Cold Cold COMEX Yields White Hot Readiness

310th Expeditionary Sustainment Command
Story by SSG Luis Delgadillo

Cold Cold COMEX Yields White Hot Readiness

Despite record breaking cold temperatures in Virginia and throughout the country, Army Reserve Soldiers continue to lean into their training with renewed vigor.

Despite record breaking cold temperatures in Virginia and throughout the country, Army Reserve Soldiers continue to lean into their training with renewed vigor. In three days, January 5-7th, units of the 55th Sustainment Brigade, Fort Belvoir, Va., transported tactical equipment 75 miles, set up communications equipment, and successfully completed its communications exercise (COMEX).

While sustainment brigades are known for their ability to sustain the force, without training to test vital communications networks and radio equipment, via a COMEX, the job of securing the victory would be harder to accomplish.

Cold Cold COMEX Yields White Hot Readiness

As the Army’s largest and most geographically dispersed sustainment brigade, the 55th SB often relies on Soldiers from its down trace elements to keep communications flowing. For the January battle assembly, brigade Soldiers, Soldiers of the 55th Special Troops Battalion’s Headquarters and Headquarter Company, and Soldiers of the 410th Brigade Signal Company fulfilled that role.

“The 410th and HHC/55th SB overcame severe weather conditions and terrain constraints to establish a battalion command post and voice/digital communications with the HQ (headquarters),” said Lt. Col. Christian Hall, commander of the 55th STB.

Cold Cold COMEX Yields White Hot Readiness

The Soldiers moved their trucks and equipment from Fort Belvoir to two different training sites at Fort A.P. Hill, Va., in order to set up a command post. With elements spread out among three training sites, the Reserve Center back at Fort Belvoir and two locations at Fort A.P. Hill the brigade’s soldiers learned valuable lessons about their equipment, lessons that they will be able to carry forward.

While the establishment of command posts and networks are routine; the transport, setup, testing and recovery of all equipment and personnel in one weekend is only typical in the Army Reserve.

“COMEX was the first of three Field Training Exercises (FTX) to prepare the 55th SB for Warfighter 18.5 and meet Ready Force X (RFX) aimpoints,“ said Hall.

Through Ready Force X, the Army Reserve places a focus on individual readiness, the warrior ethos and for specifically identified units, an emphasis on building, sustaining, mobilizing and deploying in short time windows.

With the next training event always on the horizon 55th SB Soldiers are beginning to appreciate what it means to stand at the ready.

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Wounded Warrior Deer Hunt

Soldiers from the Fort Belvoir Wounded Warrior stand with members of the A.P. Hill garrison after a successful deer hunt on the installation's expansive training grounds, Dec. 7 -- 10, 2017. (Photo Credit: Michael Meisberger (A.P. Hill))

Soldiers from the Fort Belvoir Wounded Warrior stand with members of the A.P. Hill garrison after a successful deer hunt on the installation’s expansive training grounds, Dec. 7 — 10, 2017. (Photo Credit: Michael Meisberger (A.P. Hill)

Every year, the garrison staff hosts Soldiers from the Fort Belvoir Warrior Transition Unit to visit Fort A.P. Hill for a deer hunt.

Andrew Satterwhite, army biologist and wounded warrior hunt guide lamented, “I have had the privilege of assisting with the hunt for several years. Hunting has become quite the tradition on Fort A.P. Hill over the years and the wounded warrior hunt is part of that rich history.”

“The hunting program is a vital tool for public outreach and natural resource management on Fort A.P. Hill. The Wounded warrior hunt is great opportunity for the warriors to get away from their everyday routines. Spending time out in the field and hanging around the lodge is a great way to escape.” Satterwhite said.

The hunt on the installation’s expansive training grounds was held Dec. 7 – 10 and was a tremendous success with eight wounded warriors harvesting 16 deer. A.P. Hill range operations officer, Lance Didlake, managed the event from day one until the last warrior left post with a cooler full of venison.

SFC (R) Christopher Chavez summed up his experience, “Thank you for a great weekend… It is wonderful to find people who are willing to help support wounded warriors. Also, thank you for welcoming Avery (Service Dog). Without organizations like this and him (Avery), Veterans like me would be lost.”

Fort A.P. Hill is known for being one of the best Regional Training Centers within the Department of Defense, providing affordable, innovative, flexible, and relevant training enablers in order to support Army, Joint and Interagency Readiness. The Garrison Commander usually opens the 76,000 acre installation for a four day wounded warrior deer hunt, yearly, in the month of December.

