Army Total Force Policy stressed during working group
July 25, 2014
ROCK ISLAND ARSENAL, Ill. -- Continuing the momentum gained from Army Total Force Policy implementation was the focus of a Training Support Synchronization Working Group held at First Army headquarters here this week.
ATFP calls for the Army's active duty, National Guard and Reserve components to conduct integrated pre-deployment training at the tactical level, and First Army is the Army's premier trainer of the Guard and Reserve, and the coordinating agent responsible for implementation.
"We are looking at the exercise schedule to see how we can get all three components in each exercise," said Rick Fink, First Army assistant chief of staff for training. "A little over a year ago, we started focusing on this and we're really seeing the benefits."
Stephen McAuliffe, United States Reserve Command G-3/7 collective training division deputy chief, noted that components have always worked together, but that the value is now being fully recognized.
"It's always been there, but within the last two years, the Army recognized the need to have an ATFP and started the procedures to enable it," McAuliffe said. "This working group helps us integrate Active Army and Guard forces into our exercises, and allows us to integrate our exercises with other components, and to support other components' exercises."
First Army plays a crucial role in ATFP, as it provides long-term readiness for the National Guard and Reserve. Under ATFP, active duty, Reserve and National Guard Soldiers are held to the same training standard, ensuring uniformity and seamless mission accomplishment whether the element called on is a two-person team or a brigade. The intent of ATFP is to build and sustain readiness across the reserve component.
Soldiers and leaders from different units and components share tactics, techniques, and procedures during integrated training, Fink said. "They're able to help each other out and learn what the other is capable of doing."
For example, during an exercise at Camp Grayling, Michigan, an Active Duty infantry unit worked closely with reserve component field artillery battalions.
"The battery commanders were stunned at the variety of weapons that one platoon humps on their back when they come join you. At the same time, the infantry guys had never been near the guns. They helped load them, saw how heavy they were, how long it takes to move them, and it gave them a better appreciation of what field artillery does and how they can work together. They taught each other a lot," Fink said.
McAuliffe said he is also seeing the benefit of Army Total Force Policy. "It's going well. It will take a couple of years to institutionalize," he said. "The biggest focus right now is giving the institutions the knowledge of each components' abilities and limitations. That has to get embedded in the institutions, not just with the subject matter experts."
Col. Tony Adrian, Director of Training for the Army National Guard, said the Working Group was beneficial. "It helps a lot," he said. "Just the increased involvement of First Army and Lt. Gen. Tucker in our training has made us better."
First Army's role in facilitating ATFP includes providing observer coach/trainers, exercise design and support, mission command, and scenario development, a holistic approach that includes focusing on individual, leader and collective training. This assistance, and how it supports ATFP, was addressed in detail during the working group.
"We are focused on Army Total Force Policy," Fink said. "We are maturing the vision we had in previous working groups. Having now done some major exercises with the active component, we're starting to see the real benefit of the partnership."
Based on discussions during this working group, participants, will refine their training plans for the next fiscal year. Working group attendees included field grade officers and senior civilian personnel from the Army Reserve, Army National Guard, Forces Command, and First Army Divisions East and West
"Our commanding general is looking closer at the culminating training events," Fink said. "We have recognized that, as a team of teams, we are working closely together with our partners, and we are leveraging the fact that our brigades can function best as an operations group. Let our brigade commander control all the observer coach/trainers in an exercise; give him the opposing force; make him responsible for effects on the battlefield."
Planning takes place long before the exercise begins, according to Fink. "The First Army Commander, Lt. Gen. (Michael S.) Tucker, wants our brigade commanders to attend the initial planning conference for each exercise so that we are at the table when decisions are getting made, and we can influence them," he said. "You've got to come prepared and let them know what you're capable of and how you can help them."
First Army, in accordance with Title 11 and Army Total Force Policy, partners with United States Army Reserve and Army National Guard leadership to advise, assist, and train reserve component formations to achieve Army Force Generation-directed readiness requirements during both pre- and post-mobilization through multicomponent integrated collective training, enabling Forces Command to provide combatant commanders trained and ready forces in support of worldwide requirements.