ROCK ISLAND ARSENAL, Ill. ----Civilian aides to the Secretary of the Army were given an overview of the First Army mission during a briefing here Aug. 12. Maj. Gen. Paul Benenati, First Army commanding general for support, addressed the aides as part of the Central Region CASA Conference.

The conference was a chance for commands on Rock Island Arsenal to update the aides on issues impacting the commands. Civilian aides to the Secretary of the Army are business and community leaders selected by the Secretary to advise and support Army leaders.

Benenati outlined First Army's history, from Gen. of the Armies John J. Pershing through the 1990s. "Then 9/11 happened," he said. "And First Army's focus changed to almost exclusively to post-mobilization training. That's been the primary focus until last year."

Benenati said the focus is now on Operation Bold Shift. This refers to First Army executing an initiative to improve its ability to provide training support to the Reserve Component and reduce post-mobilization training time. When the initiative is complete, First Army will have nine larger and more versatile training brigades providing combat training center operations group capability.

"We're doing whatever we can to reduce post-mobilization training time," Benenati said.
While there are challenges involved, Benenati said First Army and the Reserve Component are up to the task.

"I've never seen the leadership of the Army Reserve and National Guard and First Army working together as well as they are right now," he said.

Benenati also touched on Army Total Force Policy, which refers to Active Duty, National Guard, and Army Reserve Soldiers all being trained to the same standard. First Army serves as Forces Command's designated coordinating authority for implementation of the ATFP. The policy is designed to increase partnership, teamwork, and multi-component integrated training, as well as streamline pre-deployment coordination.

"We are looking at what we can do to enhance training and see what we can do to ensure these exercises and collective events are better integrated," Benenati said. "I think every exercise that we've got now has all three components in it."