NCO in charge, SSG Stephen Wilfong wrote in his thank you letter to Fort A.P. Hill’s Command Sgt. Maj. Robert L. Parker,

“I wanted to express my gratitude for an amazing experience this past weekend. All the Soldiers had a great time and benefited from the event.

Unbeknown to many, one of the soldiers was having a very difficult time emotionally prior to the event, very depressed and feeling isolated. That Soldier opened up about his feelings one evening and went on to express how the trip inspired and rejuvenated him; he is all smiles now.

Another Soldier was concerned with a surgery he would be having on Monday, well needless to say he all but forgot about the pending surgery and enjoyed every moment he had while at Fort AP Hill.

I am certain there are many stories from over the years but these are only two that I had the honor of witnessing. I was overwhelmed by the staff and volunteers that made the stay so special. Everyone was professional, compassionate, humble and generous.”

A. P. Hill Garrison Commander, Lt. Col. Andrew Q. Jordan, said he appreciated the behind-the-scene efforts of the Family, Morale, Welfare and Recreation directorate who provided the support team members and use of the garrison’s new Hilltop cabins, cookers, and meals for the hunters.

F&MWR Marketing Manager Anna Burke and event coordinator thanked the event sponsors, “We had a phenomenal event over the weekend. More than half of our Wounded Warriors had never hunted before, and they all left the event with a successful hunt that produced full hearts and coolers! They were all thrilled with the experience!”

Jordan also thanked the involved garrison staff email for their diligent work, “The hunt was a great success and provided a much needed opportunity for these Wounded Warriors to escape to the woods and have a great time. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for your commitment to this program and to our Wounded Warriors.”

By Michael Meisberger (A.P. Hill)December 26, 2017

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EOD “Defenders” take over the Hill

EOD "Defenders" take over the Hill

EOD “Defenders” take over the Hill

By Mr. Clem Gaines (20thCBRNE) November 13, 2017

Washington, D.C. – Two explosive ordnance disposal Soldiers from the 52nd Explosives Ordnance Group, Fort Campbell, Ky., were honored Nov. 7 at the annual EOD Day on the Hill in Washington, D.C.

Sgt. First Class Joshua Tygret and Sgt. Austin Murphy endured the grueling EOD competition event at Fort A.P. Hill, Va. in August and displayed operational excellence to beat out teams from the Air Force, Navy and National Guard, as well as several civilian organizations.

Shaking the hands of congressmen and getting their photos taken is not part of the usual Army day for Tygret and Murphy. “It was an honor to be able to attend an event at this level,” said Tygret, “to see the career field, across all services, come together for the common goal of helping shed light on the EOD community. It was truly inspiring.”

Reflecting on the rigors of the EOD competition, Murphy said “It was an honor to attend such an event. I hope that others can look upon this, and the opportunities presented, and encourage them to compete in the future.”

The second floor foyer at the Rayburn House Office Building was filled with Soldiers and congressional representatives at the event sponsored by the Congressional EOD Caucus and the National Defense Industrial Association. The entire foyer featured informational displays and specialized equipment with EOD specialists from each service explaining their unique missions. Soldiers from the 28th EOD Company, Fort Bragg, N.C.; the 21st EOD Co., Kirtland Air Force Base, N.M.; and the 55th EOD Co., Fort Belvoir, Va., manned their display areas and answered questions about how they use their equipment to accomplish their missions.

Recognizing their success were Reps. Rick Crawford (R-Ark.), Brian Mast (R-Fla.), and Susan Davis (D-Calif.). Each representative had a personal relationship to the military: Crawford served in the Army as an EOD technician, Mast is a retired EOD technician who suffered catastrophic injuries while attempting to defeat an improvised explosive device, and Davis is an Air Force spouse whose husband served in Vietnam and her father served in World War II.

“You all are the ones that are called when our warriors who will deal with snipers and being shot at want to back up and go the other way [because of explosive ordnance],” stated Mast during his remarks to the EOD Soldiers gathered at the event. “You are the defenders of those who defend this country.”

The Congressional EOD Caucus was formed in 2011 by Reps. Crawford and Davis with the mission to educate other congressmen about EOD’s role in keeping our troops safe abroad, but also in supporting law enforcement in the homeland. The caucus, with approximately 20 congressional representatives, added Mast and Tim Walz (D-Minn.) in 2017 as co-chairs.

