Tag Archives: Reserve

Pilot program to ensure Soldiers ‘fight as one Army’

By DAVID VERGUN
Army News Service

Select National Guard and Reserve units will soon train more closely with active Soldiers in a program known as “Associated Units.”

This pilot program was announced by the acting secretary of the Army, in a March 21 memorandum: “Designation of Associated Units in Support of Army Total Force Policy.”

Shortly after the announcement, Army Chief of Staff Gen. Mark A. Milley said: “Much of America’s Army’s capacity is resident in the Reserve components and we must rely more heavily on them to meet the demands of a complex global environment.

“The Associated Units pilot allows us to leverage the capabilities and capacities of the Active Component, Army Reserve and the Army National Guard as one Army,” he said.

Chief of Army Reserve and Commanding General, U.S. Army Reserve Command Lt. Gen. Jeffrey W. Talley said: “The Associated Units pilot facilitates readiness and strategic depth across components. These units will train, build readiness and ultimately fight as one Army.”

How it works

If a reserve-component battalion is associated with an active brigade combat team, the BCT commander assumes responsibility for approving the training program of the reserve-component unit. The BCT commander will assess manpower, equipment and resources requirements needed for the training.

In addition, there will also be active-component units associated with RC headquarters. For example, the 1-28 Infantry at Fort Benning, Georgia, will be associated with the 48th Infantry BCT of the Georgia Army National Guard, or ARNG. In this case, the National Guard Infantry Brigade Combat Team commander will approve the training of the active-component battalion.

Key elements

An annual evaluation will be made by the higher commander regarding the compatibility and capabilities of the associated unit during the pilot.

Another key element of the pilot is the exchange of personnel between the units — a small number of active officers and noncommissioned officers will go to the RC units and vice-versa.

Additional training

RC units selected for the pilot will conduct up to 15 additional days of training each year, above the one weekend-per-month and two weeks of annual training. Some of this time will be spent at the combat training centers to maximize benefits to readiness.

“Readiness is increased by the number of training days for these units,” said Col. Brian Ellis, chief of the Organizational Integration Division, Force Management Directorate, G-3.

“A sustainable readiness model has been built for each of these units, something we’re trying to get back to as an Army. We’re transitioning from the cyclical base of readiness where we take a unit to a CTC, and deploy them, and drain the readiness that was built up. Now we’re trying to sustain that readiness over multiple CTC rotations in the event of a deployment.”

Why the pilot

“This is how we’ll fight in the future,” Ellis said, explaining RC units will operate alongside the active component. It’s about building relationships prior to mobilization, he said.

“We will train as we fight,” he said. “It makes sense to train as one Army.”

Way ahead

The pilot program will last for three years and after that time an assessment will be made for how the program could expand.

The 27 units for the pilot program were selected “with multiple criteria in mind, including geographic location and capability gaps,” Ellis said.

Associated units in the program will receive additional resources, he said. “If we expand, we’ll determine where those resources will be coming from.”

Units participating in the Associated Units pilot are:

•3rd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division, stationed at Fort Polk, Louisiana, will be associated with the 36th Infantry Division, Texas Army National Guard

•86th Infantry BCT, Vermont ARNG, will be associated with the 10th Mountain Div., stationed at Fort Drum, New York

•81st Armored BCT, Washington ARNG, will be associated with the 7th Infantry Div., stationed at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington

•48th Infantry Brigade, Georgia ARNG, will be associated with the 3rd ID, stationed at Fort Stewart, Georgia

•Task Force 1-28 Inf., stationed at Fort Benning, Georgia, will be associated with the 48th
IBCT, Georgia ARNG

•100th Bn., 442 Infantry Reg., an Army Reserve unit, will be associated with the 3rd BCT, 25th ID, stationed at Schofield Barracks, Hawaii

•1st Bn., 143 Inf. Reg., Texas ARNG, will be associated with the 173rd Airborne BCT, stationed in Vicenza, Italy

•1st Bn., 151 Inf. Reg., Indiana ARNG, will be associated with the 2nd BCT, 25th ID, stationed at Schofield Barracks

•5th Engineer Bn., stationed at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri, will be associated with the 35th Engineer Bde., Missouri ARNG

