No Distinctions -- The AC/AR formula for Mission Success
August 5, 2013
FORT BELVOIR, Va. (Aug. 7, 2013) Continued reliance on reserve component Soldiers is an essential part of the Army's transformation plan. According to Army Maj. Bryan Shrank, commanding officer of the Army's 4th Space Company at Peterson Air Force Base, Colo., one of the most significant benefits brought by the Army Reserve Soldiers assigned to his company is perspective.
"Their civilian sector knowledge and insight is something we routinely leverage to accomplish the mission," Shrank said. "They have ongoing visibility of the latest equipment, cutting edge technology, and are familiar with current best practices in terms of processes and procedures.
"For example, some of our Army Reserve Soldiers work in the satellite communications industry and their innovative approach often results in increased efficiencies and more effective communications for the warfigher."
As a former Army Reserve helicopter hydraulics mechanic who joined the active component after graduating West Point, Shrank sees little difference in how to lead a "multi-component" unit to success.
"I don't make that distinction in my organization," said Shrank. "We treat all Soldiers the same. They are highly respected by the command and their performance has been top notch."
Shrank's company is tasked with ensuring reliable ground communication for both personnel and weapon systems. The 4th Space Company deploys globally to conduct ground mobile surveillance and assessment of space systems in support of military and civil operations-a mission that relies on tech-savvy teammates capable of staying current in --and applying -- the latest advances in the rapidly-evolving information technology field.
"Essentially, the cutting edge computer technology and intelligence skills of our operators help to maintain and enhance our satellite communications architecture and equipment," said Shrank.
The crews are trained to be interchangeable, working and deploying together as teams. "The AR Soldiers coming in are outstanding-they are dedicated, with high morale and motivated to accomplish the mission," said Shrank. "They also provide me with a great, stable, trained and ready pool of professionals, since my active duty team changes out more frequently than their AR counterparts."
As the officer-in-charge, of the recently deployed 4th Space Company crew Capt. John Vos said the continuity and expertise provided by his Army Reserve crew was an integral part of getting the operation off the ground.
"I'm an active duty guy, but some of my most experienced guys were Army Reserve." said Vos, "They were training me and showing me the ropes. My guys were the forerunners, providing on the job training for the system and developing doctrine."
According to Shrank, the work environment is so positive that many of his active duty Soldiers transition to the Army Reserve instead of leaving the Army altogether. "We're always looking for good Soldiers to fill the AR ranks," said Shrank. "We routinely have Soldiers who want to stay in the company; and we accommodate these requests by moving them over to the Reserve detachments. If a member of the AR arrives with an MOS we need, great. If not, we'll train them to meet our mission requirements."
The only difference Vos sees between the two is what he calls the bureaucracy of getting the RC guys online.
"When we go downrange with these kids, I don't even think about who is what," said Vos. "Stereotypes of the Reserve Soldier go out the window - it never even crosses my mind. I would say bottom line is if there were some way to get them longer and faster, we have pretty much two identical Soldiers."
"I have been very fortunate - I have loved working with these guys," said Shrank. "The enthusiasm I've seen in my AR Soldiers has had a greater influence on me than anyone could have told me."
Shrank, who has a master's degree in astronautical engineering, recently received orders assigning him to the DOD Executive Agent for Space Staff. "As I move on to my next assignment, one of the biggest things I will take away from here is that it doesn't matter where you come from from or how you got here. The basics of good leadership are all the same -- Soldiers just want to be treated like Soldiers."
[Side bar] Today's Army Reserve is a key complimentary operational force of nearly 200,000 Soldiers supporting the United States military in training and in combat via 148 diverse military occupational specialties. The Army's Federal Reserve force has emerged as a proven component and command, essential to the Army's ability to meet the national defense strategy. Army Reserve citizen-Soldiers continually demonstrate their ability to augment military skills with civilian-acquired experience and advanced education and degrees, providing the Army with a distinct edge in operations at home and in combat.
Contributing: Jamal Beck, Army Reserve Communications