Multiple senior Defense Department leaders added their congratulations to Tygret and Murphy. This included Army Lt. Gen. Joseph Anderson, deputy chief of staff for the Department of Army G3/5/7, Dr. Vayl Oxford, director, Defense Threat Reduction Agency, Gen. Joseph Lengyel, chief, National Guard Bureau, and Brig. Gen. James Bonner, commander, 20th Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear, Explosives Command.

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Expert Infantryman Badge training increases Soldiers, unit readiness

Expert Infantryman Badge training increases Soldiers, unit readiness

Expert Infantryman Badge training increases Soldiers, unit readiness

By Sgt. Nicholas Holmes November 7, 2017

More than 200 Soldiers from around the country arrived at Fort A.P. Hill, Virginia, Oct. 20 to train and compete for the coveted Expert Infantryman Badge (EIB) at an event hosted by the 3d U.S. Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard). For more the 70 years, the EIB has served as a means to recognize Soldiers who have mastered the professionalism and proficiency of infantryman skills.

“I feel that every infantryman should take advantage of the opportunity to earn the Expert Infantryman Badge,” said Sgt. Maj. Paul Riedel, operations sergeant major with The Old Guard (TOG). “This is the chance to prove to yourself and the world that you are an expert in your field.”

In order to earn the EIB, each candidate is evaluated on the Army Physical Fitness Test (APFT), day and night land navigation, and 30 tasks comprising three lanes – weapons lane, medical lane and patrol lane.

In addition, participants must complete a 12-mile foot march wearing a 35-pound ruck sack and complete the Objective Bull.

Objective Bull consists of a series of medical tasks that must be completed to standard.

“These are tasks that every infantryman knows how to do,” said Staff Sgt. Mark Mehaffie, noncommissioned officer in charge of the EIB event with TOG. “But, to be able to do it with precision and 100 percent accuracy the first time, every time, is what this badge of honor represents. It is important to recognize these Soldiers’ excellence.”

Prior to being evaluated, candidates participated in an extensive 10-day training exercise, led by cadre. Each cadre have earned the EIB and were further evaluated by officials from the U.S. Army Maneuver Center of Excellence (USAMCE), who sanctioned the EIB event, said Riedel.

During the training, all eligible infantrymen were provided the opportunity to conduct multiple iterations on the EIB lane tasks and work with cadre, as well as peers, to prepare for evaluation.

“The goal is to help prepare the candidates to succeed,” said Mehaffie. “No one will be given a free ride, but until the first day of testing every cadre out here with a blue badge already on their chest will dedicate every minute of their time to ensuring the candidates are prepared to compete.”

The extra training was valued by some of the Soldiers.

“I think this EIB was ran very professionally,” said Staff Sgt. Garrett Golden, a Sentinel at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. “There was more training toward each task compared to other units’ EIBs and I think that helped a lot.”

Soldiers began the rigorous five-day EIB evaluation with an APFT Oct. 30.

“The APFT is evaluated on a higher standard here,” said Mehaffie. “The EIB APFT requires Soldiers to score 80 percent or higher in each event.”

Approximately 41 percent of participants are eliminated after this event, according to USAMCE.

The second event of the day was land navigation, which was evaluated in two iterations, day and night. The event demonstrated the Soldiers’ ability to navigate to a series of points using a map and compass. Soldiers were given only one opportunity to successfully complete each iteration.

“The land [navigation] course is going to be a challenging event due to the conditions that are out there on the course,” said Mehaffie. “It’s really wet out there on the course and the nights have had almost zero visibility, it is going to be difficult.”

Participants were required to correctly locate and record at least three out of four identified points while carrying their weapon and wearing their individual combat equipment.

“The key to being successful is hands down attention to detail,” said Mehaffie. “For instance with land [navigation], generally your no-goes aren’t going to come from a Soldier not being able to find a point. It’s going to come from their inability to plot a point accurately.”

During the following three days of evaluation Soldiers were cycled through weapons, medical and patrol lanes.

If a candidate receives a no-go in an event, they have one hour to retrain on the task and will be retested. After receiving two no-goes in one event candidates are eliminated from EIB evaluation entirely. Candidates will also be eliminated after receiving three no-goes.

“A lot of the tasks on these lanes have to be performed in sequence,” said Mehaffie. “Soldiers have to be able to compartmentalize all of their thoughts and focus on what is required for each individual task. That is the single most important part of EIB.”

