FORT HOOD, Texas –
Creative talent management efforts led an Army Reserve training support battalion from Fort Meade, Maryland, to deliver impactful and long-lasting improvements to the Demobilization Tactical Operations Center (DTOC) processes.
The 3-312th Training Support Battalion's primary mission was to support demobilizing National Guard and Reserve units and Soldiers. The 3-312th Training Support Battalion (TSBN) is no stranger to the First Army organization. The 3-312th TSBN is a subordinate Army Reserve unit under the 174th Infantry Brigade, First Army Division East. However, over the last year, the 3-312th TSBN has been busy running the DTOC operation in support of the 120th Infantry Brigade, a subordinate training brigade of First Army Division West. While mobilized here, this talented crew used available resources and mission tools to get creative and continue improving the demobilization process at North Fort Hood.
"The most important part of this mission has been welcoming Soldiers home and helping them transition back to their families," said Lt. Col. Benjamin Kenion, battalion commander, 3-312th.
"I would say it's been busy and rewarding," said Maj. John Certain, who filled the role as the DTOC demobilizations chief.
Five months into the mobilization, the DTOC team received the largest unit processed up until that point, The 28th Expeditionary Combat Aviation Brigade (ECAB), a National Guard command out of Pennsylvania.
"We're at the airport to receive one of the larger units the team has received and processed since taking over operations back in December," explained Certain during the team's receiving mission of the ECAB back in May.
The 28th ECAB had close to 1200 Soldiers on their redeployment from Kuwait, according to logistics information provided by the DTOC team.
To receive a unit this large, or any unit to be exact, requires a detailed level of planning the DTOC team carries out to provide quality professional services for returning Soldiers.
About four months from a unit redeploying, conference calls are planned to begin mapping out specific stages tailored to each unit during redeployment and discuss management of the overall process during demobilization, Certain noted.
Within the effort needed to provide quality services in this process, there are moments that make the effort worth it.
"I like working the return flight missions and seeing the Soldiers de-plane," said Staff Sgt. Marchial Barnes, who was a validations team lead with the DTOC.
"There is a joy in seeing Soldiers starting the process of going home." He said.
"You get a bit of a rush working in the organized chaos of it all, but seeing our planning come together for returning service members is a good feeling."
Barnes summarized some changes the team worked on collectively to continue building improvements to the mission.
"Our team has worked to continue development of the arrival process since taking over the mission," he said.
"We put focus into improving the preparation and planning time which in turn allowed us to build and leverage resources with partners in our logistics and planning network."
In the lane of collaborative tools, Barnes spoke on the team's inclusion of a collaboration portal to allow improved efficiency of submitting mission and personnel movement data to the appropriate higher offices. Taking this approach also helped with capturing improved snapshots in time of movement data.
"The number of people on our team allowed us to improve and streamline the mission, given we also had to include COVID-19 operations," said Staff Sgt. Mark Parks. Parks worked as the operations lead assigned to the Individual Operations Team of the DTOC.
The Individual Operations Team is a section of the DTOC with a 24-hr mission responsible for receiving and processing groups of five or fewer Soldiers through their demobilization process. They are responsible for their transportation, housing, COVID-19 testing, and other processes for these individual demobilizing Soldiers, explained Maj. Kenny Goris, the Individual Operations Team officer.
The team wrote and included updates to policies and guidance specific to the operation, Parks also shared.
The importance of partnership building with outside entities involved in the process was also emphasized by Parks and Goris. They discussed how the partnerships with outside entities to include Hood Mobilization Brigade helped with process improvements.
"We've even received awards from some of the units that have come through because of the implemented changes," Goris added.
"I think we've become a lot more knowledgeable by working on process improvements, thereby helping us become a more solid team," said Goris, referring to working together cohesively.
Sgt. 1st Class Joshua Failor, the operations team lead for the DTOC, said he remembers what it's like getting ready for redeployment and hoping to have all necessary information available.
"This mission allowed our entire DTOC team to provide valuable information to the redeploying units," he said.
"We worked hard to improve the DEMOB process and make it a faster and smoother transition throughout and making the units more prepared upon their arrival to expedite their time here," he added.
"Ultimately, our goal was working to get the redeploying National Guard and Reserve Soldiers home to their families as quickly as possible."
As the 3-312th has completed their one-year assignment, the 2nd Battalion, 338th Regiment (CS/CSS), Training Support Battalion, will officially assume responsibility for the upcoming mission cycle late November. The 2-338th will continue the mission of providing creative talent as Army Reserve Soldiers to support the 120th Infantry Brigade mobilization efforts for National Guard and Reserve components.