On Nov. 19, 2020, Sgt. Maj. of the Army Michael A. Grinston held a symposium with Staff Sergeants from 1st Battalion, 7th Air Defense Artillery; 3rd Battalion, 4th Air Defense Artillery Regiment; and the 108th Air Defense Artillery Brigade Headquarters in order to understand and frame the issues that are being identified at the squad level as a byproduct of a high operations tempo.
“I know we ask a lot of you. I want to make sure that everyone at the highest levels understands. I have to have your voice to show what the impacts are” said Grinston during the forum at Fort Bragg, North Carolina.
As noted by Secretary of the Army Ryan D. McCarthy during the Association of the United States Army Now 2020 event, the higher operations tempo of the past two decades has taken a toll on individual Soldiers. This has included Air Defenders and Air Defense organizations’ support personnel, who have seen what seems like an exponential rise in demand for their skill sets in forward environments.
To identify and address concerns, the Air Defense community and the Army are taking action through these forums and proposing changes to how we prepare and employ Air Defender units.
Concerns raised by the noncommissioned officers of the two battalions were the stress on Soldiers that deployments in quick succession bring, the impacts that modernization has on training timelines, and personnel concerns to support split operations across multiple areas of operation.
“Your jobs are very complex, so the focus has to be manning you with the right MOS (Military Occupation Specialties) and the right amount”, said Grinston of the personnel concern. He continued, “I look at the Air Defense Artillery (manning) numbers every month. It is a priority, you are the future of the Army.”
The Army is currently studying an 18-month cycle of the Regionally Aligned Readiness and Modernization Model or ReARMM. The cycle is split into six month phases of receiving and familiarizing with new equipment while reorganizing, intensive training, and available for deployment. While this cycle is being observed, optimal phase length is still being looked at as different units have different equipment complexities. For instance, Air Defense organizations may require more time in the modernization phase than other units. ReARMM is designed to provide units predictability in training, modernization, and deployments.
“It is obvious to us that we’re important to him and the Army. I think that it is great that Sgt. Maj. of the Army is finding the time to assist Air Defense Soldiers with the challenges we currently face”, said Staff Sgt. Billy Register of Bravo Battery, 1st Battalion, 7th Air Defense Artillery who attended the event.
Grinston concluded the meeting with an assurance to the noncommissioned officers present, “I’m going to do everything I can to reduce the stress on your organizations and you.”