The culminating events, a 12-mile foot march and Objective Bull, stretched participants to their limits, both mentally and physically. Donned in their individual combat equipment and a 35-pound ruck sack, participants were required to complete the foot march in three hours or less.

Immediately following the 12-mile foot march, participants were given an additional 20 minutes to complete the Objective Bull. Each of the final events were not re-testable.

“The 12-mile ruck march and the Objective Bull was definitely a challenge,” said Antonio Garcia, a Sentinel at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. “Going through the terrain made it more difficult than I was expecting, but I just had to stay focused and push through it.”

In the end, a total of 52 Soldiers successfully completed the demanding and exhausting evaluation to earn the EIB.

“This badge is earned not given,” said Command Sgt. Maj. Paul E. Biggs, command sergeant major, Joint Force Headquarters-National Capital Region and the U.S. Army Military District of Washington. “There were 236 of you that started and 52 of you remain. That is a 22 percent success rate, meaning this organization has exceeded the Army’s average of 18 percent.”

Successfully completing the evaluation was a pivotal and rewarding moment for Garcia and Golden.

“This means everything to me,” said Garcia, after completing the final event. “This is my profession, knowing that I am an expert at what I do makes me very proud. Everything I have earned in my military career means a lot, but especially my EIB.”

“I am a staff sergeant,” said Golden. “It is absolutely necessary for me to earn my EIB for my [military occupational specialty]. It’s a very proud day for me and my battle buddies out here today.”

In closing, Biggs charged the 52 Soldiers with the responsibility of assisting their peers to earn the EIB in the future.

“My advice to any infantryman wanting to earn the EIB is, don’t hesitate,” said Garcia. “There is no better time than right now. Study and take the time to stay dedicated and focused on the goal. You can do it.”

The U.S. Army Military District of Washington serves as the Army Forces Component and core staff element of Joint Force Headquarters National Capital Region, which conducts operations that deter, prevent and respond to threats aimed at the National Capital Region. The U.S. Army Military District of Washington also conducts world-class ceremonial musical and special events in support of our nation’s leadership.

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Spc. Andrew D. Quann, point man in 2nd place entry photo

Spc. Andrew D. Quann (point man in 2nd place entry photo

Spc. Andrew D. Quann (point man in 2nd place entry photo.


Spc. Andrew D. Quann (point man in 2nd place entry photo in the “My American Military Hero” photo contest) is currently assigned to the #fortaphill 310th Multi Role Bridge Company. Spc. Quann serves as a 12C, Bridge Crewmember on the 310th’s Bridging Build Team and was promoted to Specialist in May. A big thank you goes out to Mrs. Katherine Quann (mom) for submitting the photo. Congratulations to Spc. Andrew D. Quann for his entry and win in the contest. Hooah! #USArmy #GoArmy


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2017 Department of the Army Best Warrior Competition Media Availability

What:     Media Availability for the 2017 Best Warrior Competition

Where:   Fort A.P. Hill, Va.

When:    Oct. 5, 2017, 1:30 p.m. until 3:30 p.m.

Background: The premier DA-level competition, 22 of the Army’s finest Soldiers, representing 11 commands from across the Army, compete in the 2017 Best Warrior Competition at Fort A.P. Hill, Va., and the Pentagon from Sept. 30 to Oct. 6, 2017.

Sgt. Maj. of the Army Daniel Dailey oversees the 16th annual competition, which names the DA Soldier and Noncommissioned Officer of the Year.

Warriors selected to compete for these prestigious titles – 11 NCOs and 11 Soldiers – have already mastered a series of benchmarks throughout the year to qualify for the Army-wide competition.

During the six-day competition, these elite competitors will test their Army aptitude by conquering urban warfare simulations, board interviews, physical fitness tests, written exams, and Warrior tasks and battle drills relevant to today’s operating environment.

Winners will be announced at the Sergeant Major of the Army’s Awards Luncheon, Oct. 9, during the AUSA Convention. The event will be broadcast through live streaming at Interviews with the Soldier and NCO of the Year begin immediately after the award ceremony.


Media Coverage:

Additional information on competitors, Army commands and events can be found here:

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Remembering September 11, 2001

Lt. Col. Andrew Q. Jordan hosted a 9/11 Ceremony this morning at 8:30 AM in the Virginia Congressional Medal of Honor, honor garden on post. Soldiers, garrison staff and tenant organization personnel came together to remember the events of September 11, 2001.  

Check out the photos from the event.


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