, it builds confidence in ability and competence across the entire organization.”

A CPX-F is a total force sustainment, home-station, support operations-centric, functionally-focused training exercise. It is designed to provide echelon-above-brigade sustainment organizations, commanders, and staffs with a venue to increase their units' proficiency and prepare them for an external evaluation.

These echelon-above-brigade sustainment organizations include expeditionary sustainment commands, sustainment brigades, expeditionary transportation brigades, and combat sustainment support battalions. Theater sustainment commands also benefit by providing personnel to serve as a higher command when an ESC is conducting a CPX-F.