A new chapter in Army logistics was opened last week during an in-depth logistics training exercise held at the Joint Distribution Lab facility on Fort Lee.

Nearly 40 subject matter experts, or observer/trainers, from across all endeavors of the Army, were called upon to help shape the thought processes of the 316th Expeditionary Sustainment Command.

The 316th is a U.S. Army Reserve unit that will provide expeditionary sustainment capability throughout Iraq.

Representing a wide cross-section of America – 40 states to be exact – the 316th was formed September 2006 in Coraopolis, Pa.

This was the first time their battle staff had participated in an exercise as a team.

The observer/trainers acted as coaches and mentors to the unit’s various staff positions during the exercise. They ranged across the general’s staff to the chaplain, support operations, mortuary affairs, staff judge advocate, inspector general and even public affairs.

“We look for how they function as a team,” said Col. Donna Shaw, senior observer/trainer.

“The role of the OTs is to observe, coach and provide feedback.”

In the end, the exercise was designed to move the staff sections into their battle rhythm prior to their deployment.

Various scenarios and fragmentary orders were inserted throughout the week by the White Cell – the exercise’s operation cell, headquartered at Fort Eustis. In addition, OT members provided scenario injects to energize their respective staff sections.

The 316th staff had to sort through the information, disseminate the information to the appropriate sections and act on the information. The scenarios ranged from the routine to those that had major mission accomplishment impacts and outcomes.

“The OTs have been invaluable to the development of the unit. They bring a tremendous amount of experience with them,” said Col. Karen Jennings, 316th deputy commanding officer. “They have been able to provide guidance and technical advice to our unit.”

Jennings added that from the unit’s perspective she observed a “tremendous amount of change in just a few short days. It’s been unbelievable.”