The following is the first in a series of articles highlighting Fort Riley's role as one of 25 Regional Collective Training Capability installations in the U.S.

FORT RILEY, Kan. -- On average, Fort Riley trains between 16,000 and 19,000 Reserve Component Soldiers every year through the Mobilization and Reserve Support Branch of the Directorate of Plans, Training, Mobilization and Security, according to Steve Crusinberry, chief, Operations and Plans Division, DPTMS.

The MRSB, located at Camp Funston is a very efficient one-stop shop, said Dave Dawson, chief, MRSB. Dawson and his staff exist to connect the Reserve Component Soldiers and National Guardsmen with food, billeting and training support during their yearround visits to Fort Riley.

MRSB also hosts a plethora of other organizations from time to time, like the Marine Reserves, Kansas State University and University of Kansas ROTC programs, local high school JROTC programs, Boy Scouts of America, Kansas Bureau of Investigation, local SWAT teams, the 101st Airborne Division, Soldiers utilizing the Military Schools Program and many others who request billeting space while training at Fort Riley.

Additionally, Maj. Gen. William C. Mayville, 1st Inf. Div. and Fort Riley commanding general, has training readiness authority over three other brigades not stationed at Fort Riley that utilize Camp Funston and other resources through the 1st Inf. Div., said Tim Livsey, director, DPTMS.

In preparation for deployments to Afghanistan, Camp Funston housed all external participants for the Unified Endeavor Exercise last January, Dawson said. In June, 80 members of the Royal Canadian Dragoons will stay in the billets.

Camp Funston's Operational Readiness Training Center possesses four large brick and mortar buildings that can house about 1,400 people altogether. The ORTC buildings have mostly open-bay billets, Dawson said, and each has eight 40-man bays in them as well as four rooms for senior leadership.

"We're like a big, inexpensive hotel," Crusinberry said. "We built this entire ORTC complex for the reserve components and the Transition Team mission of the (1st Brigade, 1st Inf. Div.)."

All ORTC buildings have showers and latrines, and the Combat Aviation Brigade's dining facility is in close proximity to Camp Funston.

The ORTC provides a low-cost, efficient alternative for Soldiers staying and living at Fort Riley while they train, Livsey said.

The number of Soldiers using Camp Funston is expected to rise in the next couple years as deployments decrease, according to Livsey, because it is one of Fort Riley's training facets in the new Forces Command Regional Collective Training Capability concept.

Fort Riley was identified as an RCTC host installation in July 2011 -- one of 25 in the Army.

"There is an Armywide push for more centralized efficient training. The Army can't afford many places to train. We must focus efforts," Livsey said.

With 25 places as the focus in the continental U.S. that active and reserve components can go to train, Fort Riley can expect to support and train a more diverse customer base, thereby focusing the footprint, Livsey said.

In a time of budget cuts and fewer dollars, RCTC is an effort at effectiveness and efficiency within the capacity the Army has, and according to Livsey, Fort Riley will thrive and grow because of it.

"We're postured very well because we have capacity built since (Base Realignment and Closure 2005)," he said.

Camp Funston's large capacity and central location recently attracted nine companies with the 530th Military Police Battalion, an Army Reserve unit out of Omaha, Neb., for weekend training from March 8 to 11 at Fort Riley.

Fort Riley's wide variety of resources and equipment supported the "Guardians" during their training exercise, which they were able to accomplish the following:
• Engagement skills trainer marksmanship and combat scenario training
• Physical fitness tests
• Weapons qualification
• Crew-served weapons training
• Land navigation
• Raven unmanned aerial vehicle training
• Mine resistant ambush protected vehicle training
• MRAP Egress training
• Cordon-and-search training
• Detainee and point-of-capture training
• Convoy training
• Improvised explosive device recognition

"It was a big accomplishment to get units here from all over the U.S.," said Maj. Stephen Perry, operations officer in charge, 530th MP Bn.

The unit came for weapons qualification and collective training events and used Fort Riley to the max, before traveling back to (its) respective locations in Kansas, Nebraska, Utah and Iowa, Perry said.

"It works well because active component units don't typically train on the weekends, so (reserve component) units have access to the ranges," Dawson said. "Those units have the same mission as every other (active component) unit in the Army, and that is to train to go to war … we offer the services that they need to get their training done."

Perry said he and the battalion's leadership prefer Fort Riley because they have never had problems here, and the ORTC has consistently been accommodating, even with short notice of the unit's needs.

"Everyone has been very accommodating … the battalion commander loves coming down here. He sees it as a premier training site for us. We get everything we ask for. We're amazed by it," Perry said.

Reserve units like the 530th MP Bn. fulfill critical roles, Crusinberry said, and the nation still needs them.

"Training reserve components and National Guardsmen is something we've been doing for a long time. I personally saw 60-year-old men getting on planes back in 2002 and 2003, going to Iraq and Afghanistan to fight. I've put them on the plane myself -- used to train them. Living through that, I have empathy for what (they've) done for us and this country over the last 10 years," he said.

"If there's anything we can do to help improve their lives here on Fort Riley when they come to train -- improve their combat readiness and ensure that they've got a better chance when they deploy to a combat zone to do their mission -- then let's take care of them here before they go," Crusinberry said.

For more information on Camp Funston and the MRSB's capabilities, visit http://riley.army.mil/UnitPage.aspx?unit=DPTMS.Train.RCSD

Page last updated Thu March 29th, 2012 at 00:00