By Maj. Gen. Peter A. Bosse & Maj. Gen. Kenneth D. Jones
| 335th Signal Command (Theater) & 81st Readiness Division | July 17, 2019
Senior U.S. Army Reserve leaders from across the country met to discuss ways to collaborate to enhance readiness. The meeting known as an Effects Coordination Board is an effort to collaborate at the general officer level to meet readiness objectives in the southeast region. The board allows Training Divisions, Readiness Divisions, and the Geographic and Functional Commands to come together to look at common training and admin tasks that can be centralized to subject matter experts to increase training time and efficiency. (Photo by Sgt. 1st. Class Jeffrey Mullett)
Maj. Gen. Kenneth D. Jones, commanding general, 81st Readiness Division, addresses a group of mobilizing or recently deployed U.S. Army Reserve Soldiers and their Families at a Yellow Ribbon Program event, June 14-16, 2019 near Orlando, Fla. Hosted by the 81st Readiness Division, the Yellow Ribbon Program provides Soldiers and Families classes, workshops, panels and presentations that highlight the numerous organizations and programs provided to support Soldiers and their Families throughout the deployment process and return to civilian life. (U.S. Army Photo by Capt. Daniel Brown) (Photo by Capt. Daniel Brown)
U.S. Army Reserve Sgt. Matthew Buzas, a Satellite Communication Systems Operator Maintainer with Bravo Company, 319th Expeditionary Signal Battalion, fires an M9 pistol during the 335th Signal Command (Theater) Best Warrior Competition 2019 at Fort Gordon, Georgia, April 18, 2019. The competition promotes esprit de corps and challenges noncommissioned officers and Soldiers who demonstrate commitment to the Army Values, embody the warrior ethos, and represent the best Soldiers in America’s Army Reserve. The winning noncommissioned officer and junior enlisted Soldier will move on to compete in the U.S. Army Reserve Command competition in July. (U.S. Army Reserve photo by Staff Sgt. Leron Richards) (Photo by Staff Sgt. Leron Richards)
(Left to Right) U.S. Army Maj. Gen. Stephen Hager, deputy commander operations, U.S. Cyber Command, National Mission Force, Maj. Gen. Peter A. Bosse, commanding general, 335th Signal Command (Theater), Col. Robert S. Powell, Jr., commander Army Reserve Cyber Operations Group (ARCOG), 33th SC(T), and Command Sgt. Maj. Timothy Eddy, ARCOG senior enlisted adviser, observe teams giving an analysis brief on the last day of Cyber X-Games 2019, June 16 at Moffett Field, California. The annual cyber training event sponsored by the ARCOG was hosted this year by the 63rd Readiness Division, June 7-16. This year's competition exercise focused on the protection of Department of Defense assets through joint force collaboration and welcomed multinational partners to observe how the U.S. Army Reserve Cyber Force plans and trains. (U.S. Army Reserve photo by Sgt. Erick Yates) (Photo by Sgt. Erick Yates)
U.S. Army Reserve Staff Sgt. Jamil Jadallah, right, a parachute rigger with the 4th Joint Communications Squadron, completes a testing form for Drill Sgt. Ervin Brewster of the 3rd Battalion, 323rd Regiment during the 335th Signal Command (Theater) Best Warrior Competition 2019 at Fort Gordon, Georgia, April 17, 2019. The competition promotes esprit de corps and challenges noncommissioned officers and Soldiers who demonstrate commitment to the Army Values, embody the warrior ethos, and represent the best Soldiers in America’s Army Reserve. The winning noncommissioned officer and junior enlisted Soldier will move on to compete in the U.S. Army Reserve Command competition in July. (U.S. Army Reserve photo by Staff Sgt. Leron Richards) (Photo by Staff Sgt. Leron Richards)
One of the great things about Army installations is the centralized support they provide to tenant units, thereby allowing them to build readiness through consolidated resources.
As brigade commanders on active duty installations we were both impressed with the mission support element, and the directorates on base, which enabled our commands to conduct individual readiness tasks efficiently. Installation support staff were able to complete health assessments, weapons qualification and increase Soldier readiness.
Installation support staff are experts at executing administration actions across time, task, and cost because these were routine tasks for them. In comparison, these were not everyday tasks for my brigade staff, who accomplished the same requirements at a higher cost in terms of time, resources and money.
The Army’s new facility readiness drivers link our facilities to warfighting readiness and lethality. One big difference between the Army Reserve and the active component is a lack of centralized installation support. The Army Reserve benefits from community-based stationing, which allows our military to embed with the people they serve, but it lacks most of the support that centralized basing provides.
ADDRESSING THE DICHOTOMY: THE CREATION OF READINESS DIVISIONS
One effort to address this dichotomy between the U.S. Army and Army Reserve is the latter’s creation of Readiness Divisions (RD) to provide centralized support in specific activities.
One successful example is the centralized planning and execution of the Yellow Ribbon Readiness Program events for all deploying and returning reserve component units. In the past, Functional Commands (FC) managed these events and struggled to manage the process for their infrequently deploying units. By centralizing this function at the Readiness Divisions by region, the Army Reserve was able to gain cost efficiencies, effectively manage attendance, and efficiently execute events planned by subject matter experts in the same area as the target audience.
The same concept used for the Yellow Ribbon Program of taking relatively infrequent tasks, centralizing them to gain better execution, participation and savings, could be applied to additional reserve component readiness tasks, thus further leveraging the RDs.
