News: Unit mobilization provides stability for mission and Reserve Component Soldiers
By: Capt. Antonia Greene
174th Infantry Brigade
JOINT BASE MCGUIRE DIX LAKEHURST, N.J. — Beginning November, the 174th Infantry Brigade will replace its’ individually voluntary mobilized soldiers with one of the brigade’s six reserve battalions.
More than 60 percent of First Army’s operational strength is comprised of Reserve Component personnel on individual voluntary mobilization orders or Contingency-Active Duty for Operational Support orders. Recently, the Army directed First Army to reduce the number of individually voluntary mobilized soldiers by 30 percent annually over the next three years until all positions are gone. To sustain mission capability, First Army plans to replace soldiers on COADOS orders with mobilized Army Reserve training or logistics support battalions.
"Using the Army Force Generation Cycle to plan the mobilization of our Reserve Component units allows us to provide predictability to reservists, their families, and employers,” explained Col. Craig A. Osborne, commander, 174th Infantry Brigade. “Each of our six reserve battalions knows specifically what year in the future they will be in the ‘available year’ and the training required to reach that level of readiness is very clear.”
Placing Reserve TSBNs and LSBNs already assigned to First Army Brigades in the Army Force Generation cycle allows the units to progressively build readiness and unit cohesion and ensure units in the available year are fully capable to support scalable mobilization operations and CEF training support requirements.
Members of 2nd Battalion, 309th Regiment, 174th Infantry Brigade, Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, N.J., were recently notified the unit would mobilize, Nov. 1, 2012. Given the 174th’s primary mission of executing post mobilization training for a variety of services and individual augmentees, the 2-309th TSBn has begun training to develop a confident, proficient and professional instructor force.
“We are conducting final preparations for our mobilization and will be responsible for training deploying service members, in conjunction with our partner active component battalions,” said Army Maj. Shawn Sebrell, commander, 2-309thTraining Support Battalion.
“The Train/Ready phase was easily planned and coordinated after we were notified,” explained Sgt. 1st Class Walter Geiger, training and security manager for 2-309th TSBn. “Our soldiers are teaming up with the current trainer mentors out on the lanes for the next two weeks plus and learning on the go.”
During annual training, several 2-309th TSBn soldiers plan to attend the two-week Army Basic Instructor Course at JB-MDL to certify as instructors. They also plan to complete training required to certify as Combat Life Savers and attain their licenses on the Humvee and Mine Resistant Ambush Protected vehicles. Many soldiers are observing and mirroring the current trainer mentors on a variety of Army Warrior Tasks training lanes including map reading and land navigation.
“Providing mission relevant training is our brigade’s mission, and the Army is moving towards more contingency-based training rather than combat deployment training. We must remain agile, trained, and ready for whatever comes in the future,” explained Sebrell. “Our battalion continues to increase our trainer certifications and build the practices of how we will operate while we are mobilized. We are anxious to perform our mission and looking forward to the challenges that lie ahead.”
“By readying ourselves now to augment and replace our active component counterparts a few months down the road, our peer training today will help our transition go smooth in November,” added Geiger.
The majority of the soldiers scheduled to mobilize later this year are volunteers. Many have already served as trainer mentors previously, and others are proud to execute their war time mission.
“We have a good mix of combat arms and support soldiers in the unit, and most have previously deployed,” said Sebrell. “Their previous experience and the regular proficiency training we conduct help us maintain our qualifications to be trainers and keep relevant.”
“There is no greater responsibility than to properly prepare and train soldiers going downrange,” said Sgt. Maj. Dale Hanavan, 2-309th TSBn sergeant major.” Hanavan served in Desert Storm and most recently with 2nd Battalion (Logistics Support) 313th Regiment, also part of First Army Division East.
Sgts. 1st Class Edwin Gonzalez and Jason Smith, both former liaison officers and training lane instructors years past admitted they missed wearing the uniform every day.
“We were both mobilized together training Army tasks and served as liaisons for deploying units,” said Gonzales. “I’m excited to be back with my battalion, eager to train and pass on my experience again to deploying troops.”
“Reservists training reservists is a formula for success,” said Sebrell. “Many of the service members we train at the joint base are Air Force and Navy personnel. Our soldiers have the skills and experience to bridge the cross-culture gap and foster the ‘one team-one fight’ mantra.”
The majority of the 2-309th TSBn soldiers live within local commuting distance to the joint base and going home to their families and friends on a regular basis is invaluable.
"Mobilizing a unit that is assigned to the joint base provides a greater amount of support for our soldiers as they transition from civilian employment to full-time status as a soldier, “explained Osborne.
“Clearly, whenever a soldier deploys to a stateside or overseas location, the separation from friends and family is a significant element to consider; since the majority of soldiers mobilizing live reasonably close, some will be able to maintain their own residences while performing their duties, and all will be able to have frequent, if not daily, contact with their families and friends."