By Warren MarlowJune 21, 2019
Building readiness and lethality to fight and win the nation's wars requires partnership, trust and realistic training across the Active and Reserve components to fight shoulder-to-shoulder.
Under Army Total Force Policy, or ATFP, members of all components are trained and held to the same standard. As U.S. Army Forces Command's coordinating authority for implementation of ATFP, First Army supports Reserve Component pre-mobilization, post-mobilization, demobilization and leader development through established partnerships. This helps units maximize their collective training opportunities and assists commanders in meeting their objectives.
To perform this mission, First Army has a presence at 11 dispersed installations in the continental US, where it provides pre- and post-mobilization support to 145,000 Reserve Component Soldiers annually. The command, led by Lt. Gen. Thomas James, is organized with a headquarters, two division headquarters and 10 Training Support Brigades, while maintaining oversight over the 85th Army Reserve Support Command. First Army also operates two active Mobilization Force Generation Installations at Fort Hood, Texas, and Fort Bliss, Texas, through which Reserve Component units deploy.
In the pre-mobilization phase, a Reserve Component unit utilizes a four or five-year deployment cycle to build their readiness in anticipation of a deployment notification. During this time, First Army supports Reserve Component capstone events, enables component commanders to develop a five-year unit training plan and increase readiness.
The readiness cycle begins with scenario-based Brigade Warfighter exercises, where First Army's duties include providing Observer Coach/Trainers, or OC/Ts, who serve as subject-matter experts when unit members conduct tasks on its Mission Essential Task List.
Lessons learned in the warfighter exercise helps prepare the unit for the next step, a Combat Support Training Exercise, or CSTX, or Exportable Combat Training Capability, or XCTC. During these training events, Reserve Component commanders and Soldiers continue to refine items on the unit's METL. First Army's role includes creating training lanes and designing scenarios which enable the training unit to demonstrate its capabilities. The lanes are custom-built around what a unit or section does to further prepare Soldiers for deployment.
Having completed these lanes, a Reserve Component unit may participate in a rotation to Fort Polk's Joint Readiness Training Center or Fort Irwin's National Training Center, performing their tasks on an increasingly complex scale. First Army partner brigades enable Reserve Component commanders to shape the exercise to meet the commander's training objectives. First Army also continues to provide OC/Ts as the unit crosses the final hurdles prior to deploying.
In the Post-Mobilization phase, a unit prepares for an imminent mission, moving to either Fort Bliss or Fort Hood for any individual and collective training before their Culminating Training Event, and final validation prior to deploying overseas. Here, First Army also acts as a liaison between the gaining Combatant Command and the Reserve Component unit, facilitating communication and coordination.
When the unit has completed their mission and conducts redeployment, Soldiers of the unit see First Army personnel once again. In the redeployment phase, First Army Soldiers take best practices and demobilization briefs and incorporate them into lessons learned. This maintains a crucial knowledge link between separate and distinct Reserve Component units, enabling the next unit to enact a more orderly transition in-theater while fostering innovation.
Through this cycle of complex, tough, realistic training, First Army enables Reserve Component units to complete their vital missions anywhere in the world.