ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ill. –
“The goal for this brigade (training) is to make sure we are aligned with First Army for the next year in our operation and support of the Army at large, especially the Army Reserve,” said Brig. Gen. Richard W. Corner II, Commanding General, 85th United States Army Reserve Support Command. “We want to make sure brigade command teams understand and are able to employ the battalions that are in direct support for the upcoming fiscal year.”
The 85th USARSC conducted their annual Brigade Command Teams Training, 15-16 October 2022, to prepare incoming First Army brigade commanders as they assume command of their active component and reserve component battalions.
The 85th USARSC’s formation is made up of more than 3,500 Soldiers, spread across 45 battalions in 25 states. These Soldiers provide observer/coach trainer direct support that make up half of First Army’s formation to ready mobilizing and deploying forces.
Event attendees included brigade and division command teams from First Army’s Divisions East and West, Chiefs of Staff and G-3 staffs. “To enable reserve component readiness and improve the integration of reserve component battalions and brigade support elements into First Army’s multi-component brigades,” according to the operation order. The training provided a collaborative environment to discuss how Army Reserve elements operate and how they receive support.
“My goal is to get a better understanding of our organizations and how we collectively work together as commanders within the (training) and logistic support battalions and the 85th (USARSC) reserve component,” said Col. Troy Mills, Commander, 157th Infantry Brigade.
Topics of discussion during the training included appropriate reporting procedures for the Commander’s Critical Information Requirements, property book actions, Government Purchase Card transactions and installation and reserve center issues. Some Personnel topics discussed were reserve personnel actions, the Integrated Personnel and Pay System—Army and reserve casualty benefits.
How the 85th USARSC’s capabilities aided commanders in active duty and reserve integration was an important takeaway for some of the leaders.
“The training gave a really good overview of the 85th USARSC’s capabilities in terms of the staff and the commanding general’s directives,” said Col. Karen A. Baker, Commander Fourth Cavalry Multifunctional Training Brigade. “That will help us with our reserve battalions as we integrate moving forward for fiscal year 2023 and beyond.”
For some brigade commanders, this was a second return to the weekend event to build on their past training event.
“This is my second time I’ve been to the 85th USARSC’s brigade command team training, and the training just continues to solidify the necessity for active and reserve component integration, specifically within First Army,” said Col. Marcus Wright, Commander, 188th Infantry Brigade. “It provides additional combat power that if you don’t do it well, you’ll leave it on the bench.”
The training also gave leaders assistance in how to successfully accomplish their missions.
“It will help me better integrate our (training) and logistic Support Battalions into the brigade so that we can execute our war time mission,” said Command Sgt. Maj. Aaron Thompson, Command Sergeant Major, 181st Multifunctional Training Brigade.
Differences in reserve and active-duty systems were acknowledged during training sessions as well.
“There were a lot of complexities when it came to reserve component Troop Program Unit Soldiers compared to active component Soldiers,” said Command Sgt. Major Dina A. Pang, Command Sergeant Major, 120th Infantry Brigade. “A lot of the systems are drastically different, so something that wouldn’t be a challenge on the active component side would be a huge challenge on the reserve component side.”
The training event also helped the 85th USARSC’s command team gain a better understanding of concerns that affected brigade commanders who led reserve battalions.
“These leader engagements assist the command team in understanding the friction points brigade commanders are experiencing as they work to plan and execute their yearly directed missions with partnered National Guard and reserve units,” said Col. Donald Anderson, Chief of Staff, 85th USARSC. “Awareness of these friction points allows the 85th USARSC command team to engage available reserve assets in order to assist the brigades in overcoming these potential challenges.”
Overall, the training was viewed as an asset to unit readiness across the total Army.
“This (training) would help our unit’s readiness if we went back, did a little reflection and changed our processes to build in lead times to become compliant on readiness rather than saying, ‘make things happen,’” said Pang. “The goals are attainable if you fix the process.”