FORT HOOD, Texas -- Division West's 120th Infantry Brigade hosted a Multi-Component Joint Assessment here recently that brought together representatives from 80 deploying Army National Guard and Army Reserve units.

The conference was the first of its kind here, as it usually takes place on Fort Leavenworth, Kansas.

"An MCJA is the first time a deploying unit gets an opportunity to meet with the Soldiers who will assist and validate their training before deployment," said Col. Brian Payne, 120th Infantry Brigade commander.

Fort Hood's Mission Command Training Complex was selected as the MCJA location, as it most closely resembles facilities at Leavenworth. The decision to hold the conference on Fort Hood bridged the gap between deploying units' expectations of the installation and provided them with an up-close look at Hood and its facilities.

"Units will either go to Fort Bliss or Fort Hood for validation, so having it here made better sense," Payne said. "We would've had a finite number of personnel at Leavenworth, but here we were able to mass the right amount of manpower behind the task."

Units participating in the conference were afforded an opportunity to get a detailed glimpse of what their deployed mission will look like, providing commanders with the ability to better predict obstacles and increase readiness.

"The conference helped us identify everything we have to accomplish before premobilization, mobilization, postmobilization and deployment," said Capt. Mary Shafer, commander of the Army Reserve's Headquarters and Headquarters Detachment, 420th Movement Control Battalion, 311th Expeditionary Sustainment Command, 79th Sustainment Support Command, and a native of Los Angeles. "We were given a checklist to make sure that we have a plan to track all of our necessary training requirements to get our unit to its objective."

Throughout the three-day conference, units were placed in direct contact with those individuals who will lead and execute validation for their deployments. In addition, Soldiers were provided a bus tour which took them to every site they would process through when they return for mobilization.

"During the past three days we have been able to identify tentative training dates to better plan their execution," Shafer said. "We were made aware of certain training requirements that have particular times and numbered slots, which helps us prepare before we show up here."

While future venues may be held at either Fort Leavenworth or Fort Hood, those in attendance were pleased with the experience of this year's conference.

"I have met with many First Army contacts this week and now am more aware of who is going to partner with the 420th this coming year," Shafer said. "We are building a strong partnership and we now understand each other's current and end state."