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Ready, Set, Redeploy

The Army Force Generation model provides units with a standardized cycle that allows them to reset and train between deployments.

In January 2006, the 3d Infantry Division re-deployed from Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF) 04–06 and faced the monumental task of having to regenerate its brigade combat teams (BCTs). This article will cover the process that the 3d Infantry Division used to reset the 1st BCT for its subsequent deployment to Iraq in January 2007.

Before 2005, units throughout the Army developed their own methods for regenerating units for redeployment. The problem with these different methods was that they were not conducted to the same standard, the time required to execute them varied from unit to unit, and efforts were duplicated across the Army. To overcome these problems and standardize deployment and redeployment, the Army developed the Army Force Generation (ARFORGEN) model.

To understand the challenges associated with ARFORGEN, it is essential to understand the process. According to an Army Forces Command (FORSCOM) extract, ARFORGEN is a three-phased process that moves a unit from an initial “reset/train” pool (postdeployment) to a “ready” pool (available to conduct mission preparation and training) to an “available” pool (available to conduct missions). ARFORGEN provides a sequential approach that synchronizes capabilities and readiness with equipping and resourcing. It also predicts when forces will be available and decreases the uncertainty of whether or not units will be prepared for future missions. Under ideal conditions, this process can take up to 2 years.

Preparing for Deployment

According to the 2007 Army Posture Statement, the objective rotation schedule for Active component Soldiers is 1 year deployed and 2 years at home station. In the summer of 2006, only about 6 months after redeploying from OIF 04–06, the 1st BCT received notification that it had to be ready to deploy by 1 December. Later, the brigade received an order requiring it to deploy in January 2007. The 3d Infantry Division acknowledged it had less than the optimal time to prepare this BCT for combat operations. Moreover, one of the division commander’s primary goals was to ensure that Soldiers had a maximum amount of time to spend with their families. The division had the delicate task of balancing training with family time.

To ensure that the division trained efficiently and effectively while placing families first, the division commander, Major General Rick Lynch, directed that—

  • Whenever possible, there would be no weekend training. If weekend training was necessary, it would only take place with his personal approval.
  • Soldiers would participate in mandatory family time on Thursdays.
  • A leaders’ call would be conducted on Fridays to build teamwork.

Not only were there some self-imposed constraints on how the division was going to train the force, but there were numerous other situational constraints. These constraints can be categorized into three areas: personnel, equipment, and training.

Manning the 1st BCT

The constraints caused by personnel shortages proved to be one of the biggest challenges. Even though one of the goals of ARFORGEN is to ensure that units are not “robbing Peter to pay Paul,” the 1st BCT was assigned Soldiers from other units to ensure that it was sufficiently manned to begin training on its ready-to-train date (R-day), which was 1 May 2006.

Two issues were major challenges with regards to manning the 1st BCT. First, the division had to finish converting its personnel management system to the new Personnel Services Delivery-Redesign (PSDR). Second, it had to ensure that the 1st BCT was 85-percent manned by R-day and 100-percent manned before the start of its mission rehearsal exercise (MRX).

Because of the enormous personnel shortages within the 1st BCT and the short amount of time the division and BCT had to regenerate the unit, the division was forced to regress from using PSDR and reverted back to centralized strength management for a period of time. The division moved deployable Soldiers from other BCTs to get the 1st BCT to 85 percent of its strength. Although the intent was to get the 1st BCT to sufficient strength, reassigning Soldiers created personnel gaps in the other BCTs. The division ended up having the 1st BCT over 105-percent assigned with 100 percent of the Soldiers available. The other BCTs averaged 87-percent assigned and 81-percent available. Because of these growing inequities, the division commander decided to cease the cross-leveling of Soldiers from one BCT to fill another unless it was absolutely essential to the mission.

