ROCK ISLAND ARSENAL, Ill. - First Army brought its new brigade and battalion command team members here Sept. 14-16 for a command team certification. The event aimed to set First Army commanders and command sergeants major up for success when carrying out their duties.First Army Commanding General, Lt. Gen. Thomas James Jr., explained the importance of what those leaders do, and how the certification will help with that.“First Army is a very unique formation and the only unit in the Army with this mission,” he said. “So I want you to take advantage of these couple of days. The staff has put together a great program to highlight the complexities of Total Force and enabling the readiness of the Army National Guard and Army Reserve.”Indeed, the certification represents time well spent, according to Col. James Moyes, commander of Division West’s 5th Armored Brigade.“It’s beneficial for me to understand the synchronization between the echelons and the interaction between us and Division East and between us and our partnered brigades,” he said. “It’s an incredible mission to have the ability to train units going into harm’s way and make sure they have the adequate training so that they accomplish the mission and come back to their families.”The 5th Armored Brigade’s senior enlisted Soldier, Command Sgt. Maj. Darrell Walls, had two previous trips to the CTC cancelled, once due to mission requirements and once because of the coronavirus. But the delayed trip proved worth it.“It’s very beneficial,” Walls said. “When you start talking the dialogue between East and West and how vital that link is, that’s where this pays off the most.”Coming from geographically dispersed areas, attendees were afforded the chance to engage with First Army senior leaders and staff. During the three days, they gained a better understanding of First Army's crucial role in implementing Army Total Force Policy, which helps ensure that Active Duty, Reserve, and Army National Guard Soldiers are trained and held to the same standard. This is crucial since the Army must leverage the capabilities of all its components to win on a complex, multi-domain battlefield.“Our nation has never and will never win a war without the Guard and Reserve,” James said.He noted the mission is so crucial that it continued despite COVID-19.“We never stopped collective training in First Army during the pandemic,” James said. “We had active MFGIs going on and are the only formation in the Army that can say that.”First Army, as U.S. Forces Command's designated coordinating authority for implementation of ATFP, partners with U.S. 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 multicomponent integrated collective training. This enables FORSCOM to provide combatant commanders trained and ready forces in support of worldwide requirements.First Army integrates all three of those components into one team. While that is an ongoing process, networking and the knowledge gained during the certification helps lay the groundwork for success.“If you are new to First Army and its mission, I encourage you to crosstalk with your battle buddies here from the other brigades and the divisions,” said First Army’s senior enlisted Soldier, Command Sgt. Maj. John McDwyer. “It’s good to know what others are doing because you will interact a lot. Build some relationships here. Put a face to the name and get to know them and things will be easier.”James noted that the new command team members are continuing a proud, accomplished tradition.“Mission, history, and people define the ‘A’ that we wear on our shoulder,” he said. “Gen. John J. Pershing said in 1918 that it’s not about the Active, Guard, and Reserve, it’s about preparing the American citizen for the duties of war. And today, it’s about the observer coach/trainer that shows up at 3 in the morning in the Tactical Operations Center and says, ‘We’ve got some challenges and here’s a way to get at it and I’m with you.’ Let’s make sure that gets down to the lowest level in every formation within Task Force Deed.”