By Capt. Antonia Greene-Edwards, 174th Infantry Brigade Public Affairs October 24, 2013
JOINT BASE MCGUIRE-DIX-LAKEHURST, N.J. -- A Republic of Korea Army Major recently visited two First Army Division East brigades as part of a mobilization assessment to assist in the ROK's development of an operational Reserve force.
"It is challenging to adapt our current Reserve strategic system to meet our ROK Army operational needs," said Maj. Ji Hwan Park, Third (ROK) Army Mobilization Training Officer. "But learning how it is done is half the battle."
The ROK Army is in the developmental stages of transitioning its strategic Reserve forces into an
operational, ready Reserve force, according to Park.
"It is my job to filter and translate the information gained during my visit and propose how we can apply these practices to enhance our mobilization training model," explained Park. "Although we have a two-year, mandatory military obligation in South Korea, and a follow on four-year Reserve service, our Reserve component is not fully operational."
The two First Army Division East brigades, the 174th Infantry Brigade and 72nd Field Artillery Brigade -- both at Joint Base McGuire Dix Lakehurst, N.J., were Park's third stop in the two-week visit. He also visited the Army Reserve, and the National Guard Bureau.
While at JBMDL, he gathered information and lessons learned concerning the U.S. Army Reserve and National Guard mobilization training process. This included conceptual courses of action to help our allied ROK Army achieve its full capacity by adapting its current Reserve component system to meet the projected future needs of the ROK Army.
"First Army has the unique privilege of providing realistic and professional training to joint services and the Reserve Component preparing for deployment to numerous areas of responsibility," said Maj. Joseph J. Pyun, 174th Infantry Brigade operations officer. "Our current formation consists in large part of mobilized Reservists who have gone through the mobilization process previously and convey relevant personal experiences to the current mobilizing units."
This was the first time Maj. Viet Le, part of the 72nd FA Bde's operations office, participated in this type of event.
"While it may not be a duplicate of our system, we were able to provide a foundation that could be used in the future," Le said.
At JBMDL, Park learned about and observed the tactical-level mobilization training process. He received briefings by the 72nd FA Bde plans sections and observed Army Reserve and Joint Services Training Oversight forces conducting practical exercises in the field and virtual environment under the direction of 174th Inf Bde OC/Ts.
"I have had strategic mobilization discussions, operational-level briefings, and now see the tactical training. There are a lot of important details that will bridge the gap between our active and reserve to make a full capacity ROK Army," said Park.
Le agreed and explained that, as a unit that specializes in mobilizing low-density Reserve and Guard units, the Division East input was especially relevant.
"Because the ROK is considering a similar structure, we were able to provide a better understanding of how U.S. Reserve and National Guard forces strengthen the military," Le concluded.
At the 72nd FA Bde, F. Antonio Volante, Operations chief, said Park received an overview of the mobilization process.
"Essentially, we are responsible for the development of the unit training plans," Volante said. "Maj. Park walked away with fundamental precepts and tenets of the mobilization process to include the pre-mobilization training requirements."
The 174th Infantry Brigade is responsible for executing the plan developed by its sister brigade, the 72nd. Both brigades are multi-component with Active duty and Reserve component Soldiers and battalions supporting the daily training mission, explained Pyun.
"Our AC/RC force structure, and training mission provides valuable insight on working jointly between both active component and Reserve component formations across all branches of service," added Pyun.
"First Army Division East assisting and training RC units to achieve required readiness in support of Army Total Force Policy also lends itself to partnering with allied forces."
The ROK conducts these visits annually as part of their focus on their reserve forces.
"The mobilization training process takes time and many resources," Park said. "The U.S. system works well but it is a still a challenge at all levels to plan and coordinate. A focus on readiness is our overall goal."
With that focus in mind, Pyun said the Brigades selected training they felt most mirrored the ROK's reserve mission.
"I believe what is most relevant to the ROK Reserve mission is readiness training, encompassing individual training as prescribed in doctrine, to collective training which is accomplished through comprehensive events like WAREX, CSTX, and XCTCs," said Pyun. "These events will provide the ROK 'Reserves' a training goal to implement their training plan analogous to our ARFORGEN cycle, and maximize training accomplishment within the small window 'drill weekends' they have available throughout the training year."
As the Army's executive agent for providing training to RC units Pyun said the insights he and his Soldier's provide is very relevant to the ROK's initiatives
"First Army supports our partner Armies by providing valuable insight on how adaptable a uniquely structured AC/RC training formation accomplishes both RFP-D and RFP-N realistic and relevant training," added Pyun.