By Col. John N. Stibbard Jr. and Maj. Brendan J. Balestrieri
| 9th Mission Support Command | Feb. 24, 2020
658th Regional Support Group Soldier prepares for weapons qualification during their Mobilization Exercise. (Photo by Maj. Melodie Tafao)
Soldiers assigned to the 658th Regional Support Group conduct a test donning a protective mask during their Mobilization Exercise. (Photo by Maj. Melodie Tafao)
Soldiers with the 658th Regional Support Group build a sand table during their Mobilization Exercise as 196th Infantry Brigade observer, coach/trainers observe. (Photo by Maj. Melodie Tafao)
The capability of U.S. Army Reserve forces to rapidly mobilize has been a point of strategic discontent. However, that paradigm shift and capability is now a reality with a focused effort in the Pacific theater of operations.
In the Pacific, and soon all theaters if scaled throughout the U.S. Army Reserve as an accepted institutional model, can posture specific designated units to rapidly mobilize within days as a unit and find the balance to exercise collective training prior to deployment.
The whole premise is to shorten the time at the mobilization station by completing post-mobilization requirements. This would expedite the unit level training and validation to deploy to a theater. This is more relative for units or individuals that require minimal collective training to proceed to support a contingency operation. An example is individual augmentation personnel, but also low-density units that have a specific mission that is not complex.
The pilot initiative by 9th Mission Support Command demonstrates the feasibility of forward-in-place mobilizations for units as an exception to established mobilization platform locations. This exercise, designated as the Rapid Mobilization Exercise, was overseen by the 196th Training Brigade (the First Army equivalent in the Pacific), and conducted by two units on the Korean Peninsula, the 658th Regional Support Group and the U.S. Army Pacific-Support Unit Detachment Korea.
A first of its kind in the U.S. Army Reserve, the two units participated in the RMX in March 2019 in conducting all theater post-mobilization training requirements during seven extensive day performing requirements from mandatory briefings, Soldier Readiness Preparation level two, individual weapons qualification and Army Warrior Training.
All said, the unit and its Soldiers are evaluated and provided a proper Eighth Army and ASCC-level validation that is filed and expires after one year. This translates to a successful completion of mandated post-mobilization requirements and allows those individuals to process through that first week of post-mobilization to conduct further collective training or proceed to deploy in accordance to the theater commands directions.
The caveat to the success of the RMX is the additional requirements conducted throughout the training year during two separate battle training assemblies, which include SRP level one and crew serve weapons qualification during what is known today at a training event called Pacific Steel (Cold Steel). The result of this pilot produced a validation readiness rate viable for deployment upon orders published.
As of this article, the unit maintains its deployment validation by the theater Army senior leadership in South Korea without additional theater mandated training requirements. To emphasize the success of this model, these units are ready to consolidate for deployment within minimal time, potentially 48 hours.
This intriguing opportunity for U.S. theater commanders deserves further consideration across the U.S. Army Reserve. There is a feasible proposal that this RMX model can be institutionalized and nested into the first six days of the Combat Support Training Exercise (CSTX) model.
As the 9th MSC proceeds with directing this training in command training guidance, RMX is expanding to other designated Ready Force X units within the Pacific. This may be the case for the Pacific as the operational environment may necessitate its requirement, but this is not to say this model could easily be institutionalized in Europe, central, and Mideast theaters.
The feasibility of RMX challenges the status quo as an innovative solution to demands of meeting the total force, theater need. This is, of course, all while understanding the Soldiers in the U.S. Army Reserve continue to demonstrate their service and commitment to meeting this obligation.
Also, the increased expectation on U.S. Army forces to meet readiness levels necessitates a total force paradigm shift and places pressure on existing congressional and operational framework to mobilize and deploy U.S. Army Reserve forces. As increased operational requirements emerge from combatant commanders, the posturing of U.S. Army Reserve forces to rapidly mobilize becomes a standard expectation. In South Korea, the assigned units are well within the scope of meeting the Eighth Army motto, “Fight Tonight!”
This is a huge win for the U.S. Army Reserve to demonstrate the vision and intent by the commander of the U.S. Army Reserve for all designated RFX units. As the threat to national interest increase, whether in the Pacific, Europe or Mideast, the U.S. Army Reserve must adapt its capability to rapidly mobilize its forces.
The next pilot to test in the Pacific is the rapid deployment of a unit’s equipment and personnel within the theater of operations.