ROCK ISLAND ARSENAL, Ill. -- Crucial training opportunities for Army National Guard and Army Reserve units, and the assistance First Army can offer them, were highlighted during a Training Support and Synchronization Working Group (TSSWG), held here March 6-8.

The Working Group's main tasks were to confirm Fiscal Year 2019 training events and to ensure unit commanders are matched with the exercises that will be serve their units.

Col. Jason Joose, First Army G3/G5/G7, outlined training priorities in his opening remarks in the Pershing Conference Room of First Army headquarters. Joose told attendees that the First Army Commanding General, Lt. Gen. Stephen Twitty, wants First Army and the Reserve Component forecasting beyond the current year.

"The commanding general does want to get out a little further than we have in the past, so what you don't see on the slides is 2018," Joose said. "We're looking at 2019 and beyond, and there are some opportunities out there."

The Working Group also brought into focus First Army's priorities, with mobilization at the top. "There's only so much capacity in First Army, so we have a priorities of support," Joose said. "Those units that are mobilizing or demobilizing…we validate them for deployment. Then we have focus units who have a notification for sourcing but have not yet gone to the mobilization station. For them, we have an obligation to put First Army resources there and make sure those units are hitting pre-mobilization aim points."

Joose also stressed the importance of collective training and noted that "it needs to be laser-focused because you don't have time post-mob to get after laying asphalt or building bridges or running water purification to get the right pH levels and tasks like that. You've got to focus on shoot, move, communicate, medicate, decontaminate, and sustain. And we have to do that collectively."

Indeed, the lines between active and Reserve components and between echelons are becoming blurred, and that is reflected in how the Army trains. Scott Heron, a readiness manager for the 101st Airborne, said, "Active units don't train by themselves anymore above the battalion level. So if you want to do brigade and division level exercises, you come here and talk to Rick Fink (First Army deputy G3/G5/G7) and garner First Army support. For example, there may be a brigade FTX where there will be Army Reserve and National Guard elements coming in to prepare for a JRTC rotation. It's a matter of looking at the exercises and the different units' requirements and finding the right fit."

Like Joose, Heron noted that it goes beyond this year. "'The Working Group gives us great insight into what's out there," he said. "Not just the current year, but forecasting into 2019, 2020, and 2021."

Edward Chesney, deputy G3 for 3rd Infantry Division, echoed Heron's sentiments.

"Here, we get an understanding of our requirements and the exercise designs," he said. "A brigade commander has a lot of input into what an XCTC looks like, so by coming to the Working Group, we get a better idea of what a specific exercise will look like. We will know how much of it is going to be gunnery, how much are STX lanes, how much is maneuver, and so on."

Meeting face-to-face is another advantage of the Working Group, Chesney added. "First Army is good to work with and we tend to reinforce one another when we have issues," he said. "We come to a consensus and work it through."

Also attending was Maj. James Lehner, operations officer for Operations Group Wolf. "It's good for networking," he said. "And we're locking in what we're going to do for future training. This Working Group is important for us because we can support any brigade in First Army…and we come here to see what exercises will facilitate that."

The TSSWG built on Army Total Force Policy, which aims to ensure active and Reserve Component forces are manned, trained, and equipped to one standard. First Army, as FORSCOM'S designated coordinating authority for implementation of the Army Total Force Policy, partners with United States 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 multi-component integrated collective training, enabling FORSCOM to provide Combatant Commanders trained and ready forces in support of worldwide requirements.