Fort McCoy News Feb. 26, 2016

Program trains Soldiers for battlefield decisions

STORY & PHOTO BY SCOTT T. STURKOL
Public Affairs Staff

Soldiers preparing for major exercises at Fort McCoy participated in the first of several sessions of training for operating the Army's Command Post of the Future (CPOF) Program Feb. 12-15 in building 222.

The training is led by contracted instructors with Booz Allen Hamilton Inc., of Arlington Heights, Ill., who work with the 75th Training Command Great Lakes Division at Fort Sheridan, Ill. It focuses on using the latest version of CPOF, which is a command-and-control software system designed to shorten the commander's decision cycle to stay ahead of the adversary's ability to react on the battlefield. CPOF is part of Army Mission Command Systems that affect communications and planning for operations.

CPOF also allows commanders to maintain oversight of the battlefield, coordinate with other people about live data being received from the battlefield, and communicate their decisions based on actions taking place, said Senior Consultant and Instructor Robert Nolan.

"Information is very fluid when it comes in from the (battlefield)," Nolan said. The process begins when an operator at one of the CPOF machines generates an event for the system, such as troops encountering an improvised explosive device or sniper fire, and posts that event to the common operating picture.

Photo: Soldiers participate in training for the Command Post of the Future Program Feb. 14 in building 222 at Fort McCoy. The training was the first of several sessions to prepare participants of major exercises at Fort McCoy later this year.
Soldiers participate in training for the Command Post of the Future Program Feb. 14 in building 222 at Fort McCoy. The training was the first of several sessions to prepare participants of major exercises at Fort McCoy later this year.

"Everyone in the command post can see what's going on and decisions can be made," Nolan said.

The training set up at Fort McCoy makes it easier for unit personnel who need the training before the Warrior Exercise and Combat Support Training Exercise (CSTX) take place at the installation later this year, Nolan said.

"Some of the students who were here were with units that are actually participating in those exercises," Nolan said. "They are getting a bit of a step up to understand how the equipment works and how it is going to help them perform the mission at those exercises."

In the past, Nolan said the training had been condensed to two days as an exercise begins. In the current course offering, the students get an extra day to build their skills.

"This is very good for them," Nolan said. "We have a little more time now, they can spread out, and we can talk a little bit more indepth on how it's going to be."

Master Sgts. Doug Shalley and Kevin King, both instructors with the Staff Sgt. Todd R. Cornell Noncommissioned Officer Academy (NCOA), participated in the training and said it was beneficial to them because they teach a similar class in the Battle Staff NCO Course at the academy.

"At Battle Staff, a portion of our training is on this system," Shalley said. "What this training is going to do is give us a better understanding of the system, so we can more effectively use CPOF to train our students."

Each session of the Battle Staff NCO Course at the academy has approximately 60 students. King said that's a significant number of people who will see benefits from his attendance in the course.

"It will not only enhance our training for our students, it will also carry on to others," King said. "Since we teach senior NCOs at Battle Staff, those same senior NCOs can pass on this (knowledge) to their junior NCOs."

Another course student was Cpl. Christopher Barnett, military intelligence analyst with the 926th Engineer Battalion at Birmingham, Ala. He said he appreciated the training.

"This is one of those things that allows me to track significant activities in the battlefield and prepare products and is very much a necessity for my work flow," Barnett said. "It's been fantastic. And since we have the CSTX coming up (for our unit), we wanted to make sure we had this operator's course done before then."

Duane Morin, also a senior consultant and instructor in the course, said the course will do more than support training at other institutions and for exercises. "This is a key component in those exercises, but it's also a system that is actually used in the (deployed) theater for a command post," he said.

The training course will continue through June at Fort McCoy.

For more information about the course, contact Scott Van Zee at 847-222-6506 or Ron Holden at 847-222-6543. For more information about Fort McCoy training capabilities, call the Directorate of Plans, Training, Mobilization and Security Training Division at 608-388-5038.