81st Stryker Brigade Combat Team prepares for the National Training Center

Photo By Sara Morris | Command Sgt. Major Christopher Kepner, Senior Enlisted Adviser to the Chief National Guard Bureau, helps a soldier perform communication equipment checks before the start of a Command Post Exercise at Camp Murray.
January 16, 2020

Testing command posts are a critical component of a Brigade’s success. This includes knowing where staff processes can be improved as well as testing those processes. Getting to test this with Command Sgt. Major Christopher Kepner, Senior Enlisted Advisor to the Chief of the National Guard Bureau looking over your shoulders, makes it even more important.

“Coming out here and seeing the Stryker brigade going through this training and getting ready for a rotation at the national training center, which is the epitome of readiness, has been exciting,” Kepner said.

The 81st Stryker Brigade Combat Team conducted the Command Post Exercise with five of their six battalion staffs participating.

“The purpose of the CPX was to validate systems and command and control processes through distributed mission command,” said Lt. Col. John Wells, the 81st SBCT executive officer. “This exercise allowed the brigade an opportunity to collaborate digitally in managing combat operations in a dynamic digital operating environment.”

Kepner stopped by the exercise during his visit with the Washington National Guard to see the training and speak with the guardsmen.

“Is the National Guard strategic or operational? It’s no longer an either/or statement. We are both and this proves that we can be both,” Kepner said. “Being here and seeing these soldiers doing this training.”

The 81st SBCT was able to successfully execute a satellite simulation feed for the 1-185th Infantry Battalion, who was participating from their armory in San Bernardino, Cali. The operational portion of the simulation was a scenario planned by the 81st SBCT during the Leadership Training Program at Fort Irwin in preparation for the NTC rotation.

“Overall, the weekend met varied successes and identified a multitude of challenges that will overcome as part of our final NTC preparations,” Wells said.

Kepner asked all the traditional guardsmen at the CPX about their civilian occupations and how the guardsmen were able to balance their dual roles. He found that the soldiers ability to provide prior notice for all of their training and good communications with workplaces made for happy employers.

“Really, I see motivated guardsmen who are building readiness to contribute to the national defense strategy as an operational force for the National Guard.”