Before the 172nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team - now the 1st Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division - left Iraq, the Army was already busy planning for its return to the Army's "Ready Force Pool" and future missions.
Before the unit could be considered ready, a major reset - or complete overhaul of equipment and re-stationing and training of personnel - had to be accomplished fast enough to allow incoming personnel to train on the necessary equipment and in the proper training strategies.
The normal timeline for resetting and retraining a brigade is a year, including six months for equipment reset, said Chris Hoskinson, U.S. Army Alaska deputy G-4.
Alaska's Stryker Brigade Combat Team has been given four months for the equipment reset process.
"(1st SBCT, 25th ID) is the first unit in the Army to be directed to accomplish this effort in 120 days. The SBCT was extended in OIF partially because of the unique capabilities the brigade has," Hoskinson explained. "For this same reason, the Army has directed us to accelerate the reset of this SBCT."
This effort required resetting the Stryker vehicles and many other pieces of equipment in Alaska to eliminate the time spent transporting the equipment to and from other locations in the lower 48, where the Stryker vehicles would have otherwise been sent for reset.
"The Army is placing a lot of faith in our ability to turn this brigade around quickly and professionally and get them back in the fight," said Maj. Gen. Charles H. Jacoby Jr., commander of U.S. Army Alaska. "I have no doubt our Soldiers and civilians will get it done."
The planning and preparation that began before the unit returned was a major part of the overall push to regenerate the 1st SBCT's combat power.
"It (the preparation) required a considerable effort by the brigade in Iraq, assisted by USARAK and Army Materiel Command, in assessing equipment damage and determining where each item needed to be shipped for repair," Hoskinson explained.
"Nearly 5,000 pieces of equipment were shipped directly to eight separate repair locations in CONUS and more than 10,400 pieces of equipment were shipped directly to Alaska to be reset by the installation DOL and on-site Program Managers," she added.
Hoskinson said the reset requires a synchronized effort from the brigade, assisted by multiple agencies including USARAK, AMC, Human Resources Command, Headquarters Department of the Army and Installation Management Command.
"Primarily it takes a lot of up-front planning and re-looking at some of the processes we use," she explained. "It also means hiring additional contract personnel for extra shifts to reset the Stryker vehicle fleet at Fort Wainwright and other key components in Alaska and elsewhere."
Hoskinson said manpower for equipment being repaired in Alaska comes from the unit, installation DOL, AMC, HQDA and DoD contractors; manpower for repairs in the lower 48 comes from AMC and DoD contractors.
Not surprisingly, paperwork makes up the most protracted part of reset.
"Conducting 100-percent inventories and reconciling property book records is, by far, the most time consuming requirement," Hoskinson said.
As more equipment becomes available to the unit via reset, the brigade will gradually increase its training focus from individual Soldier training to small-unit training and eventually to SBCT-level training, Hoskinson said. They then enter the "Ready Force Pool" and continue to focus their training on their future missions.
The reset is scheduled for completion in June.