FORT KNOX, Ky. –
Every month, newly selected brigade and battalion commanders and command sergeants major from the Army Reserve travel to Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, for a two-day class.
A precursor to the Battalion and Brigade Pre-Command Course taught by the Combined Arms Center’s Center for Command Preparation, the class focuses on Reserve specific issues new leaders could face.
“The Reserve component has unique challenges that the active component does not have to deal with," said Maj. Tyler Waterhouse, director of the BBPCC, "which require additional effort on the part of the command team."
Like the Army National Guard, most Reserve Soldiers train part-time while also maintaining a civilian career.
This often makes responding to common Soldier issues such as medical readiness, career management, legal matters and other personnel needs difficult for command teams.
But at the Reserve-centric class, command teams are given the tools they'll need to succeed in those areas, and more, by discussing best practices from across the component.
It's a significant opportunity, Waterhouse said. “This is the time where Reserve command teams can get answers to questions from the [U.S. Army Reserve Command] staff about Reserve specific leadership challenges.”
And according to Waterhouse, one of the biggest challenges Reserve command teams ask the most questions about is how to meet the combat readiness requirements of the active component.
Addressing this specific issue, Waterhouse and his staff explain that establishing partnerships and integrating with the active component throughout the training cycle should be a top priority.
Command Sgt. Maj. Royce Manis, command sergeant major of First Army Division East, attended one of the most recent classes to discuss how First Army can help.
“The end state – readiness in support of the Total Force Policy – is the same, but the issue is how we get there," Manis said.
First Army is designated as the U.S. Army Forces Command's coordinating authority endorsing the Army’s Total Force Policy.
As such, the time with Manis was viewed as a unique opportunity for leaders to understand how important it is to work together in support of that policy.
For Manis, it begins with a simple conversation.
“There needs to be more communication between Reserve component and active component leaders in order to understand the limitations and capabilities of one another,” said Manis.
"I've observed our Reserve partners training at the National Training Center, or at exercises like the Combat Support Training Exercise," he said, "and have seen the best practices these future command teams could use to be successful in training their organizations."
Manis said to help foster those conversations about capabilities and combat training readiness, he would like to see brigade leaders from across First Army attending the Army Reserve class.
“It’s an opportunity to hear ... the challenges these new Army Reserve command teams could face and then listen to them openly discuss it,” Manis said.
“Any chance we get to interact with our Army Reserve partners, exchange ideas or listen to problems and build those lasting partnerships is very helpful," he added.
Manis said for him, attending the course was an eye opener.
“It let me see the challenges of a Reserve brigade or battalion command team through their eyes," he said. "That’s truly helpful for us active guys so we can better understand the challenges of our Reserve component partners.”
It’s a better understanding that could ultimately lead to a more ready force, he said
At the conclusion of the two-day class, Reserve commanders and command sergeants major join their active component and Army National Guard counterparts for the main portion of the two-week BBPCC.
Once command teams complete the course, the command sergeants major remain at Fort Leavenworth for a week-long Command Sergeant Major Developmental Program.