Re-equipping the 1st BCT

Regenerating equipment in time to conduct training was an equally daunting task. Because of in-theater requirements, much of the division’s and the 1st BCT’s equipment was left in theater for follow-on units as theater-provided equipment. The equipment shortages challenged the division to plan training without having the equipment on hand. The division placed its faith in the Army Materiel Command (AMC) and FORSCOM to deliver the equipment just in time for training.
The 1st BCT received its equipment from a variety of sources and methods, including—

  • Equipment reset.
  • Lateral transfers from within the division and from external sources, such as FORSCOM.
  • New equipment fielding.

To manage the influx of equipment, the division established a division reset team, which proved to be an invaluable resource in managing the reset of the 1st BCT and the division. This team was led by the division G–4 and consisted of Soldier and civilian representatives from the division staff (G–1 through G–9) and representatives from all of the division’s brigades, the division’s special troops battalion, the installation, the directorate of logistics, AMC, the supporting program manager, and the Army G–8.

Reset facilities. For the 3d Infantry Division, reset was conducted at the national and field levels. An important enabler was the establishment of limited, consolidated, field-level reset facilities at Fort Stewart, Georgia, and some smaller-scale activities at Fort Benning, Georgia. While the majority of the field reset activities took place at Fort Stewart, the division also received a great deal of assistance from AMC and original equipment manufacturers, such as British Aerospace. The division’s reset also included equipment that was issued from the national level.

Part of the field-level reset methodology was to create center of excellence (COE) sites that focused on resetting specific types of equipment. The division established COEs for tracked vehicles; wheeled vehicles; generators; weapons; chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear, and high-yield explosives; communications equipment; and night vision equipment. The benefits of these COEs were creating economy of scale and having equipment repaired to the same standard.

Lateral transfers. Managing the receipt and issue of equipment through the lateral transfer process was as big a challenge—if not bigger—as managing any other inbound equipment because the equipment came from so many different sources and involved so many transactions. Further challenging the division’s abilities to track and execute more than 5,000 lateral transfers was the fact that it no longer had a division property book officer or authorization for an asset visibility section within the division G–4 section.

To remedy the problem of not having an authorized asset visibility section, the division established its own, which consisted of 1 chief warrant officer (W–5) property book technician and 11 Department of the Army civilians and contractors. This team’s task was to monitor and manage the flow of equipment in and out of the division and provide accurate on-hand equipment status.

Force modernization. The 1st BCT also received equipment through the force modernization process, which enhanced its capabilities through new equipment fielding. Through this process, the 1st BCT received entirely new fleets of M1A1 Abrams integrated management tanks, M2A2ODS–E engineer Bradley fighting vehicles, and many other systems that enhanced its capabilities. Because these systems were new for many of the Soldiers and formations, the division was required to conduct the applicable new equipment training, which further complicated the training plan because the units had to have the equipment in time to conduct the training.

Training the 1st BCT for Combat

Although the 1st BCT may have been the best manned and equipped in the division, all that resourcing would have been a wasted effort if the Soldiers were not trained and ready for war. The cornerstone of effective training is resource management. In the case of the 1st BCT, the biggest challenges were managing the use of training facilities and ranges and training at the appropriate level given the varying skill levels within the brigade.

Because of time constraints, the brigade had to abandon the traditional model that focused on training by echelon. Instead, it developed an aggressive, multi-echelon training approach and executed individual, crew, and collective training simultaneously at all levels. This was a challenge for the BCT, especially when it came to training low-density military occupational specialties and training on critical combat enablers, such as Blue Force Tracker.

The division prioritized the manning and equipping of the 1st BCT to meet critical training goals, but some of the equipment that was fielded for training still did not arrive in time. A lack of equipment could have dramatically reduced the effectiveness of the collective training. To mitigate critical equipment shortfalls and perform collective maneuver training at the highest level possible, the brigade trained using simulations, which allowed junior leaders to rehearse and train collective tasks without the benefit of having their combat systems on hand.

Lessons Learned

The single most important lesson learned is that preparing a unit for deployment is nearly impossible for a BCT to manage without support from the division staff and the garrison. Here are some suggestions—organized by personnel, equipment, and training—for preparing a unit to deploy.

