ROCK ISLAND ARSENAL, Ill. - Newly-appointed senior advisors to the Army National Guard (SRAAG) learned more about their roles during a training conference hosted by First Army here from May 13-16.

SRAAGs provide military advice and assistance to their respective state's Army National Guard commanders concerning organization, operations, training, and readiness.

Each state and territory has a SRAAG, and 14 of those who have been appointed in the last year attended the conference. Joining them were one experienced SRAAG each from Division East and Division West. The seasoned SRAAGs were here to share their knowledge and explain more about the SRAAGs' duties and critical responsibilities. The Division East SRAAG, Col. Mark Powell of Elgin, S.C., explained the purpose of the conference.

"The SRAAGs were here to have a discussion of First Army's mission, how they fit into it, and to get a better idea of their duties," he said.

One of the key topics centered on Army Total Force Policy. This refers to all Active, Reserve, and National Guard components training to the same standard and operating toward a common goal. Powell gave an example of how this works.

"There may be an Active Army maneuver enhancement brigade with lots of assets, but it doesn't have engineers. So for a rotation to the Joint Readiness Training Center, they can be joined by a National Guard unit that has those engineers," he said. "Army Total Force Policy is about sharing resources and working together. Let's use Reserve forces to transport Guard forces, or let's have Active Duty act as the Opposing Force for a Reserve unit. Our piece as SRAAGs is to help advise states on what's available from the active side."

Attendees were also briefed on leadership development, best practices for First Army SRAAGs, and the mobilization process. The First Army Commanding General, Lt. Gen. Michael S. Tucker, addressed attendees on the final day. He stressed the critical role SRAAGs play in sustaining readiness, and in continuing the partnership between the Guard formations and First Army.

This was the first SRAAG conference to be hosted by First Army. "We anticipate changes coming to First Army and we have a lot of new SRAAGs on board, so we decided to bring them here," Powell said. "We let them know, this is the way to hold a board, or this is where you go to get the information you need."

Powell called the event a success. "It went extremely well," he said. "It was useful. The support by First Army was great and there was great communication between everyone."

First Army, as FORSCOM's designated coordinating authority for implementation of the Army Total Force Policy, partners with USAR and ARNG leadership to advise, assist, and train RC formations to achieve Department of the Army-directed readiness requirements during both pre-and post-mobilization through multicomponent integrated collective training, enabling FORSCOM to provide Combatant Commanders trained and ready forces in support of worldwide requirements.