ROCK ISLAND ARSENAL, Ill. - The support and resources First Army can offer Army National Guard and Reserve units were the focus of a Training Support Synchronization Working Group (TSSWG), held at First Army headquarters March 19-20.

The working group discussions will be further solidified at a conference to be held at Fort Bragg, N.C., next month.

"The First Army Training Support Synchronization Working Group is conducted prior to the Army Synchronization Resourcing Conference and is synchronized with both the National Guard and Army Reserve," said Rick Fink, First Army assistant chief of staff for training. "When we get to ASRC, folks will have done their homework and will know the issues that are going to come up."

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 multi-component integrated collective training, enabling Forces Command to provide combatant commanders trained and ready forces in support of worldwide requirements.

In essence, First Army provides long-term readiness for the National Guard and Reserve Component. It does this in many ways, including providing Observer-Coach/Trainers, exercise design and support, mission command, and scenario development. This is part of a holistic approach than includes focus on individual, leader, and collective training. This assistance was addressed in detail at the TSSWG.

Attendees included general and field grade officers and senior civilian personnel from the Army Reserve, Army National Guard, Forces Command, and First Army Divisions East and West. "We were well-represented with people who could take the message out," Fink said.

The number of general officers marked a change from previous work groups, Fink noted.

"In the past, our TSSWG has been a worker-focused working group, where there were a couple of lieutenant colonels and majors here," Fink said. "This time, it truly was about working in the weeds, trying to figure out, 'Hey, I need help on this exercise. Can anybody get me this resource or that training support'

"Lt. Gen. Michael S. Tucker, the First Army commanding general, wanted to bring everybody together so that they could be made aware of the issues and decisions that have to be made at

At the ASRC, the ideas formulated at the TSSWG can be finalized. "There were quite a few recommendations that came out of this conference. But, because we work for FORSCOM, the decisions will be made at ASRC," Fink said.

Integrating Active, Reserve and Guard components during training is one key element that emerged from the working group "That is one of the larger themes that Lt. Gen. Tucker has pushed us toward: the integration of all components in exercises, where it's appropriate," Fink said.

The full benefit of the working group will be seen later, he added, as second- and third-order effects start to occur. "Once people understand your vision and concept and the direction we need to go, which is the integration of our components…people will understand these are the things First Army can do," Fink said. "We're no longer focused only on units preparing for deployment."

While attendees of the working group made plans for several years in the future, their main focus was fiscal year 2015.

"Everybody looked at the training events that are out there," Fink explained." We want to make sure we have our priorities in line. We said, 'Let's make sure the high priority events are definitely supported. Let's identify the next level that we're going to try to support. And let's be clear about what we're not going to support because it doesn't fit the priority.'"

After the working group, units know better how First Army will be able to help them.

"We were able to look at what culminating training events we have to focus on," Fink said.
"We can tell a unit, 'This big exercise would be a good one for you to do your annual training at next year.' We were also able to identify some of the events where First Army, because of the pending changes, will not have enough resources to support. Knowing that early makes it much less difficult to coordinate, as opposed to calling the unit 30 days out."

All in all, the TSSWG was a successful couple of days, according to Fink.

"I think we managed to make some good progress," he said. "We learned some good lessons and know where to go from here."