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First Army: Training for Today’s Requirements and Tomorrow’s Contingencies

April 14, 2012

Numerous factors are combining today to create a rapidly changing environment for the Army. Even as war continues, the withdrawal of U.S. ground forces from Iraq and the impending reduction of forces in Afghanistan over the next several years promise to fundamentally alter the strategic landscape that has dominated Army force generation for a decade—that of supplying trained, ready units to meet combatant commanders’ requirements for the warfight.

But even as the immediate pressure is slowly reduced, enduring concerns remain. The international security situation continues to be complex, and it is perhaps even more difficult than before to predict the nature of the next global contingency. Looming force reductions and budget constraints are challenging the Army to remain in balance. The latest strategy and policy guidance makes clear that U.S. forces will accept additional risk and will no longer be sized to conduct multiyear stability operations similar to those conducted in Iraq and Afghanistan.

To hedge against increased uncertainty, the Army has come to rely upon its reserve component (RC) forces (the Army National Guard and the Army Reserve) 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. The need to ensure strategic depth throughout the force while simultaneously fulfilling the requirements of combatant commanders led the Army to devote a three-star command whose core competency is sustaining the operational readiness of the reserve component in conjunction with the Army National Guard and Army Reserve. First Army through U.S. Army Forces Command (FORSCOM) serves as the Army’s multicomponent executing agent for RC training support and mobilization operations