FORT RILEY, Kan. –
Fort Riley recently hosted a Mobilization Exercise (MOBEX) Level II, part of First Army’s Operation Pershing Strike 2023. The exercise integrated the efforts of the Army’s active and reserve components. The Army National Guard, the U.S. Army Reserve, and active-duty Army partnered to provide force projection to a deployed environment.
In 2021, Fort Riley was designated a primary inactive Mobilization Force Generation Installation, or MFGI. The purpose of an MFGI is to facilitate large-scale mobilization operations to provide training support, sustainment, and facilities which serve to efficiently field units into theaters of operation. This year, Fort Riley stepped into the MOBEX II phase of its certification while deploying 160 Soldiers from the 268th Inland Cargo Transfer Company, 346th Transportation Battalion, 166th Regional Support Group, a U.S. Army Reserve unit stationed in Puerto Rico, into the CENTCOM operating theater as part of a larger exercise known as Pershing Strike. This exercise validated capabilities for several MFGI assets from First Army Headquarters at Rock Island Arsenal, Illinois, and Camp Atterbury, Indiana, Fort Cavazos, Texas, Fort Bliss, Texas, Fort Stewart, Georgia, Fort Riley, Kansas, and Fort McCoy, Wisconsin. from July 23 through Aug. 4.
Fort Riley hosted a diverse set of units in support of the MOBEX II mission. The 189th Infantry Brigade, First Army Division West, Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington, provided and supervised the training of the deploying U.S. Army Reserve Soldiers. The 297th Regional Support Group, Alaska Army National Guard out of Anchorage Alaska provided logistical support for mobilizing the 268th ICTC out of Puerto Rico.
Fort Riley’s Mobilization and Reserve Support Branch helped coordinate the exercise and provided training, support, and lodging sites at Camp Funston. The MSRB was joined by Army Field Support Battalion-Riley, the Fort Riley directorate of human resources, and Fort Riley range control staff in direct support to Pershing Strike.
Lt. Col. Sean Pence, commander for the 297th Regional Support Group, said the pieces came together to provide the best support on the ground during the mobilization, “We are practicing for a Large-Scale Mobilization Operation. During MOBEX II Pershing strike we’re acting as a headquarters element for the support elements. We are ensuring that everything is ready for the trainers from 189th First Army. That includes concrete logistical items such as ensuring ranges have the proper amounts of ammunition, providing food, and any other logistical functions they need to complete the mission.”
Pence believes these types of exercises are key to ensuring that the larger scale operations run smoothly, “During this time, we are learning how things run on Fort Riley, and in return are creating linkages which will make next step up to the larger scale operations more efficient.”
Part of that orientation seen during the MOBEX came down to the units involved working together and developing new ways of doing business. That requires planning, and the Fort Riley Garrison team continues to work on the planning side which started in 2021 within Fort Riley’s Mobilization and Reserve Support Branch, or MRSB.
Capt. Brayden Kubly, 189th Infantry Brigade’s operations officer, says this exercise is a key portion of certifying the garrison and the larger operation “We’re mobilizing the 268th ICTC… so we’re doing the post mobilization requirements, and validating training, and retraining as needed as well. Fort Riley’s involvement is all encompassing as we’re on this installation. So, this involves Army Reserve, National Guard, and active Army and so it comes with its own set of unique challenges. This is a first as well for the 189th as a real-world mobilization, and so it is a crucial step in validating the concept of inactive primary MFGIs within the Army’s mission.”
As part of Fort Riley’s Pershing Strike exercise, the 268th ICTC participated in the unit’s Culminating Training Exercise as they completed their final steps in preparation for arriving in theater.
Sgt. Rivera Ransis, from 268th ICTC, believes it’s important to conduct this type of training before stepping into theater “At the end of the day today, the Soldiers are getting used to the equipment and becoming confident in operating within the tactical environment.”
Todd Ziegler, director of Fort Riley’s MRSB, said his unit was heavily involved in preplanning for Pershing Strike, “We helped facilitate the units as they land here on our installation. We provide the on-hand facilities, and work as the primary bridge between the MFGI operations and Fort Riley assets. As an example, we were able to provide training support through the on post SJA staff for the deploying unit. Keep in mind the MOBEX II is just another step as we investigate the next phase of testing the MFGI program.”
That future certification is already scheduled, with plans for Fort Riley’s hosting of a MOBEX III in 2024, with up to 2,500 training, support and deploying service members. With completion of MOBEX III, Fort Riley will be certified as a Mobilization Force Generation Installation, supporting personnel deploying into combat operations.
Ziegler believes the entire team is ready for those next steps, “We’re looking forward to the upcoming challenges, and forging stronger partnerships with the supporting units to complete the mission.”