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First Army training mission ensures readiness for future contingencies

Friday, June 01, 2012

AUSA’s Institute of Land Warfare has recently released a new publication.

"First Army: Training for Today’s Requirements and Tomorrow’s Contingencies" (Torchbearer Issue Paper, April 2012) explores the Army’s three-star command whose core competency is sustaining the operational readiness of the reserve component (RC) in conjunction with the Army National Guard and Army Reserve.

The Army has come to rely upon its reserve component as an operational reserve to preserve hard-earned expertise gained over a decade of war and to be able to expand capabilities rapidly if demand suddenly rises.

First Army’s role in helping ensure the readiness of the total Army is to advise and assist in training all Army National Guard and Army Reserve soldiers in the continental United States during pre-mobilization periods to meet combatant commanders’ requirements worldwide.

This function is accomplished by a skilled group of almost 2,500 trainer/mentors who comprise First Army’s two subordinate divisions, 16 training support brigades and 103 training support battalions.

First Army has trained thousands of reserve component formations to perform complex contingency missions and more than 750,000 personnel in support of overseas contingency operations.

Army leaders recently selected soldiers (from the active and reserve components) assigned to First Army to be members of its new security force assistance teams (SFATs)—a key mechanism by which American forces are helping Afghanistan improve its security capability—because of their experience as trainer/mentors. Eventually, 150 SFATs will operate in the southern and eastern sectors of Afghanistan.

When these soldiers return to their parent units in early 2013, they will apply lessons learned in the field to training curricula for other RC units, thereby helping institutionalize their experience in the operational reserve.

It is vital that manning, equipping and training the operational reserve be carried out in balance and in sufficient levels to meet continuous need.

However, looming budget cuts threaten to disrupt this balance and slash modernization and readiness accounts disproportionately.

Applying the lessons learned about total force readiness from the past decade will be crucial to successfully confronting the uncertainty of the next decade.

This and other ILW publications are available online at http://www.ausa.org/ilw and can also be obtained by calling (800) 336-4570, Ext. 4630, or by e-mailing a request to [email protected].