However, the regional division concept is underutilized in supporting readiness activities that could be centralized to create efficiency for the Army Reserve to accomplish readiness tasks. Centralizing more functions to the Readiness Divisions leverages a core competency developed over the last decade by the RDs as regional program managers; akin to the support role of active component installations.
One recommendation is coordinating Mass Medical Events and Soldier Readiness Process Level 2 events at the regional level, led by the RD. Currently, many health readiness events are planned and executed by individual units. By regionally centralizing health readiness events, groups could focus on getting Soldiers to activities that increase their readiness, instead of planning, resourcing and executing those events at their level with their non-Subject Matter Expertise (SME) staff members.
The Readiness Divisions are experts on this and are already conducting this task to some degree in their respective regions. Assigning these functions to the RD would free up units’ time to focus on training tasks. Implementing a tool like ‘e-invite’ through email to available units or participants is just one method available to notify and register Soldiers for events.
FUTURE TASKS THAT CAN BE CENTRALIZED
Another centralized task could be coordination of ranges for individual and crew-served weapons qualification tasks. Currently, weapons qualification is entirely decentralized; planned, coordinated, resourced and executed at the unit level. While running a weapons range can be a significant training opportunity for Soldiers within units, the planning and coordination of installation resources, such as ranges and ammunition, is completed by a handful of unit support staff, who have many unit responsibilities and transfer over time.
What if the RDs planned and resourced monthly weapons qualification at regionally selected sites, coordinated ranges and ammunition draws, and collaborated with units on leading and executing the ranges?
Centralizing coordination for installation resources, such as ranges and ammunition, would further allow units to focus on getting Soldiers to the events rather than organizing an event they seldom specialize in doing. It would also enable ongoing relationships with installations where training occurs. Most regions have a limited number of locations where weapons qualification can occur, especially crew serve weapons and gunnery crew qualification.
The Regional Divisions could deconflict schedules, resources, and be the single point of contact for units to the installation, and the installation to the Army Reserve unit for coordinating the constrained availability of specialized ranges.
THE ACFT PROVIDES AN OPPORTUNITY
The new Army Combat Fitness Test (ACFT) provides an opportunity for the Army Reserve to work together at the unit level to accomplish readiness tasks. The regional divisions manage the ACFT equipment as installation property, and center commanders across the region will coordinate with units within their respective microinstallations to accomplish the Army Combat Fitness Test with the resources on hand.
The Army Combat Fitness Test provides the reserve component an opportunity to collaborate at both the unit and command level on the same task. It is is an opportunity for the Army Reserve to look at readiness both vertically and horizontally. The mission command structure reports to the FC chain of command and the success of the ACFT in terms of Pass and Fail as it pertains to readiness, from a vertical perspective.
The regional divisions and center commanders see the success of the ACFT in terms of equipment, test site locations, and unit collaboration across units at their microinstallation, from a horizontal perspective. Both vertical and horizontal aspects lend to increasing readiness at the unit level. There is a growing need for increased collaboration between Functional Commands and Readiness Divisions. Centralizing more tasks to the RDs would further increase the need to collaborate on readiness.
With the need for collaboration in mind, another recommendation is conducting quarterly meetings between Readiness Divisions and Functional Commands to collaborate to on centralized readiness objectives within the region.
LEADING THE WAY IN COMMAND COLLABORATION
As a way ahead, the 81st Regional Division and 335th Signal Command (Theater) along with other regional divisions and functional commands have engaged in an Effects Coordination Board as an initial effort to begin collaboration at the general officer level for readiness objectives in the southeast region. The coordination board or similar forum presents a prime opportunity for all Commanders to participate in the change process of building readiness in America’s Army Reserve.
One task already centralized to the regional divisions that could benefit from the expansion is the appointment and training of center commanders. One recommendation is developing an Army Reserve requirement for unit commanders with the dual responsibility of unit and center command to attend the regional division-led center commander workshops. These workshops are designed to teach center commanders how to improve unit collaboration at the microinstallations.
Another recommendation is an Army Reserve command emphasis on the performance of dual commanders (unit and center command) in evaluation reports; as dual commanders seek to improve readiness vertically (within their command hierarchy), and horizontally (across units at their microinstallation). The functional command commanders with a command of a unit, and a center will have a more significant impact on Army Reserve readiness.
Further considerations for centralized tasks to the RDs could include maintenance training in G-Army software systems; and coordination of mobile marksmanship training systems which RDs could manage similar to the ACFT equipment and unit execution.
These recommendations do not suggest that commands can centralize all readiness building tasks to the regional divisions. Unit cohesion and collective effort arise from units training together. However, increasing the training time available to units save time by conducting centralized tasks that are coordinated and managed at the regional level by the divisions.
These recommendations do ring particularly true for the Army Reserve whose training days are limited to 39 days per year, consisting of 24 battle training assembly days and 15 annual training days. Consequently, senior Army Reserve officials should review the individual readiness tasks that can be shifted from local unit to centralized regional management model to increase overall readiness, deliver better outcomes and reduce costs; benefiting the Soldiers, America’s Army Reserve and the American taxpayer.
Maj. Gen. Peter A. Bosse is the commander of the 335th Signal Command (Theater) in East Point, Georgia.
Maj. Gen Kenneth D. Jones is the commander of the 81st Readiness Division at Fort Jackson, South Carolina.