FORT JACKSON, S.C. -- An old saying goes, "If one is good, two (or more) is better." It certainly seemed that way at the 81st Regional Support Command as there were two important conferences being held here simultaneously. One was a medical readiness conference and the other a Human Resources leader summit held October 26-28. Approximately 200 senior leaders from across the active Army, Army Reserve and National Guard came together to focus on and discuss such issues as manning and non-deployability to doctrine of war and peacetime garrison operations.
"We wanted to bring together the senior leaders of the HR community," explained Col. Robert Manning, commandant of Fort Jackson's Adjutant General School and Chief of the AG Corps. "There are strategic, operation and tactical leaders here to discuss the challenges of meeting requirements with the available force." Through briefings and panel discussions senior leaders raised their issues, shared ideas and recommendations. The outcomes of the different discussions will be reported to the Army G-1.
Manning also spoke of a new management system on the horizon that will put all Soldiers, regardless of their component into the same database for all actions regarding any particular troop. It is called the Integrated Personal Pay System -- Army (IPPS-A). Currently a reporting tool IPPS-A will eventually become the tool to track all Soldiers' data to begin in 2013. "The intent is to get the leadership to understand the future," said Col. John Aarsen, director of the 310th Human Resources Sustainment Center based at Fort Jackson. "There will be one system so you won't have the turbulence going from AC to RC." Referring to the difficulty of a Soldier transferring between the active component to either Guard or Reserve and vice versa he added, "The intent is balance the force and put the Soldier where they need to be."
Once IPPS-A is fully functional there should be a continuum of service for Soldiers regardless of the component in which they serve regardless of transferring from one to the other. It should also make it easier for the HR professionals to assist units that are either over or under strength. "While some Reserve challenges are unique," Aarsen said, "something learned in a conference like this is that Army Reserve problems are Army problems." Aarsen mentioned that the issues need to be approached holistically and that understanding the vision of the future will help leaders take the opportunities when they arrive to be more creative in dealing with manning and non-deployability issues, which is meant to be soldier-focused, a theme also brought out in the medical readiness conference.
"It's about the Soldier," said Aarsen. "It's not an aircraft or a ship, it's a person."