Since 2012, the Army Total Force Policy has invigorated consistent increased integration between all components as a total force. This is especially true at the tactical and operational level (division and below) in the Asia-Pacific area of operations where the total force has embraced the countless real-world challenges of natural disaster, regional security threats, and today, the COVID-19 pandemic.
The integration of the Reserve Component (RC) into these missions is past the pivotal point that makes these units vital to complete success. In particular, on the Korean Peninsula, the 19th Expeditionary Sustainment Command (ESC) and the 658th Regional Support Group (RSG) have embraced and continue to demonstrate this position on a daily basis. One of the driving factors of success is the U.S. Army Reserve’s (USAR) Ready Force X (RFX) framework which provides Active Component (AC) senior commanders with a predictive readiness model for RC formations in the theater. As directed by the former Chief of the Army Reserve and Commanding General, U.S. Army Reserve Command, Lt. Gen. Charles Luckey, RFX units need to be ready to “Fight Fast” and be prepared to deploy on short notice to respond to contingencies when needed. Both entities recognize the role of the partnership in meeting the number one priority, readiness, thus, a mutual respect and unity of effort has formed. Together through a shared understanding of the environment in Korea, as well as the need to “Fight Tonight,” Team-19 collective operates under the same lines of effort and training strategy. This year alone, the RSG executed real-world missions such as the oversight to the Korea Rotation Forces in June 2019, participation in a warfighter exercise, chaplain support with 2nd Infantry Division and mobilizing a subordinate command, the 302nd Quartermaster Company in Guam to provide support to find Task Force Utu in 2018. Most recently, the 658th RSG provided support to Task Force West in support of the COVID-I9 pandemic in the Pacific. In addition, the 658th RSG is integrated into the 19th ESC planning.
Predictive Readiness by the Army Reserve
Over the past two years, the USAR and U.S. Army Pacific (USARPAC) have embraced the tenants of predictive logistics and predictive readiness. Maj. Gen. Charles R. Hamilton and Lt. Col. Edward Woo addressed the model of predictive logistics in a recent logistics article titled “The Road to Predictive Logistics,” where they state: “Under a future complex battlefield in a large-scale combat operation (LSCO), questions arise to optimize readiness. What can we do now to prepare the LSCO battlefield for tomorrow? How do we accomplish this with the strategic support area on the other side of the world in the Indo-Pacific (INDOPACOM)?” The above question has been answered by USARPAC forces across the Pacific, as well as the integrated Team-19 in Korea. However, there is much work to be done. The planning, mission analysis, and combined training exercises have been laying the foundation in order to help answer the question of how to prepare for LSCO on the battlefields of tomorrow and across the vast distances presented in the Indo-Pacific. Keeping in mind, this is achieved, in part, by the sheer desire and commitment of Reserve Component Soldiers, families, and U.S. Army Reserve committed resources.
Ready at a Moment's Notice
Since 2013, the 658th RSG has worked closely with the 196th Infantry Brigade and USARPAC Mobilization Office to streamline its mobilization timeline. These efforts have resulted in the 658th RSG being a more responsive and ready unit on the Korean Peninsula in support of the Total Force. Throughout the year, 196th Infantry Brigade personnel conduct mobilization training at 658th RSG battle assemblies and hosts a bi-annual mobilization exercise in order to ensure 658th RSG personnel are “validated.” Although the 658th RSG trains as it fights, and is a valued member of Team 19, a great deal still needs to be done to ensure the continued growth of the Total Force on the Korean Peninsula. In the November 2016 Army Sustainment Magazine article titled “Total Force Integration Requires Integrated Training, Lt. Gen. Darrell K. Williams wrote, "Future successful unified land operations will depend directly on the Army's ability to leverage readiness potential from all components. To maximize these collective capabilities, training integration must significantly improve.” Today, Army Reserve RSG's are supporting the Total Army and the Joint Force globally in order to ensure success on the battlefield during the earliest phases of conflict. As a deployable headquarters that manage base camps or base clusters, the RSG relieves the burden of base camp management and operations from the combatant commander, enabling commanders to focus on their primary mission. Both scalable and tailorable based on mission conditions, the RSG is commanded by a colonel and consists of an organic administrative and support headquarters with subordinate elements augmenting the RSG based on its specific mission. The 510th RSG's activation in Germany in support of United States Army Europe (USAEUR) earlier this year underscored the continued relevance and growing need for RSGs. Globally, RSGs are making a difference by providing base camp management expertise to combatant commanders, both in Europe, and on the Korean Peninsula.
