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NEWS | Sept. 25, 2020

Working together: Lessons from First Army large-scale mobilization operation forum

By Warren Marlow First Army

In the event of a large-scale mobilization operation against a peer adversary, reserve component Soldiers of both the U.S. Army Reserve and National Guard will be crucial to fighting and winning the conflict. The key to success in such an operation will be the smooth integration of all three components that comprise the Total Force – Active, Guard, and Reserve.

Furthering the integration of these components, First Army Commanding General, Lt. Gen. Thomas James Jr., joined Lt. Gen. Jody J. Daniels, chief of Army Reserve and commanding general, U.S. Army Reserve Command, and the U.S. Army Forces Command Deputy Commanding General, Lt. Gen. Leopoldo Quintas Jr., for a Large Scale Mobilization Operations, or LSMO, forum here from Sept. 16-18.

LSMO refers to preparing and validating large numbers of reserve component units for contingency operations through Mobilization Force Generating Installation, or MFGI, expansion, with the support of Army mobilization enterprise partners. Currently, First Army operates two “active” MFGI’s at Fort Hood, Texas and Fort Bliss, Texas. But First Army is prepared to expand those requirements to currently “inactive” MFGI’s in the event of a LSMO. The forum afforded attendees the chance to break down and analyze LSMO requirements and challenges.

Besides James, Daniels, and Quintas, other attendees engaged in robust discussion to tackle issues associated with the Army's ability to mobilize and deploy combat-ready Reserve Component forces.

The forum helped to ensure that enterprise partners maintain visibility on key issues regarding large-scale mobilization of Reserve Component forces, and that First Army and its RC partners get ahead of any challenges in the process.

“We enable our RC teammates to achieve Department of the Army-directed readiness levels to deliver trained and ready Reserve Component units to support combatant commanders,” James said. “We are cognizant that there is a chain of command in the Army Reserve and National Guard, but we are a resource to enable them to be successful.”

Daniels noted that the process is always an ongoing one.

“In order to get the readiness you need post-mobilization, you have to have the coordination pre-mobilization,” she said. “Collaboration and coordination has to happen early and often before, during, and after mobilization in order to get to the objective.”

Participants heard from First Army Chief of Operations, Bob Finnegan, who shared lessons learned from First Army's COVID-19 response and how those lessons can be applied to large scale mobilization.

“When COVID hit there was a stop-move that was put into place so we had units mobilized and often stayed at their home of record because we could not push them to the MFGI or from the MFGI to theatre without an exception to policy,” he said. “So we had our partnered brigades link in with those units that were mobilized at home station as a liaison, to ensure accountability, and to pass on any updated guidance that came out.”

Such as an approach could likewise prove beneficial in the event of a large-scale mobilization. Finnegan said the forum addressed those and other issues and provided a roadmap to success.

“It was a great discussion at the senior leader level that left us with a cohesive way forward to tackle any problems,” he said.

Attendees additionally gained a shared understanding of LSMO challenges across the mobilization enterprise and worked to create mitigation strategies to reduce friction points. The desired future state is for enterprise partners to mitigate those friction points, identify remaining gaps, and reduce risks to achieve strategic objectives for mobilizing and deploying combat-ready Reserve Component forces, so that they can win on a complex, multi-domain battlefield.

“We have to constantly keep our eye on the ball for the Army and for FORSCOM and our teammates in the Guard and Reserve,” James said. “We are fighting together to manage resources and aligning them appropriately to optimize large scale mobilization.”