By Sgt. Daniel Lucas, 203rd Public Affairs DetachmentFebruary 1, 2012
FORT DES MOINES, Iowa - The reserve component is continually transforming to meet the needs of each of the services. In an effort to keep Congress informed of the latest changes, leadership from the Army Reserve, Navy Reserve and Marine Corps Reserve units in Iowa joined together to host a Reserve Component Day for Iowa congressional officials on Jan. 23 at Fort Des Moines.
Representatives from the offices of Sen. Charles Grassley, Sen. Tom Harkin, Rep. Leonard Boswell, Rep. Tom Latham and Rep. Steve King attended the event, which was facilitated by Maj. Gen. Glenn Lesniak, commanding general, 88th Regional Support Command (RSC), located at Fort McCoy, Wis. The 88th RSC is responsible for Army Reserve facilities across a 19-state region, including Iowa.
"The messages coming out of our command are being heard on the hill," said Lesniak. "This is a chance to show off about what [the Army, Navy and Marines] do."
The day began at the 103rd Sustainment Command (Expeditionary), which hosted the Army Reserve portion of the event. Lesniak started the agenda with a general overview of the reserve component followed by a current state of the Army Reserve and a geographic overview of Army Reserve command structure. Brig. Gen. Mark Corson, commanding general, 103rd Sustainment Command (Expeditionary), followed Lesniak and spoke about the 103rd ESC's mission, recent deployment to Iraq, and the changes ahead for the command.
Leadership from the 300th Military Police Brigade, 402nd Engineer Company, 94th Division, and 4224th U.S. Army Hospital as well as the Employer Partnership of the Armed Forces, formerly the Army Reserve Employer Partnership Office, were on hand to help answer questions.
The event also provided an opportunity for attendees to experience a little of the Army Reserve as, in the true spirit of sustainment, a lunch was prepared by 103rd ESC food service specialists. The 4224th U.S. Army Hospital showcased the vehicles and equipment they use as part of their homeland disaster response mission as well as demonstrated several techniques used to treat patients by first responders.
"Every Reserve Soldier has a civilian career and background that allows him to bring certain higher level skill sets to his military career," said Corson. "[The Army Reserve] is trained, ready and equipped."
Attendees spent the afternoon in the historical Fort Des Moines building which houses the Navy Operational Support Center and Echo Company, 2nd Battalion, 24th Marine Regiment, for the Navy Reserve and Marine Corps Reserve presentations, respectively. The Navy Reserve continued the event with a tour of the shared facility, provided an introduction to nautical flags and a briefing on the capabilities of the Navy Reserve in Iowa.
Lt. Christopher Smith, commander, Navy Operational Support Center, quipped about the lack of large bodies of water in Iowa. "While we don't have boats, we have manpower. The Reserve is a force multiplier that takes the pressure off our active component."
The 24th Marine Regiment followed and provided an overview of their command structure and asked pointed questions about what local government expects out of Reserve forces in Iowa. "What do [Marine Reserves] have to offer," asked Col. Gary Johnston, commander, 24th Marine Regiment, U.S. Marine Corps Reserve. "Manpower and the readiness to help out. We don't have all the answers, that is why we have this venue to talk with everyone."
The day concluded with a demonstration by the Marine Corps on the type of equipment and firepower they use in combat. Each attendee was given an opportunity to personally fire an M-9 pistol, a M-16A2 rifle, and a M-249 Squad Automatic Weapon on a weapons simulation system. The simulator allows the Marines to maintain proficiency on their weapon systems.
Overall, the Reserve Component Day served not only as an opportunity to educate, but also build an enduring relationship and continue positive communication between the reserve component in Iowa and community officials. "No matter what happens, just know that we are here," said Lt. Col. Rosanna Dolphin, legislative liaison, 88th Regional Support Command. "And we can help."