[ The Real McCoy Online Home ]                                                                                                                    January 23, 2009

Mobilization Assistance Team 
eases units' preparations

By Tom Michele, The Real McCoy Contributor

Before mobilizing units and their Soldiers even set foot on Fort McCoy, they are already under the guidance, leadership and training of Fort McCoy’s Mobilization Assistance Team (MAT).

Photo: Master Sgt. Dirk Rigsby (left) and Maj. Robert Pilkin study one of the Mobilization Assistance Team’s sync matrix training schedules. Pilkin is the MAT OIC and Rigsby is the MAT NCOIC. (Photo by Tom Michele)
Master Sgt. Dirk Rigsby (left) and Maj. Robert Pilkin study one of the Mobilization Assistance Team’s sync matrix training schedules. Pilkin is the MAT OIC and Rigsby is the MAT NCOIC. (Photo by Tom Michele)

The MAT is the link between the unit, the unit’s Soldiers and the Training Support Brigade. The MAT provides guidance to units training before coming to McCoy, during mob training at McCoy and then to the units and Soldiers before departure for deployment overseas.

"We deal primarily with the mobilizing unit’s leadership — the commander and first sergeant — and their peacetime higher headquarters," said Maj. Robert Pilkin, officer-in-charge (OIC) from his office in the Mobilization Unit In-Processing Center (MUIC). "This coordination lays the groundwork for the unit and its Soldiers to arrive at our mob station with the premobilization requirements as complete as possible. That is much of what we are about."

A lot of those requirements are working to have a Soldier’s personnel, medical, dental and training records up-to-date and complete, along with legal, financial, family services and chaplain’s briefings complete, all documented and signed off at their home station before heading to the Wisconsin Army installation.

"Previously we did all of that here at McCoy," Pilkin noted. Now it is being completed in pre-mob training at their home station and before coming to McCoy. "That’s part of the Army’s desire to have Soldiers spending more of their boots-on-the-ground time in-theater and a little less at the mobilization station."

A liaison officer (LNO) is sent to the unit’s home station during their battle assemblies and any extended combat training periods the units conduct between the unit’s alert order date and their mob date.  The McCoy LNOs assist the unit in preparing a lot of the paperwork necessary to be completed prior to the unit’s departure to the mob station. That paperwork includes medical and dental evaluations and screening, establishing a Family Readiness Group, ensuring training records and legal preparations are set up, establishing lodging plans, developing an alert roster, ensuring personnel have security clearances, ensuring notification has been made to Soldiers to report to home station on designated dates and assisting with Soldier financial readiness issues.

At the mob station, the LNO coaches and mentors the mobilizing unit, advising the unit about correct training procedures, maintaining the training schedule and ensuring the myriad of records are kept up to date. The LNO is the MAT OIC’s direct link to the unit and is responsible for the accountability of the unit’s training records and validation binders.

"We are the communications and information hub for mobilizing units and the training support battalions, higher headquarters and the McCoy installation so units know who to call — us — and get the information they need," Pilkin said.

But the MAT’s backwoods work doesn’t end as Soldiers come through McCoy’s Main Gate for the first time. The MAT keeps very close contact with the units and Soldiers through their training at McCoy until they are on the aircraft flying out of Volk Field.

There are several seven-foot high piles of boxes in a MUIC office with copies of the training records of every unit and Soldier going through the McCoy mob process. "We keep the records for five years," Pilkin said.

Master Sgt. Dirk Rigsby, the MAT noncommissioned OIC, said, "We monitor the unit and Soldiers from when they get their alert orders, so we can start putting the pieces together, through and to their post-mob training, all something we continually refine."

The MAT also is a "connecting link between the unit and First Army," Rigsby said. "We identify units and their personnel, training and equipment issues so we can get them ready to deploy and to be fully capable of functioning overseas," Rigsby said.

The senior NCO also noted the MAT works to ensure the units deploy on the specific date set by the Army. "Training is all tied to the force-flow model so the training unit will replace the unit that is leaving theater."

Rigsby also explained the MAT is responsible for archiving all training documentation. "To a point we put those records on a disc so the unit will take it along with them. That minimizes any need for them to call back to us. This is the first year we have gone digital with records keeping. A digital record of all of a unit and Soldiers’ training is also forwarded to First Army Headquarters."

A major aspect of that record keeping is the unit and Soldiers’ validation. Validation is the certification by a board of senior McCoy officers that convenes in the last days of the mobilization period to sign documents saying a unit and the Soldiers have completed training requirements and are ready for deployment.

"The MAT centralizes the flow of information that helps to efficiently accomplish the mission for the unit and Soldier," Rigsby said. "We keep continuity for the process, from the alert order to deployment of the unit and its Soldiers. Our focus is to prepare the unit and its Soldiers for the full spectrum of training. We are a resource for the unit and the Soldiers."

Pilkin summed it up, "We have a non-negotiable contract with the American people to ensure their Soldiers, Sailors and Airmen are as prepared to go to war as we can make them."

(Michele is a public affairs specialist for Eagle Systems and Services Inc., contractor for CONUS Support Base Services.)


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