Mission Support Element steps in
February 27, 2009
FORT RILEY, Kan. - A recent Army-wide restructuring of Forces Command units has led to the formation of the Fort Riley Mission Support Element. The MSE, based in Building 580 with 1st Infantry Division Headquarters, supports the Fort Riley senior commander with his Title 10 and administrative control responsibilities and performs some division staff tasks when the commanding general and division staff deploy.
Specifically, the MSE provides seamless and continuous administrative and Title 10 support to the post's senior commander, Brig. Gen. Perry Wiggins, who also is commanding general of 1st Inf. Div. and Fort Riley.
Administrative control and Title 10 support includes management of resources, equipment, personnel management, logistics, mobilization and demobilization, and unit readiness reporting.
In a synchronized movement, the MSE becomes a third column of Fort Riley's organizational structure. The MSE works closely with both division and garrison staffs to ensure staff support is provided to non-deployed units and post operations continue when the division headquarters goes to war. Critical to MSE's success is its ability to begin tackling its mission now, before the headquarters deploys.
"If we're doing those Title 10 and ADCON tasks now, then it's easier to transition when the division staff deploys," said Ollie Hunter, MSE director. "In theory, we're doing the same thing year-round, whether they're here or not."
Once the division headquarters deploys, Hunter also assumes the role of chief of staff for the acting senior commander on post. Hunter seems well suited for his responsibilities. The former Army colonel retired in 2004 after more than 30 years of active duty and two brigade commands.
The MSE is tasked with performing the division's noncombat tasks, freeing the division staff to train for deployment. For its mission, and working closely with the MSE, Fort Riley garrison staff will continue providing support to warfighters and their Families.
The MSE is authorized 63 civilians and 24 active duty Soldiers at Fort Riley.
The military members wear a FORSCOM patch. MSE staff members are located in Building 580, and Hunter emphasized, the MSE is a FORSCOM asset that serves the Fort Riley senior commander.
"We are the division staff's mission partners. We sit right next to them, we synchronize and coordinate with them," Hunter said.
Fort Riley also has small groups of MSE personnel, called satellites, based at Fort Sill, Okla., Fort Knox, Ky., and Fort Leonard Wood, Mo., to take care of 1st Inf. Div. Training and Readiness Authority units. TRA units are those not based at Fort Riley but that fall under the senior commander's oversight for training, equipping and manning.
"We've got the 3rd Expeditionary Support Command at Knox, and soon our 3rd Brigade will join them from Fort Hood" Hunter said. "At Fort Sill, we've got the 75th Fires Brigade, and we're standing up the 4th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade at Fort Leonard Wood."
As an example of the extent of the MSE's duties, there is a staff member from MSE's G3, G4 and G8 assigned to Fort Knox to provide TRA unit support. Each staffer works for their supervisor who is based at Fort Riley.
"If there are FORSCOM units on a non-FORSCOM post, you have to have an MSE there," Hunter said. "Those are (Training and Doctrine Command) or school posts for armor, artillery and engineers."
Because the MSE is not a mirror image of 1st Inf. Div. staff, the division's deployment could leave some gaps in the structure MSE staff will not fill. Examples include the duties of division chaplain, which will then be performed by the garrison Chaplain's Office.
Irwin Army Community Hospital will assume the division surgeon's duties. Division's Public Affairs Office duties will be handled by the garrison PAO, and tasks normally handled on post by the division Provost Marshal's Office will be handled by garrison PMO. The senior commander will determine how a list of other potential gaps will be filled in the division's absence.
"One way or another, we're going to get it done, working with garrison, division staff, rear detachment and the hospital. All these things are going to continue," Hunter said.
With the exception of a few staffers, most MSE personnel have been working on post for several years. As a result, they have the advantage of knowing points of contact, procedures and the command structure. Charged with the mission of making the organization's introduction seamless, Hunter said he hopes most post employees will not notice much of a change in daily business.
"When the division headquarters deploys, there will be a majority of civilians working in Building 580," he said. "For those used to working with their uniformed division staff counterparts that may come as a cultural shock. This is a FORSCOM-wide paradigm shift."
When division headquarters actually deploys to a battle zone, Hunter said everything will fall into place. Everything includes what Hunter refers to as the "dangling participles," such as golf tournaments, Victory Week, division runs, and other division-centric activities. Until that time, Hunter said the MSE will continue to fill its vacant slots, get all of its systems in place and train for mission success.