•840th Engineer Company, Texas ARNG, will be associated with the 36th Engineer Bde., stationed at Fort Hood, Texas

•824th Quartermaster Co., a North Carolina-based Army Reserve unit, will be associated with the 82nd Sustainment Bde., stationed at Fort Bragg, North Carolina

•The 249th Transportation Co., Texas ARNG and the 1245th Transportation Co., Oklahoma ARNG, will be associated with the 1st Cavalry Div.’s Sustainment Bde., stationed in Fort Hood

•1176th Transportation Co., Tennessee ARNG, will be associated with the 101st Sustainment Bde., stationed at Fort Campbell, Kentucky

•2123rd Transportation Co., Kentucky ARNG, will be associated with the 101st Sustainment Bde., stationed at Fort Campbell

CSM tells new sergeants major importance of leadership, Reserves

By CLIFFORD KYLE JONES
NCO Journal

As the senior enlisted advisor of the Army Reserve component, Command Sgt. Maj. Luther Thomas Jr. has seen first-hand how important Reserve Soldiers are to the total Army’s operations and how reservists’ diverse skills benefit the service.

Soon, Thomas will take a new position as the senior enlisted adviser to the assistant secretary of defense for Manpower and Reserve Affairs. It’s a position that will influence not only the Army Reserve component, but also the rest of the Army and other services.

Going into that position, though, Thomas will keep in mind the impact of Reserve Soldiers.

Command Sgt. Maj. Luther Thomas Jr., senior enlisted advisor for the Army Reserve, congratulated the members of the Nonresidents Sergeants Major Course during the Class 1-16 graduation ceremony last month at the U.S. Army Sergeants Major Academy at Fort Bliss, Texas. (Photo by Clifford Kyle Jones / NCO Journal)
Command Sgt. Maj. Luther Thomas Jr., senior enlisted advisor for the Army Reserve, congratulated the members of the Nonresidents Sergeants Major Course during the Class 1-16 graduation ceremony last month at the U.S. Army Sergeants Major Academy at Fort Bliss, Texas. (Photo by Clifford Kyle Jones / NCO Journal)

“When I travel, I get the opportunity to meet Army Reserve Soldiers, and these Soldiers are doing some phenomenal things,” Thomas said in an interview with the NCO Journal. “And their commanders are always saying we can’t do what we do without the support of the Army Reserve.”

Thomas mentioned that on a recent visit to Alaska, for instance, he met a first sergeant who is a medical doctor in his civilian role and a specialist who works as a commercial pilot. That civilian experience can bring new perspective to Army problems, Thomas said.

“A lot of times when [Reservists] see a problem, they look at it from a multitude of ways from their civilian skill set,” he said. “The active folks who have only been Soldiers may not have that same background to look at a problem from a different angle and come up with a different solution.”

Thomas visited the U.S. Army Sergeants Major Academy, at Fort Bliss, Texas, last month and spoke to the graduating Class 1-16 of the Nonresidents Sergeants Major Course. He also spoke to members of Class 66 of the residential Sergeants Major Course.

He had separate but related messages for each of them.

He spoke to members of the Nonresidents Course about the importance of leadership and being able to lead through change.

“Leadership is important, regardless of the organization you belong to,” Thomas said after his speeches. “In the Army Reserve, it’s especially important, because we are for the most part, an organization where the overwhelming majority of our folks are on duty for two days a month and about two weeks out of the year for a grand total of 39 days. But as leaders in the Army Reserve, they work far more than just 39 days a year. … It’s a full-time job as a leader in the Army Reserve. If the leader is not tracking what’s going on, there’s no way the unit can be successful.”

Thomas told the graduates of the Nonresidents Course, “There is no doubt that we have the best manned, best trained and best led army on the planet. If we are to fight and win — and we will win — in a complex world, our overwhelming advantage is leadership.”

He described several telltale signs of a great leader — seeking out people who are more talented than themselves; taking responsibility rather than blaming subordinates or circumstances; performing under pressure and having the grit to overcome obstacles; striking a balance between being optimistic enough to be inspirational but not so optimistic as to be overconfident or unrealistic; having empathy for others; keeping open lines of communication between subordinates, peers and superiors; and being able to turn plans into action.

