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NEWS | May 12, 2020

311th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary) conducts its first Virtual Battle Assembly

By Capt. Fernando Ochoa 311th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary)

 The 311th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary) conducted its first Virtual Battle Assembly at the Capt. Nelson H. Holderman Hall U.S. Army Reserve Center, with the participation of 150 Soldiers from the unit, May 2-3, when the Soldiers connected remotely with their computers to participate in the two days of scheduled training.

Because of the impact of COVID-19, Lt. Gen. Charles D. Luckey, chief of Army Reserve and commanding general, U.S. Army Reserve Command, in light of the seriousness of the this dangerous virus, has ordered the U.S. Army Reserve to halt monthly in-person training to maintain the health and safety of the force, and conduct Virtual Battle Assemblies.

As a result, Capt. Jonathan Suchecki, 311th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary) HHC commander, and 1st Sgt. James Chavez, 311th ESC first sergeant, looked for new ways to maintain readiness and ensure Soldiers could receive their monthly military pay and benefits.

"Virtual Battle Assemblies are an opportunity for our Soldiers to knock out important online training modules, which will allow us more time for valuable in person training when we resume our normal battle assemblies,” said Suchecki. "Our goals from the HHC is to provide an opportunity for Soldiers to remain current on key online training and improve readiness metrics."

The 311th ESC received authorization to plan and test an online classroom format for the entire organization as a flexible and innovative way to sustain operations, and to ensure Soldiers could receive military pay and benefits during an especially challenging time.

In the U.S. Army Reserve, most Soldiers fall into the TPU category. These Soldiers are in the Troop Program Units program and they are required to attend a battle assembly two days a month and serve 14 days a year. They are the heart and soul of America's Army Reserve. And so, a battle assembly is normally a time when Army Reserve Soldiers physically meet and train with their colleagues on military installations or Army Reserve centers worldwide.

"Our planning took place in two phases. First, we identified the online courses available, and established the priorities in alignment with the command's areas of emphasis,” said Chavez. “Then, we reviewed key readiness metrics and worked with the staff section leaders on an improvement plan."

A virtual battle assembly offers a flexible way to virtually bring a large unit together across multiple locations and time zones to collaborate online. It also allows a U.S. Army Reserve unit to further refine its use of collaborative tools for command post operations.

VBAs have been put in place to ensure Soldiers have the maximum means to maintain individual Soldier readiness, build resiliency, and provide stability and security to our Soldiers and families.

Commanders can assign training that includes fitness, educational online courses, mandatory annual requirements actions, focused on meeting administrative/readiness, contributing toward individual or medical readiness.

A trained and ready Expeditionary Support Command composed of professional and resilient Soldiers and Civilians with skills and knowledge can execute forward spectrum operations warfighter requirements with the flexibility to adapt operations quickly to changing conditions.

The 311th ESC’s primary mission is to command the sustainment brigades that provide combat support and combat service support in the areas of supply, maintenance, transportation, field services and the functional brigades or battalions.