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NEWS | May 5, 2020

81st Readiness Division leverages technology to get troops out the door more efficiently

By Michael Mascari 81st Readiness Division

Readiness doesn’t take a day off.

Despite travel restrictions, military technicians with the 81st Readiness Division (RD) ensured Reserve Soldiers were ready to respond in a moment’s notice. Reserve Personnel Action Centers (RPACs) in Puerto Rico and Georgia processed several Soldiers through both virtual and face-to-face Level-1 Soldier Readiness Program (SRP) events in order to prepare them to deploy for COVID-19 operations.

“We are using technology to our advantage,” said Jose Monroig, RPAC 13 (Aguadilla, Puerto Rico) supervisor. “This process has the potential to save time, money and valuable resources that are sometimes in short supply but high demand.”

Monroig and his team developed an electronic form that expedites the process and lessens the chance of errors. He said the Soldiers can fill out the packet and his RPAC can process them as they are received. He believes each Soldier can complete their part within an hour, as opposed to going from station to station.

The expedited process was put into action recently as the RPAC helped the Mortuary Affairs Unit validate in anticipation of a mobilization for COVID-19 response.

“They are ready to go out the door right away if called up,” Monroig said. “If not, we were able to validate them for this portion in case they get the call.”

RPAC 077, in Decatur, Georgia, responded quickly when the 368th Forward Engineer Support Team-Main, (FEST-M), pressed into action. The FEST-M provides technical expertise to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) for Alternate Care Facility (ACF) construction in support of COVID-19 pandemic response operations.

They were able to review and annotate the Soldiers’ records that were organic to the unit. They still needed to see the cross-leveled Soldiers face-to-face, but according RPAC Supervisor Gladys Daniels, the Virtual SRP process made that portion better for all. She said the staff scheduled time slots for them, allowing the Soldiers and Civilians to maintain proper social distancing and greater efficiency.

“From our perspective, the virtual SRP was a huge success,” said Daniels. “We were able to get the Soldiers processed and ready in half the time it normally takes for an in-house SRP.”

The 368th FEST-M Operations Officer, Maj. Frank Lawson, said the concept of a virtual SRP appears to be a great tool for contingency operations.

“Units normally have a bit more time to prepare,” said Lawson. “This particular mission was unique. Having the option to do virtual was vital to our mission. Knowing personnel were available to assist to get us out the door without having to send the entire unit to a Reserve Center allowed us to focus on the other moving pieces.”