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NEWS | Jan. 31, 2023

METC hosts large-scale tabletop exercise for notional mobilization

By Lisa Braun Medical Education and Training Campus Public Affairs

The Medical Education and Training Campus at Joint Base San Antonio-Fort Sam Houston conducted a large-scale, mobilization tabletop exercise, or MOBTTX, Jan. 17 to prepare for a potential surge in student throughput for three of its largest training programs.

A tabletop exercise is a discussion-based session where team members meet in an informal, classroom setting to discuss their roles and responses to a simulated emergency situation.

The scenario in the MOBTTX was a wartime troop mobilization which would lead to a 50 percent increase in student enrollment for the Navy’s Hospital Corpsman Basic (HCB) program, Air Force’s Aerospace Medical Service Apprentice (AMSA) program, and Army’s Combat Medic Specialist Training Program (CMSTP), which are all taught at METC.

The scenario necessitated coordination among representatives from METC’s three service training partners: Navy Medicine Training Support Center, Air Force's 59th Training Group, and Army's 32nd Medical Brigade, along with Joint Base San Antonio, Army Reserve and National Guard, the Uniformed Services University’s College of Allied Health Sciences, Navy Medical Forces Support Command, Army Medical Center of Excellence, and other Department of Defense organizations that provide services and support to the METC training mission.

“A major mobilization is probably the most likely scenario that we could have over the course of the next three to five years, or less than that,” said Air Force Col. David Walmsley, METC commandant. “For this exercise, we’re trying to figure out what everybody brings to the table, and how we make sure that we can provide education, get the Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Coast Guardsmen trained up, and then get them down range to support the nation.”

The ultimate goal of the exercise is to develop and add best practices to METC’s mobilization plan in order to be prepared should a real-world mobilization occur. Arriving at best practices, however, would depend on receiving feedback from all its stakeholders, including asking questions that may require further investigation.   

Subject matter experts from METC and its mission partners formed into different groups consisting of academic support, academic delivery, and support services for functions such as logistics, operations, facilities, and information technology.

The groups conducted break-out sessions in which they considered facts and assumptions, potential risks and issues, unknown variables, concerns, and mitigation strategies for supporting a major increase in trainee accessions.

Among the considerations discussed were support services such as feeding and housing thousands of additional students, internet bandwidth to sustain a significant increase to online access, more classroom and laboratory spaces, and training equipment maintenance and purchases.

According to Marc Campbell, METC Chief of Operations, one of the takeaways from the TTX is how METC will improve existing meetings and partnerships.  

“One of the things that we’re going to do a better job of now that we had the mobilization TTX is it’s going to help us to structure our standing meetings as well as our partnerships with JBSA and the services, National Guard and Reserve, as well as the Defense Health Agency,” Campbell said. 

Over the course of the next few months, lessons learned and taskers will be generated and reviewed by the appropriate Senior Executive Council subcommittees made up of training and mission partners. Working groups will be formed to address some of the challenges identified.

Walmsley said the event ran smoothly and praised the great collaboration between METC and all of its mission partners.

“We took away a lot of valuable lessons learned from the tabletop exercise,” he said. “Clearly the key to all this is communication and everybody talking and working together to solve the problems. If a surge ever does happen, we’ll be ready to address it.”