By Lt. Col. Jefferson WolfeNovember 4, 2019
FORT BRAGG, N.C. - The 1st Civil Affairs and Psychological Operations Training Brigade just got a lot busier.
The 1st CA/PO Training Brigade, headquartered at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, reorganized as of Oct. 1 to become a subordinate unit under the 350th Civil Affairs Command, headquartered in Pensacola, Florida. In so doing, the Brigade assumed command and control of three civil affairs battalions that previously reported directly to the 350th CACOM.
The battalions include: the 478th Civil Affairs Battalion, in Perrine, Florida; the 486th Civil Affairs Battalion, in Tulsa, Oklajoma; and the 436th Civil Affairs Battalion, in Pinellas Park, Florida.
"This realignment gives the 350th CACOM two subordinate brigades, bringing it in line with our other three civil affairs commands," said Maj. Gen. Darrell Guthrie, the commanding general of U.S. Army Civil Affairs and Psychological Operations Command. "It will streamline operations for the 350th CACOM and reduce the span of control of both USACAPOC and the 350th CACOM. Importantly, it provides one-star oversight and direction of its traditional 1st CA/PO Training Brigade mission. In sum, the realignment will improve readiness, both internal to the 350th CACOM and across USACAPOC."
Before the change, all the civil affairs commands under USACAPOC(A) had two brigades reporting to them, except the 350th CACOM, which had only one. This reorganization corrected that.
"It will redistribute the workload appropriately based on the mission and doctrine of the U.S. Army," said Col. David Spess, the 350th CACOM deputy commanding officer. "It's the right way to do business."
The doctrine calls for a brigade headquarters to be between the battalions and the CACOM, he said.
The 350th wanted to add another brigade headquarters to improve command and control for years, and this move accomplished the goal.
"I've been really happy about how we've been welcomed by the CACOM," said Lt. Col. Eric Marella, the 1st CA/PO Training Brigade's deputy commander.
The new subordinate battalions shouldn't see any significant changes in how the brigade operates, because the leaders have tried to adopt the same staff processes and battle rhythm events as the 350th CACOM already had, said Maj. Raymond Bixler, the Brigade's operations officer.
"They shouldn't see any difference in how processes are done," he said. "It's just who pushes the buttons."
Staff members from the various units conducted regular meetings to plan for the reorganization, Marella said.
The 1st CA/PO Training Brigade also will keep command and control of the five subordinate training companies it already had. It will continue its mission of training and validating deploying civil affairs and psychological operations units and providing Observer-Controller/Trainers to the training missions at the National Training Center at Fort Irwin and the Joint Readiness Training Center at Fort Polk.
The workload for the Brigade will surge as it goes from serving about 160 Soldiers to more than 800 Soldiers, Marella said.
"It's a bigger job for all our staff structure," he said.
Fortunately, the Brigade already had a very robust full-time staff, because of the constant training mission, he added.
So far, the biggest impact on the 1st CA/PO Training Brigade has been the Soldiers' increased workload, Marella said.
"They're all rolling up their sleeves and digging in," he said. "It's helped that we've had processes in place for our companies."
One large hurdle to prepare for the transition was getting all the computer systems to reflect the new chain of command, including pay, orders, training, personnel, and Soldier and unit readiness systems.
Spess agreed that getting the many computer and logistics networks to line up has been the most difficult part of the process. There is no one place that coordinates all of them, so each system had to be worked one-by-one.
The process is ahead of schedule, he said.
"Through the dedicated assistance of the USACAPOC staff and the hard work of the Training Brigade and the CACOM staffs, we've been able to get almost all the wrinkles worked out, he added.
The reorganization is only the first of two phases, Bixler said. The second phase will involve restructuring the Brigade to fit into the new organization.
Phase two will not be completed for 18 months to three years, he said.
No positions are to be lost with the restructuring, as neither traditional reserve positions nor full-time positions will be lost, Bixler said. However, positions may move from one unit to another.