By Mr. Darryl Howlett (First Army)May 31, 2016
FORT HOOD, Texas -- The Army's mission endures, despite budgetary constraints. However, utilizing Reserve Component units and Soldiers is becoming more important in order to accomplish the Army's global commitments in support of combatant commanders' requirements.
With that mission in mind, First Army provided training support for elements of the 36th Infantry Division, Texas Army National Guard, for their pending overseas deployment to Afghanistan.
The 36th Infantry Division's Train Advise and Assist Command-South, headquartered in Austin, will serve as the command and control element of all military assets in their assigned area of operations. This deployment represents a unique opportunity for a reserve component command to conduct this mission.
"This is a huge deal for the 36th Infantry Division," said Lt. Gen. Michael S. Tucker, First Army commanding general. "(They) will be the first National Guard division to serve as command and control element since Kosovo."
According to Richard Fink, First Army's director of training, the 36th ID will conduct command and control coordination between Afghanistan forces, providing tactical information for both Department of Defense and Allied elements.
"First Army provided staff and joint training computer systems support," he said. "First Army also provided training support in military intelligence and culture/customs training."
First Army observer coach/trainers participated in both premobilization and post-mobilization training support with the 36th ID.
"First Army's role during post-mobilization training was to partner with 36th Infantry Division to assist with training requirements," said Capt. Anthony Rea, a training officer in First Army's training operations section. "On a larger scale, we also have a hand in logistical and administrative support throughout the process. This is all to ensure that 36th Infantry Division was prepared to execute their assigned mission."
As part of a training partnership with First Army, Soldiers from the 36th participated in a warrior exercise with First Army's OC/Ts from April 11-22.
The importance of elements of the 36th Infantry Division's deployment, lines up with First Army's Operation Bold Shift Initiative, which places unprecedented focus for premobilization readiness for Reserve Component units through partnerships with Army National Guard and Army Reserve units throughout the continental U.S., the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico.
The exercise provided an opportunity for OC/Ts to address and meet the division's deployment training objectives during post-mobilization training which began on May 6.
During the exercise in April, Soldiers conducted M40 protective mask qualifications, M4 and M9 qualifications training, counter-improvised explosive device training, and MRAP Egress training among other individual training requirements. The unit also participated in night fire weapons qualifications.
First Army assets assisting the 36th Infantry Division included Soldiers from Division West and 120th Infantry Brigade located in Fort Hood, Texas.
April's training followed a joint assessment held in January. In total, the unit conducted three weeks of premobilization training.
Tucker, also participated in a May Mission Readiness Exercise Battlefield Circulation with 36th Infantry Division's leadership right before the element deployed.
The 36th Infantry Division leadership said lessons learned from both 7th Infantry Division and First Army contributed to a successful pre- and post-mobilization training period. The 36th is replacing the 7th ID in Afghanistan.
"By integrating (lessons learned) into our training exercise immediately after (7th ID) return from Afghanistan, the (120th Infantry Brigade) was able to leverage their recent combat experience from theater into our mission readiness exercise," said Maj. Luke Talbot, 36th Infantry Division, public affairs officer. "This integration allowed our MRX to most closely resemble the current operational environment we will deploy into and gave our team the realistic and demanding training that will set us up for success."