FORT McPHERSON, Ga. (May 5, 2010) -- As operations in Iraq and Afghanistan continue, along with numerous requirements worldwide, the Army's largest command recently launched a Web-based tool to enhance the synchronization of Soldiers, equipment and resources with the requirements of combatant commanders.

Called the Army Force Generation, or ARFORGEN Synchronization Tool, and also known as AST, it provides the means to simulate discrete events to achieve a predictive view of the Army inventory moving through the ARFORGEN process over time.

"For the first time, the ARFORGEN Synchronization Tool will allow commanders, staff officers, DA civilians, and others who are involved in the business of generating forces to see the entire Army moving through its ARFORGEN progression of Reset, Train/Ready, and Deployment", said Col. Vincent J. Tedesco III, chief of Plans, FORSCOM.

Presently, the focus of AST development is on the Reset and Train/Ready periods. "You've got resources and requirements in time; it's aligning the two (that makes this work)," Tedesco said.

"It turns out that that's exactly the same task that we have in Reset and Train/Ready, where agencies and activities and commands throughout the Army have to figure out how to bring their resources to bear in time against a unit," he said.

"We went from a system where you only had to focus on a handful of units that were high readiness, and you could get away with not having a system like this," Tedesco said. "But when you have the inventory of the entire U.S. Army all moving, and everybody moves differently, and everybody has requirements for resourcing, it would be incredible in the 21st Century if we did not leverage the capabilities that we have in information management systems and computers and networks to ensure that we all have a common operating picture."

Beginning in fiscal year 2011, FORSCOM will exclusively use AST to execute the ARFORGEN process,Tedesco said.

"This will allow FORSCOM to place it on the Global Secret Internet or SIPR," he said, "and allow commands and people with a stake in the process around the globe to access AST and participate in this synchronization and all that goes on within it around the world, providing they have the right access privileges and ability to log on."

"We've gotten the software and our internal practices to the point that we are (now) able to move from manual procedures to a fully automated procedure," Tedesco said.

Last fall, AST was fielded within FORSCOM and operated only on the FORSCOM network. However, with the fielding of Version 4.5, the first version that runs entirely on the Web, AST is now available on the SIPR Army Knowledge Online network, and it's ready to be used worldwide by authorized military planners.

The AST is the next step in the ARFORGEN process, which by definition is "the structured progression of increased unit readiness over time, resulting in recurring periods of availability of trained, ready and cohesive units prepared for operational deployment in support of civil authorities and combatant commander requirements."

After 2006, ARFORGEN underwent a paradigm change. This change was due to "the realization that the Army's force integration model, in use since the Cold War, would not be adequate to sustain the long war we were rotating forces to," said Tedesco. "In the summer of 2003, we came to the realization that there was going to be an (Operation Iraqi Freedom) OIF II. In order to have an OIF II, we would have to make forces ready that otherwise weren't particularly ready."

Faced with the problem of how to sustain the large commitment of a rotational deployment of troops, the Army looked for a model to manage them. Army planners found one the Marine Corps had used for some time. The Navy and Air Force also had similar rotational models where their forces rotate through a cycle of readiness and deployment and then reset, which allows them to sustain long-term high levels of operational deployment.

Tedesco said the Army studied these models in 2004 and 2005. Then, in 2006, the secretary of the Army and the Army chief of staff approved and published an Army Campaign Plan annex that established Army Force Generation as the Army's new force generation paradigm based on progressive readiness and cyclical deployments of Army Forces from all three components (active, Reserve and National Guard).

The commander of FORSCOM was directed to develop an automation system to allow the Army to see its inventory of forces moving through that Force Generation paradigm.

"That's where we began the voyage of creating the ARFORGEN Synchronization Tool," Tedesco added.