Twenty Wisconsin Army National Guard Soldiers from the 64th Troop Command joined nearly 13,000 other U.S. service members and another 10,000 South Korean service members during last month’s annual Key Resolve command and control exercise.
Key Resolve 17, conducted in accordance with the 1953 South Korean-U.S. Mutual Defense Treaty, lets U.S. and South Korean service members work together in much the same way they would in the event of a military engagement with North Korea.
The 64th Troop Command Soldiers augmented the brigade staff for Material Support Command-Korea (MSC-K), filling many primary staff roles and reporting to the 19th Expeditionary Support Command (ESC). Five Wisconsin National Guard Soldiers worked as part of the 19th ESC staff during the exercise.
Maj. Dustin Cebula is a personnel and administrative officer with the 64th Troop Command, but found himself performing tasks beyond his normal duty scope for Key Resolve 17 — tracking non-combatant evacuation operations for the exercise.
“That required the tracking and movement of military dependents, Army civilians, Department of State employees [and others] off the Korean peninsula” for a scenario based on renewed military conflict with North Korea, Cebula said. “This did involve personnel accountability and strength reporting, but from a much different aspect than the standard role and processes that I was accustomed to.”
Capt. Jesse Losinski, a training officer with the 64th Troop Command, served as the day shift battle captain for Key Resolve 17.
“I managed information flow of the battle as it unfolded to paint a common operating picture for the MSC-K commander,” Losinski explained.
Other 64th Troop Command Soldiers tracked the status and progress of notional combat units arriving on the Korean peninsula, and monitoring critical supplies for brigade supply and transportation.
Key Resolve is a “tabletop” exercise — rather than actual maneuvers, troop movements are computer simulations. But that doesn’t mean the training lacked realistic stress.
“I personally took away the experience of remaining [adaptable] and to not get wrapped around the axle on what is supposed to happen in the fog of war, but to do what makes sense based on what is actually occurring,” Losinski said. “I learned that a support unit must anticipate the future in order to prepare in the present to ensure timely support of maneuver forces.”
Lt. Gen. Thomas Bergeson, the Air Component Command for South Korea/U.S. Combined Forces Command and 7th Air Force commander, said Key Resolve was supposed to be challenging.
“We want it to be difficult, and so we are learning lessons as we go along,” Bergeson said. “Some things we’re not doing perfectly, but that’s why you do it — that’s why you practice. You practice to make it very difficult so that if you were ever to have to do this for real, you’re prepared for it.”
“[This] provided a broadening experience for most personnel to function in areas outside of their normal career field as different phases of the exercise required individuals to switch positions and responsibilities,” he explained.
The 64th Troop Command plans to apply lessons learned about knowledge management and command post operations from Key Resolve 17.
Staff Sgt. Benjamin W. Stratton, 7th Air Force Public Affairs, contributed to this report.