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NEWS | June 22, 2016

Army Reserve Logistics Capabilities Play Integral Role in a Big Way for European Exercise Anakonda

By Maj. Marvin Baker 364th Expeditionary Sustainment Command

Anakonda 16 has been described by many in the Polish and U.S. military as a multi-national exercise that demonstrates an alliance in Europe between Poland and other NATO countries. Furthermore, it tests the ability of approximately 12,000 U.S. troops spread across 15 sites in Poland and Germany, with an additional 12,000 allied nation troops ability to deploy to an austere environment in order to fend off any adversary. But even this all-encompassing description inadequately captures the complete benefits of Anakonda 16.

The scale of the two-week exercise, which started June 7, provided essential training and experience for the Soldiers in the 364th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary).

“This exercise is the first of it’s kind in 25 years and the size of this exercise challenges an ESC,” said Brig. Gen. Gregory Mosser, 364th ESC Commanding General. “The training value of Anakonda 16 is that we are doing a real-world mission. Here, if we fail to deliver our mission, people go without food and without ammunition,” Mosser said.

In order to set the stage for Anakonda 16, logisticians in the 364th ESC deployed to Poland nearly one month before the start of the exercise. Their mission began at their home station where they prepared their equipment for shipment by sea and air, carefully scheduling its arrival so that Soldiers would be available in Poland to meet the equipment and prepare it for onward movement. After ESC Soldiers ensured their own equipment that included work tents, office equipment and tactical vehicles arrived safely; they quickly set up their operations center near Warsaw.

The ops center was the hub for all sustainment activity throughout Poland. The 364th ESC’s primary job during Anakonda 16 was command and control of all sustainment operations. It’s a critical element of any military operation to know what, when and where, supplies are moving within the area of operations. Maneuver commanders rely on the critical life and combat-sustaining efforts of Army Reserve units like the 364th ESC. In fact, nearly 80% of all sustainment and logistics capabilities are held in the Army Reserve and Army National Guard.

Anakonda 16 was truly a Total Army exercise, especially for sustainment operations. One of the primary benefits included real-world training. When Soldiers are put in realistic situations that force them to think through all the nuances of their job, it can motivate them to remain in the military and increase enthusiasm for their work. Typically, logisticians practice their skills through computer simulations or small-scale exercises at a U.S.-based training center. “We are not just going through the checklist to establish a fuel farm. Our Soldiers are actually setting up a fuel farm,” Mosser said.

During the exercise, the 364th ESC were responsible for more than 35 sustainment units that were responsible for managing supply yards, rail port operations in Zagan and Drawsko Pomorski, seaport operations in Szczecin and ammunition supply points. The units came from the Army National Guard, active Army, and the Army Reserve and include three of the ESC organic subordinate units; the 483rd Quartermaster Company, the 909th Human Resources Company and the 592nd Ordnance Company.

The 592nd Ordnance Co. along with ordnance soldiers from the 3rd Infantry Division were jointly responsible for receiving and maintaining all the ammunition used in the exercise. Soldiers in the 909th worked their personnel management skills as they tracked every U.S. service member entering Poland in support of Anakonda 16. The contingent from 483rd Quartermaster Co. kept Soldiers feed and housed as they ensured there was more than enough food available on the life support areas near Drawsko Pomorskie.

Anakonda 16 is a prime example of the U.S. Army’s Total Force initiative. The exercise used the unique abilities all three Army components aimed at supporting an overarching goal. It also demonstrated the critical role sustainment operations plays in increasing combat unit’s ability to speed across the battlefield without concerns of supply lines keeping up the pace.

“This exercise caused us to do a lot more work than we might do during a simulation, but it also increased our training value and individual Soldiers' readiness more than anything we could have got in the U.S.,” Mosser said.