However, Thomas spent the most time telling the soon-to-be-minted sergeants major about one of the most important traits of a good leader: integrity.

“Soldiers look for integrity in a leader,” Thomas said. “This means confidence that a person will do the right thing with the best interest of the group in mind, even though it might not be in the leader’s own best interest.”

As leaders, Thomas also prepared the members of the nonresidents course for what would be one of their most difficult and most frequent challenges — leading change.

Noting that change is a constant, especially in the Army, Thomas said that to take their Soldiers successfully through transitions, the new sergeants major have to be effective listeners, develop their planning skills and be able to anticipate outcomes, obstacles and objections.

“As leaders, we must be able to use disruption as an opportunity to grow as an organization and guide our teams through the process to make changes as smooth as possible,” he said.

When Thomas spoke to the largely active-duty members of the Class of 66, his message shifted from inspirational to educational.

Thomas told Class 66 that his intent was “to get you to understand why the Army Reserve is not only important to the total force, but also why it’s important to you as future sergeants major that you understand what the Army Reserve’s mission is so that you can better understand how the Army Reserve can assist you.”

Thomas noted that many services the Army requires are provided by members of the Reserve component, including the majority of medical services, legal counseling, chaplain services, civil affairs, quartermasters, engineering support and military policing.

“There’s a whole lot of stuff that the active Army can’t do without the Army Reserve,” Thomas said.

Command Sgt. Maj. Luther Thomas Jr. answers questions from last month from members of Sergeant Major Course Class 66 at the U.S. Army Sergeants Major Academy at Fort Bliss, Texas. He was joined by Staff Sgt. Andrew Fink (left), the 2015 NCO of the Year, and Staff Sgt. Mark Mercer, the 2015 Reserve Drill Sergeant of the Year. (Photo by Clifford Kyle Jones / NCO Journal)
Command Sgt. Maj. Luther Thomas Jr. answers questions from last month from members of Sergeant Major Course Class 66 at the U.S. Army Sergeants Major Academy at Fort Bliss, Texas. He was joined by Staff Sgt. Andrew Fink (left), the 2015 NCO of the Year, and Staff Sgt. Mark Mercer, the 2015 Reserve Drill Sergeant of the Year. (Photo by Clifford Kyle Jones / NCO Journal)

The Army Reserve plays an outsize role among the services, as well. It’s larger than the Marine, Air Force and Navy Reserve components combined. And it’s larger than the entire Marine Corps. In addition to explaining the role of the Reserve component, Thomas wanted to remind these future sergeants major to remind their Soldiers about it as they transition out of active duty.

“We’re going to always have a place for good Soldiers, and we’re going to always need good Soldiers,” Thomas said.

Two of those good Soldiers accompanied Thomas to his address at the academy. Staff Sgt. Mark Mercer of Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri, was recently named the 2015 Army Reserve Drill Sergeant of the Year, and Staff Sgt. Andrew Fink, a Reservist from Madison, Wisconsin, won the 2015 NCO of the Year competition.

Mercer and Fink talked about the role the Reserves had played in their successes, and their backstories outline two of the primary routes Soldiers take to the Reserves.

Mercer joined the Reserves to help pay for college. Just out of high school, he wanted to enlist as an 11B infantryman. However, his father insisted he choose a military occupational specialty that he could use in a professional capacity in the civilian world. He became an X-ray technician. After 67 weeks of Advanced Individual Training, he started his part-time Reserve duties and attended the University of Oklahoma.

“Now in hindsight, being 31 years old, my dad was right,” Mercer said. “That’s what I needed to do. It provides for my family. I ended up graduating from OU with a bachelor’s, which I don’t use, because X-ray tech pays more than what I got my degree in.”

He attended drill sergeant school in 2009, and after working in that role for a few years, decided to compete in the Drill Sergeant of the Year competition at Fort Jackson, South Carolina.

“My goal was to not only be the Army Reserve Drill Sergeant of the Year, but to make it so close, even though they don’t compete against each other, that the active-duty component would not be able to tell the difference,” he said. “Because I’m not a Reserve Soldier. I am a Soldier.”

Fink took the other route. He was an active-duty combat medic and a member of the 75th Ranger Regiment before joining the Reserve component when he left active-duty to get his bachelor’s degree.

