Soldiers with Task Force Spartan recently completed a validation exercise (VALEX) in Kuwait to test the ability of their units to rapidly respond to a no-notice call or alert. Task Force Spartan Soldiers with U.S. Army National Guard and U.S. Army Reserve units from New York, California, and Puerto Rico participated in the exercise.
“The VALEX confirms for the higher echelon command that we are confident and capable to perform the mission that we are assigned,” said Capt. Robert Parry, operations officer with 1st Battalion, 160th Infantry Regiment, 79th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, California Army National Guard.
During the VALEX, Task Force Spartan's capacity to swiftly deploy its resources and troops in support of Crisis Response Task Force missions was evaluated. For this VALEX, both the CRTF aviation and CRTF infantry were tested on their ability to rapidly deploy when tasked. The Soldiers’ ability to adapt and stay flexible was praised by Parry.
“Everyone involved executed rapidly and deployed really well,” said Parry. “This exercise gave us a clearer idea of how the procedure should be carried out, and it enabled us to strengthen any weak points.”
In order to obtain validation, the participating task forces were measured on their ability to perform equipment load-out, aircraft deployment, container transportation and personnel movement. The initial alert went out early in the morning, spurring both the aviation and infantry units to mobilize their forces in response.
For aviation, responding meant flying AH-64 Apache and UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters to the flight line to fold blades for loading onto a U.S. Air Force Central C-17 Globemaster. The process of folding blades and loading a helicopter onto a plane is a precise process that requires a team of Soldiers and Airmen.
While aviation was moving helicopters, the infantry was mustering troops, issuing ammo and preparing to head out. Leaders with units including 1st Theater Sustainment Command, 143rd Expeditionary Sustainment Command, 369th Sustainment Brigade and Area Support Group-Kuwait supported the mission. Some Soldiers with the 1-160th moved to the flight line. Others moved directly to the field.
Soldiers boarded Black Hawks, crewed by the aviation unit, and air assaulted into the training area to support other elements of the 1-160th that were providing area security. The infantry secured the area while the aviation returned back to flight line. After performing their mission essential tasks to accomplish the scenario, the infantry called in for support from aviation. Task Force Roughrider landed Uh-60s at the training site to load the Soldiers and scenario role players. Once the Soldiers were returned to the flight line, the CRTF training mission for both task force was completed.
“What I hope to get out of this training is practicing the steps of the mission efficiently, proficiently and to standard,” said Sgt. 1st Class David Reed, a platoon sergeant in the 4th Attack Reconnaissance Battalion, 4th Aviation Regiment, 4th Combat Aviation Brigade. “That way, we can train other Soldiers to perform these tasks correctly in the future.”