Many scholars judge General Creighton W. Abrams' plan known as the Abrams Doctrine, which set up the Army so that the Nation can never go into major conflict without calling up the Army Reserve components, to be brilliant. The doctrine has certainly been decisive in the conflicts since 2001, to which the Army National Guard and Army Reserve have provided thousands of troops in support of the Active Army both in the continental United States and in theater operations.
Putting Abrams' Principle Into Play
When examining mission command options for the 82d Sustainment Brigade during its deployment to Afghanistan, the brigade commander, Colonel John "Skip" O'Neil, put Abrams' principle into practice by integrating Active and Reserve component Soldiers into a rear provisional command that would continue the sustainment mission at Fort Bragg, North Carolina.
This option was selected over setting up a rear detachment because it provided the most efficient way to manage the training and readiness authority for 3 support battalions totaling nearly 3,000 Soldiers in the dwell cycle. It was also the best way to manage fiscal year 2010 training and certification on low-altitude delivery systems for 20 units and the reset of 12 units following deployment.
The request for authorization to establish the 82d Sustainment Brigade (Rear) (Provisional) was submitted, and in July 2009, the Army Forces Command G–3/5/7 approved its establishment effective 1 September 2009 for a period not to exceed 2 years.
The rear provisional headquarters for the 82d Sustainment Brigade, called Task Force Provider, was a mix of Active and Reserve component Soldiers. It included a blend of 87 Army Active officers and noncommissioned officers, 5 Army National Guard Soldiers, 19 Army Reservists, 3 Individual Ready Reservists, and 2 retiree recalls. It was led by a Reserve component commander, Colonel Hector Lopez, and an active-duty command sergeant major, Command Sergeant Major Edward Bell. Most of the primary staff positions were filled by Army Reservists.
The multicomponent organization assumed command on 5 November 2009 to form a hugely successful rear provisional headquarters for the 82d Sustainment Brigade. This truly was the "One Army, One Team" concept of a combined Active Army, Army National Guard, and Army Reserve force in practice and at its best. Although Task Force Provider's strength was less than 25 percent of the normal sustainment brigade headquarters, the operating tempo did not subside.
In a video teleconference from Afghanistan, Colonel O'Neil said that Colonel Lopez and Task Force Provider had done much more than just maintain the status quo. This was evident in Task Force Provider's many accomplishments, including the successful outcome of the XVIII Airborne Corps Organizational Readiness Assessment.
Operation Unified Response
Shortly after taking charge, Task Force Provider was confronted with a real-world scenario in which it played a critical role in support of Operation Unified Response, the earthquake disaster relief effort in Haiti.
During this crisis, the brigade provided mission command for logistics support, transported 3,764 Soldiers for deployment, moved 330 containers and 816 463L pallets, escorted 23 civilian transports, loaded 223 aircraft, and distributed 47 pallets of medical supplies.
Other noteworthy accomplishments during Task Force Provider's tenure were the establishment of the first-ever brigade headquarters outload support mission command cell for the Joint Forcible Entry Exercise 10–06 and Forcible Entry Demo. In this XVIII Airborne Corps and Air Force exercise, a brigade combat team (BCT) from Fort Bragg assumed duties as the Army's global reaction force with the potential of deploying up to the entire BCT in support of both domestic crisis responses and overseas contingency operations. Two mobilized Reserve component Soldiers led the logistics synchronization efforts and provided outload mission control for this high-visibility mission.
Task Force Provider also manned a theater support command response cell with 18 officers and noncommissioned officers to support the XVIII Airborne Corps' 3-week mission rehearsal exercises as it prepared to deploy to Iraq.
Task Force Provider hosted or executed several other high-visibility events, including the Annual Rigger Rodeo, which is a multicomponent, interservice best rigger competition. The task force also hosted the brigade's new expert action badge training program—a validation and training event that measured the combat readiness of sustainment brigade Soldiers. This event tested the Soldiers' physical fitness, land navigation skills, and expertise on 30 warrior tasks. Candidates completed lanes training, which culminated with an event-driven scenario and a 4-mile validation run.
Task Force Provider developed other sustainment brigade initiative guidance, such as the leader's book and the program and continuity book, for redeploying a sustainment brigade headquarters. The task force also participated in an Iraqi logistics visit with Iraqi general officers.
Benefits From Diverse Backgrounds
Task Force Provider has benefited greatly from having all three Army components in its ranks. The Active Army task force members contributed their considerable experience and familiarity with the corps and the installation. Two products of the Active component were the Primary Leaders Course and the Junior Leadership Course. These courses educate all new 82d Sustainment Brigade leaders about the brigade policies, procedures, and standards that they are expected to adhere to and enforce. The Task Force Provider S–1 laid the groundwork for the Reserve recruitment and mobilization efforts, which have been emulated by other sustainment brigades throughout the Army.
The National Guard and Reserve task force members contributed manpower, varied military and civilian backgrounds and experiences, and Reserve component sources and contacts. The brigade executive officer was a high school science teacher, a certified Lean Six Sigma green belt, and an Intermediate Level Education instructor in the Reserve. He was a great trainer and leader for the staff. Another Reservist was a civilian certified public accountant who performed brilliantly as the brigade budget officer. The brigade S–4 was an operations supervisor for Otis Elevator in Buffalo, New York. During his tenure, the 82d Sustainment Brigade won the Commanding General's Best Dining Facility Award twice.
|Supplies are delivered by airdrop on pallets prepared by the 82d Sustainment Brigade's Task Force Provider during the Joint Forcible Entry
Sustainment Brigade Accomplishments
The sustainment brigade provided support to more than 30,000 Soldiers in 12 BCTs and corps separate brigades stationed at Fort Bragg. It provided oversight and expertise on issuing, packing, and maintaining more than 27,000 parachutes. The brigade supported 1,202 ground movement missions for 24,200 tons of cargo and 1.3 million critical and routine requisition transactions for classes II (clothing and individual equipment), IV (construction and barrier materials), VII (major end items), and IX (repair parts), valued in excess of $35 million.
One person in the brigade S–3, an Army National Guard officer from Puerto Rico, was responsible for completing and managing most of the mobilization extension packets and assisting the 7th Sustainment Brigade in mobilizing Reserve component Soldiers for its own provisional command.
Two of the retiree recalls were born during the Eisenhower administration and had more than 30 years of service. These Soldiers met Fort Bragg standards, participating in daily physical training, competing in brigade and corps 4-mile runs, and setting an example for Soldiers half their age. Task Force Provider was also fortunate to have talented junior officers. Three from the National Guard had just returned from a deployment in Iraq with the 30th BCT.
In addition to Task Force Provider's varied experiences, the Soldiers' contacts with local Army National Guard and Army Reserve units proved useful. This was demonstrated when the 546th Transportation Company received a short-notice deployment order to perform a heavy equipment transporter mission to Kuwait. Since the brigade did not have this type of vehicle, Reserve officers assigned to Task Force Provider coordinated with their contacts in the North Carolina Army National Guard for the trainers and equipment needed to certify 120 drivers.
Through the combination of General Abrams' principles and Colonel O'Neil's vision, the 82d Sustainment Brigade rear provisional headquarters successfully integrated Active and Reserve component Soldiers. The varied knowledge and experience of the Active and Reserve component Soldiers served them well in fulfilling the mission of the headquarters.