|By Rob Schuette, Triad Staff
The U.S. Army Reserve Command (USARC) has changed the terminology it uses to refer to weekend training to better reflect the warrior environment Soldiers are facing during the Global War on Terrorism. Fort McCoy stands ready to support that change, said Installation Commander Col. Danny G. Nobles.
Soldiers from the 863rd Engineer Battalion, an Army Reserve unit from the Chicago, Ill., area, perform a platoon defense drill at Range 2, the Multi-Purpose Machine Gun Range as part of a recent battle
assembly. (Photo by Rob Schuette.)
Battle assembly/ assemblies is the new term used for weekend drills, unit training assemblies, or multiple unit training assemblies, according to Lt. Gen. James R. Helmly, USARC commanding general and chief, Army Reserve.
In a memorandum addressed to U.S. Army Reserve major subordinate commands Helmy wrote: "In peacetime, armies change slowly and deliberately. Today, that measured approach will not suffice for the Army Reserve at war. In short, change in this time of war must deal simultaneously with both current and future Army Reserve needs."
Personnel historically have associated the term "weekend drills" with a preoccupation with administrative duties, he wrote. The term battle assemblies will reflect the intent for Army Reserve training to focus intensively on mission-related Mission Essential Task List training and the training of Soldiers to be warriors who are proficient and competent in warrior tasks.
Nobles said the change in terminology and mindset, combined with the proposed Army Reserve five-year training cycle, will be very important to Fort McCoy's training future.
Instead of having administrative-heavy training weekends, the new mindset proposes shifting more of the administrative work to the full-time staff while allowing the reserve-component military personnel to focus on individual and collective training skills, Nobles said.
Reserve-component units will focus on these mission items and other skills needed for a successful deployment during the five-year training cycle proposed by Helmly, he said. The Army Reserve Expeditionary Force (AREF) will allow the Army Reserve to restructure to be the agile, adaptive and rotationally based force that the Army and joint forces need.
The first year stresses the development of individual skills. In the second year, units would focus on small-unit collective training and building the team, Nobles said.
Nobles said training during the third year would focus on unit collective tasks, and the year would culminate with a large-unit warrior exercise. Year four would build on the third year training and train on any other skills that need refining, he said. The units would go to the National Training Center or Joint Readiness Training Center to be validated on deployment skills. If national training centers weren't available, installations, such as Fort McCoy, would be available to provide the training, he added.
In year five, units would be ready to deploy. Nobles said two AREF packages would be prepared to support potential deployments each year. The majority of Army Reserve units would be assigned to one of 10 proposed AREF packages.
"This would have the troops ready in the event they need to be deployed (in year five)," Nobles said. "It also would bring predictability to the Soldiers, employers and to the Army."
The Army National Guard will have a similar training cycle, except it is based on a six-year cycle, he said.
The training cycle would provide team building throughout the training, Nobles said. Currently, many units mobilizing at Fort McCoy have had a large percentage of Soldiers cross-leveled to fill positions. Fort McCoy has to develop and equip the units in a short time to make a team out of them, he said.
"Fort McCoy has done well, but the new training cycle will be so much better," Nobles said. "And what that does for a place like Fort McCoy is to make it relevant throughout the five- or six-year training cycles. We have the personnel support, ranges and training areas they need to prepare. In the meantime, we continue on with our power-projection mission like we do today."
(Some material in this story is from the Army Reserve Magazine Spring 2005.)