By W. Wayne MarlowSeptember 18, 2015
ROCK ISLAND ARSENAL, Ill. - First Army welcomed its new commanders, command sergeants major, and Senior Advisors to the Army National Guard during an orientation held here Sept. 14-18 in First Army headquarters. Attendees were given an overview of First Army and equipped with the tools to carry out their duties.
This is the second year that First Army has included SRAAGs in the orientation. Each state and territory has a SRAAG whose mission is to provide military advice and assistance to the state's Army National Guard commanders concerning organization, operations, training and readiness.
Col. Robert King, SRAAG for Idaho, came to the orientation already knowing something about First Army, but said the week was well-spent.
"I'm lucky enough that, before I became the SRAAG, I attended the spring commanders' conference where I got to meet a lot of the people," King said. "But I still had some questions about what the SRAAG duties were. The SRAAG breakout sessions were the most helpful part for me. We got to sit and talk with SRAAGs who have been in the job for a while."
Meanwhile, new command team members learned what battle rhythm they can expect in their positions, especially regarding Operation Bold Shift, an ongoing First Army's transformation.
Besides Bold Shift, the other key topic of the conference was Army Total Force Policy, which requires the Army's active, Reserve and National Guard components to train to the same standard and operate toward a common goal. Attendees were also given an overview of First Army, the Reserve Component, the mobilization process, as well as information on Defense Support to Civil Authorities and homeland operations.
On the first and final days of the orientation, First Army Commanding General, Lt. Gen. Michael S. Tucker, addressed the attendees. He noted this is the first time that battalion commanders have attended the orientation, and he stressed the importance of that.
"I've read every question you asked and they were absolutely terrific. They were indicative of the quality of officers that we have in our battalions," he said. "It showed your professionalism and your desire to get it right. A battalion commander sees a different battlefield that a brigade commander does. The details are more refined that what you would see at the brigade level."
For Command Sgt. Maj. John W. Foley, senior enlisted adviser for Division East's 188th Infantry Brigade, the conference began on his fourth day on the job.
"It's great timing for me," he said. "It's gone really well. I've gotten a clarification of the overall mission, what the commander's intent is, and what our focus areas should be."
Foley said he gained a better comprehension of First Army's role and relationship to Reserve Component forces. "I understand our partnerships with the National Guard units in our region and how we get them ready for their culminating training event and mobilization."
With regard to ATFP, Foley said, "There haven't really been any surprises because I did my homework before I got here and got as much information as I could on Army Total Force Policy and what our role is. I had heard the term and I sort of understood that it's 'three components, one Army,' but this has broken it down and explained the details."
Likewise, the orientation gave him a better overview of First Arm's transformation. "We've been given a lot of good information on where First Army is headed," Foley said. "Bold Shift was a big thing that I sort of knew there was a restructure, but I didn't understand the entire piece."
First Army, as U.S. Forces Command's designated coordinating authority for implementation of the Army Total Force Policy, partners with U.S. Army Reserve and Army National Guard leadership to advise, assist, and train reserve component 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.