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Soldiers join Marines in asymmetrical war game

POTOMAC, Md. (Army News Service, Jan. 31, 2006) – Army engineers, trainers and communicators participated in the Marine Corps’ Expeditionary Warrior exercise last week in Maryland involving counterinsurgency and irregular operations.

The exercise was based on a fictitious earthquake devastating a region, coupled with several insurgency groups that were trying to overthrow the local government.

The Army Corps of Engineers, Training and Doctrine Command, Civil Affairs and Psychological Operations Command were represented in the war game, along with members of all five services, the Office of the Secretary of Defense, U.S. Southern Command, U.S. Joint Forces Command, international partners and interagency organizations. The annual exercise aimed to assess the military’s approach to counterinsurgency, small wars, irregular conflicts and operations such as those currently facing U.S. forces in Iraq and Afghanistan, officials said.

Corps provides humanitarian aid

Scenarios called for the Corps of Engineers to provide humanitarian assistance and disaster relief to earthquake victims and engineering and construction support to the U.S. task force headquarters with a counterinsurgency mission.

Eight U.S. Army Corps of Engineers headquarters personnel and seven members of the 416th Engineering Command, or ENCOM, headquartered in Darien, Ill., participated in the exercise.

“Though only a few Corps members were involved in the exercise, the significance of our participation is what’s important. We know that the Corps of Engineers has to be ready to deploy anywhere to support missions worldwide,” said Brenda Wyler, assistant director for Warfighter Support. Wyler is charged with steering the Readiness XXI initiative. Readiness XXI is the command’s effort to ensure it can execute tasks involving stability, reconstruction, and homeland security.

“We know that the Corps is expected to provide effective engineer and technical support for future joint, combined, interagency and intergovernmental operations during peace and war and whenever needed in domestic and international venues.”

“To do that many Corps of Engineers civilians will deploy to support future missions abroad. Corps civilians will be expected to volunteer for future missions such as those we currently have in Iraq and Afghanistan,” she added.

Testing ENCOM reorganization

Changes in the ENCOM, as well as civilian deployments, are also an important aspect of Readiness XXI, officials said.

“This week-long exercise evaluated how we synchronize theater-level engineer command and control under the 416th ENCOM with a Forward Engineer Support Team in support,” said Lt. Col. Joe Goetz, Corps ENCOM liaison officer. “The exercise was also used to test our ongoing effort to reorganize the 416th into an ENCOM main with two deployable command posts comprised from 65 to 100 Army Reserve Soldiers.”

Last summer more than 20 Soldiers from the 416th ENCOM deployed to the Gulf Region Division in Iraq for one year. The 416th has also deployed to Central America; most recently to Panama in Operation New Horizons.

(Editor's note: Information provided by Lt. Col. Stan Heath with the Corps of Engineers Public Affairs Office.)

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