658th RSG rounds out 19th ESC
Activated in 2011 at U.S. Army Garrison Yongsan in Seoul, South Korea, the 658th RSG has evolved from exercise and augmentation support in its early years to working advanced wartime mission analysis with the Eighth United States Army tables of distribution and allowances and the 19th ESC. As the only Army unit configured specifically to manage large base camps, the 658th RSG and 8th Army worked to identify capability gaps that the 658th RSG could best address on the Korean Peninsula in support of 8th Army. From 2013-2014, mission analysis stakeholders expanded to include 8th Army, 19th ESC, Installation Management Command-Pacific Forward, the 75th Training Command (USAR), 196th Infantry Brigade, USARPAC Mobilization Office and base camp experts from the Mission Command Center of Excellence. Headquartered in Daegu, South Korea, the 19th ESC is the only theater-committed, forward-deployed ESC in the United States Army. Since 2014, the 658th RSG and the 19th ESC have steadily worked to improve interoperability, both for daily operations, and in support of theater exercises. This is reflected in the 658th RSG's weekly briefing requirement during the 19th ESC's Commanders Update Brief and regular participation in 19th ESC G35 Operational Planning Group initiatives and site visits. Above all else, the 658th RSG trains as a unit against its designated wartime mission during major theater exercises. While the 658th RSG has been a part of the Ulchi Freedom Guardian and Key Resolve exercises in the past, it wasn't until this year that the 658h RSG had the opportunity to participate in integrated real-world mission. The unit proudly exclaimed Team-19 in 19!" as was the command's motto for the year. It also integrated for the first time, 19th ESC Warfighter Exercise. And, during the Korea Warfighter 19-2 Exercise, the 658th RSG exercised scenarios as a major subordinate command of the 19th ESC.
Further Integration into the Combined Fight
One of the most important training elements during WFX 20-1 was the opportunity to improve upon our interoperability with Republic of Korea Army (ROKA) counterparts at the 2nd Operational Command (2OC). The 2OC has operational command over all South Korean Army Reserve units, the Homeland Reserve Force, logistics, and training bases located in the six southernmost provinces, and also serves as the combined rear area coordinator. The 19th ESC works in lockstep with its Korean counterparts to execute sustainment operations in support of U.S. Forces Korea and the Eighth Army. The 658th RSG has pivoted off this pre-existing relationship between the 19th ESC and 2OC to foster its own relationships with mission relevant Korean Alliance Partners. In addition, unique to the 658th RSG among USAR units is its allocation of Korean Augmentation to the United States Army (KATUSA) Soldiers. KATUSA is a branch of the Republic of Korea Army that consists of Korean drafted personnel who are assigned to 8th Army units in accordance with their military occupational specialty. Yearly, the RSG is assigned KATUSA Soldiers and currently has three KATUSA Soldiers working full time at its headquarters at USAG Humphreys, South Korea. This augmentation provided by the Korean military has not only served as a force multiplier for the 658th RSG's limited full time staff of AGRs but enhanced the ability of the 658th RSG to communicate with our ROKA counterparts at 20C, both during major theater training events and for daily coordination. The personnel makeup of the 658th RSG also makes it uniquely suited to be of added value to the combined fight on the Korean Peninsula. Throughout the ranks of the 658th RSG are over two dozen US Army Reservist officers and Non-Commissioned Officers (NCOs) who are not only proficient in speaking Korean but have over a decade of experience working and living in the country they may one day be called upon to defend.
Reserve Component units such as the 658th RSG strive to integrate into the Total Force. This case study supports both effort and intent that integration is happening and can be predictive for both readiness and training strategies. Yet take heed to the truth that it is a well-vested accomplishment that requires highly engaged leadership, appropriated resources, and a focused unity of effort by both parties. In turn, this allows for enhanced moments of truly integrated combined arms doctrine training and understandings. By doing this we have closed the gap on preparedness for contingencies and realizing LSCO readiness goals. In turn, this sets the conditions for theater commanders to grow in confidence on a total force combined in effort to meet the full spectrum of threats – from low-scale natural disasters to worldwide pandemics and large-scale combat operations. The 19th ESC and the 658th RSG stand together as a total force, ready in the speed of trust to execute responsive logistical efforts for the theater commander in Korea.
Col. John Stibbard currently serves as the brigade commander of the 658th Regional Support Command, stationed in Camp Humphreys, Republic of Korea. He also holds Title 10 responsibility for U.S. Army Reserve logistical forces across the Pacific. Stibbard's military education includes: Infantry Officer Basic Course, Infantry Captains’ Career Course, Command and Staff Service School, Theater Sustainment Planners Course, Command and General Staff Officer Course, and the U.S. Army War College. In addition, he holds a Bachelor of Art in Mathematics, a Professional Degree in Education, a Master in Strategic Studies, and is completing a Master in Business Administration.
Maj. Brendan James Balestrieri is the brigade S3 for the 658th Regional Support Group. He holds a Bachelor of Art in English from The Citadel, a Master of Art from Johns Hopkins University and a Master of Art from Korea University Graduate School of International Studies. He is currently a doctoral candidate at Korea University studying international relations with a focus on alliance theory.
This article was published in the January-March 2021 issue of Army Sustainment.
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