“I had lost something when I left active duty, and the Army Reserve enabled me to regain a sense of purpose and pride that civilian life alone could not do,” he said.

He used tools from both his time in the active-duty and Reserve components to excel at the NCO of the Year competition. The attention to detail enforced during his AIT and Ranger training ensured that he had mastered the basic skills tested during the competition, and the responsibility and leadership traits he has developed as a Reservist helped him persevere during some of the more rigorous and sometimes ambiguous events.

Fink said that at first, because of some lingering stigma, he was hesitant about joining the Reserve component.

“I certainly had no intentions of staying in the Reserves, but I would not be standing here before you today if it were not for the Army Reserve,” he said. “Great leaders exist in the Army Reserve, just like they do in the Ranger Regiment, just like they do in all Army units, regardless of their component.”

Reservists, families attend Yellow Ribbon reintegration event

By LISA FERDINANDO
Army News Service

Cradling their four-month-old son who seemed to be the center of everyone’s attention, military spouse Mercedes Beekley was glad she attended a Yellow Ribbon Program event with her citizen-Soldier husband.

“It’s really nice to see all the families here together and know you’re not alone,” said Beekley, whose husband, Army Reserve Spc. James Beekley, was deployed for nearly a year.

Mercedes Beekley, Army Reserve Spc. James Beekley, and their four-month-old son Nicholas attend the 99th Regional Support Command's Yellow Ribbon Program event July 13 at Maryland's National Harbor. (Army News Service)
Mercedes Beekley, Army Reserve Spc. James Beekley, and their four-month-old son Nicholas attend the 99th Regional Support Command’s Yellow Ribbon Program event July 13 at Maryland’s National Harbor. (Army News Service)

The two, who were married when Beekley was home on leave during his 2011-2012 deployment, were among the more than 700 people who attended the two-day event for reserve-component members and their families.

“It’s very informative,” said Spc. Beekley, noting it was a great way for Soldiers to get information on a wide range of topics and to meet other service members.

The Army Reserve’s 99th Regional Support Command, based at Fort Dix, N.J., hosted the event July 13-14 at Maryland’s National Harbor, just outside Washington, D.C.

The program addressed deployment issues and discussed support and benefits available during all phases of deployment.

Sgt. Geneise Lucas said she is preparing for a possible deployment.

“I have been deployed before, and if I go with my unit, this will be my second deployment,” she said. “It definitely feels good to be around others like me.”

Experts were on hand to speak on a range of issues, including financial planning, suicide prevention, brain injuries, post-traumatic stress, family readiness, employer support, legal rights and education and health benefits.

Lt. Gen. Jeffrey W. Talley, the senior leader for the Army Reserve, told a session for family members that he understands the worries that parents have while their child is deployed; his youngest son is currently on his second combat tour of Afghanistan.

“Every day when I look at what we are doing for our Soldiers, I don’t look at it as a general, I look at it as a parent,” he said.

The Yellow Ribbon Program highlights the important role and sacrifices that families make and the critical role they play in supporting Soldiers, Talley said.

“The most important message is to say ‘thank you,'” he said, noting that he and his wife of 31 years, Linda, have moved 24 times, and she has calculated that he has been away from home for six-and-a-half years during his military career.

“At the end of the day, I can only do what I do as a Soldier because I have a great spouse and a great family, and as a traditional Reservist, a great employer that supports me,” Talley said.

The Yellow Ribbon Program significantly boosts morale, is a great retention tool and an important way to help Soldiers adjust, whether they are about to leave or have already deployed, said Maj. Gen. William D. R. Waff, commanding general of the 99th Regional Support Command.

“This really helps them set the stage going out the door and then when they come back, just making sure all those loose ends are tied up and any questions or issues are resolved,” he said.

The Yellow Ribbon Reintegration Program was established by Congress to address the unique needs of National Guard and Reserve members who deploy and to provide information about the range of resources available to them.

Yellow Ribbon events are open to all eligible reserve-component members and their dependents or designated guests.

The event at National Harbor was truly an inclusive event for the Reserve component, said Waff, since it included members of the Army National Guard and the Air National Guard, and a Coast Guard family.

“We’re really reaching out across the board to try to get all of our service members taken care of from the Reserve components,” he said.