Personnel. Ensure that BCT S–1s are trained on replacement operations and understand how to work with Army Human Resources Command account managers before and after deployment.

Ensure that division G–1s maintain constant contact with the BCTs to ensure that they are fulfilling their obligations under PSDR.

Identify personnel who will soon retire, move to a new duty position, or end their military service. Ideally, this should be done 120 days before redeployment.

Equipment. Start planning your reset program during your deployment. Planning your reset operations in three key phases can make your planning easier.

During phase I (180 days from scheduled redeployment), establish your reset team under the division G–4 and identify your reset points of contact. Confirm which pieces of equipment are on the automatic reset induction list. During phase II (90 days from scheduled redeployment), key leaders should conduct site surveys for your national- and field-level reset with the AMC reset team that will be assigned to work for you when you return to home station. These surveys should focus on each installation’s capability to support equipment transportation, delivery and pick-up, staging, storage, and repairs. Finally, ensure AMC and other support agencies understand your reset plan. During phase III (30 days from your scheduled redeployment), complete the final coordination with each reset installation for the redeployment of equipment from theater and the final integration of the AMC reset team.

Deconflict your various theater-provided equipment orders and directives. During OIF 04–06, redeploying units were directed to leave certain pieces of equipment in theater for follow-on forces. Unfortunately, the various orders conflicted with each other over what equipment was to be left in theater and what equipment was to be returned to home station. Ensure that one set of orders does not contradict another set.

Re-establish property accountability. The time leading up to redeployment is a perfect opportunity to regain property accountability. Use this time to ensure that leaders properly give sub-hand receipts to property users and use automated property systems, such as Property Book Unit Supply-Enhanced. This is also a perfect time to re-energize your command supply discipline program.

Establish a reset team to centrally manage and monitor equipment reset operations. Monitor and manage equipment on-hand status and track lateral transfers. And, finally, maintain close contact with AMC representatives.

Training. To build predictability into your training schedule, develop a matrix that identifies training requirements and synchronizes those requirements with your personnel and equipment information. The real challenge for training is the large number of schools and courses that individual Soldiers and entire units attend to attain combat readiness. If personnel and equipment do not arrive fast enough, it can be hard for units to take advantage of available training before the brigade conducts collective training events.

Use simulations to compensate for equipment, personnel, and training shortfalls. Using the Virtual Combat Convoy Trainer, for example, allowed units to make up for shortages in equipment and provided a realistic training environment.

Conduct simultaneous, multi-echelon training. Because of the limited time available, you must make the best use of what you have. Multi-echelon training will allow you to conduct more training in a shorter amount of time.

Soldiers’ ability to overcome obstacles and challenges is amazing. The 3d Infantry Division Soldiers displayed innovation while preparing for deployment and redeployment. The more predictable the road to building a combat-ready force is, the better it is for Soldiers and their families. Any stability and predictability the Army provides will help in these times of uncertainty. However, if the Army routinely executes the 3-year ARFORGEN cycle in 1 year, then perhaps the model needs to be adjusted to reflect the reality of the current situation.

Major Brandon Grubbs is the deputy G–4 for the 3d Infantry Division and Multi-National Division–Center. He has an M.A. degree in management from Webster University and is a graduate of the Ordnance Officer Basic Course, the Combined Logistics Officers Advanced Course, and the Army Command and General Staff College.

Major Bill Haas is the deputy G–1 of the 3d Infantry Division and Multi-National Division– Center. He has a master’s degree in human resources management from Webster University. He is a graduate of the Chemical Officer Basic Course, the Human Resources Management Course, and the Army Command and General Staff College.

Lieutenant Colonel Robert Reynolds is the deputy G–3 for the 3d Infantry Division and Multi-National Division–Center. He has a master’s degree from the Army Command and General Staff College and is a graduate of the Armor Officer Basic Course and the Infantry Officer Advanced Course.