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NEWS | Aug. 26, 2021

Resolute Castle: 301st FEST-M travels to Romania, provides design expertise

By 1st Lt. Adam Livermore 416th Theater Engineer Command

Soldiers of the 301st Forward Engineer Support Team – Main (FEST-M) provided design expertise for horizontal and vertical construction projects in Cincu, Romania, during Resolute Castle 2021 for two weeks in July.

Resolute Castle is a multinational, joint exercise in Romania and Poland that began in 2015 offering Reserve, National Guard and active component Soldiers to increase training capacity while offering the real-world value of building permanent infrastructure and supporting real-world strategic goals.

In a combat operations environment, the purpose of an Army Reserve FEST-M is to become a contingency for the United States Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), which makes this training essential, according to Maj. Scott Peyton, 301st FEST-M planner for Resolute Castle.

“The opportunity to come over here and work with the host nation, the Romanian people and the Polish, build those relationship and build that partnerships is an amazing opportunity,” said Peyton. “The more you build that relationship, the more opportunities there are. We benefit as much as they benefit.”

Joint National Training Capability (JNTC) in Cincu, Romania, is currently a battalion-level maneuver training site, but through improving the road infrastructure and establishing new Logistics Support Areas (LSAs) and new administrative areas, it increases the capacity of JNTC from a battalion level training center to brigade-level.

“We have the opportunity to conduct live-fire training that simply isn’t possible in other areas, but in order for that training to take place you have to build up the infrastructure and that is what Resolute Castle is doing,” said Peyton. “The overall size of JNTC makes it a little crowded if there was a brigade here, but at least they have the infrastructure where they can do more than a battalion.”

There have been many successes that have resulted from Resolute Castle, according to Maj. Ryan Agustin, 301st FEST-M Lead Designer.

“Resolute Castle provides a lot of opportunities for my team [301st FEST-M] to develop these project packets, learn more about [software], project estimating, researching materials in the local market, and working with the host nation here in Romania,” Agustin said. “The most important part of this exercise is establishing and maintaining relationships.”

The FEST teams were able to produce products that enabled Resolute Castle leadership to order materials for the projects in a timely manner which allowed the constructing units to familiarize and train on details of the construction projects. By the design teams working directly with the construction teams, it allows everyone involved to identify standard requirements and ensure they are meeting code.

“The biggest piece of this is, because we have so many experienced designers, we are able to identify the lead-time required and do the design work and then to procure the materials and train units on the project management piece,” said Peyton. “That allows us to set the timeline a little bit earlier so that we actually have time to accomplish all of that.”

Via past Resolute Castle exercises until now, JNTC is on its way to becoming a brigade-level site, according to leadership. Construction continues to improve the standards and mobility corridors on the base. Plus, other Romanian bases, such as Smardan and Badabag, as well as Polish training sites, like Drawsko Pomorskie Training Area, can benefit from infrastructure build-up. These and other Eastern European locations can work agreements so Resolute Castle can support them as well during future exercises.

“From a U.S. Army Reserve perspective, the opportunity to do this mission is one of the best-recruiting tools we have; you have the opportunity to do an overseas mission to work in your [Military Occupational Specialty], come to Europe and enjoy amazing hospitality with the host nation and then actually work in your MOS,” said Peyton. “Soldiers love it!”

The 301st FEST-M is a brigade-level headquarters based out of Denver, Colorado, comprised of technical engineers, finance, operations and administrative Soldiers; and part of the 416th Theater Engineer Command. The downtrace units include Forward Engineer Support Team – Advanced (FEST- A) and Engineer Facilities Detachments (EFD). These units have design capabilities and Directorate of Public Works (DPW) functions. They can manage construction administration and real property operations.