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Vital Partners in Sustainment: CASCOM's Support of the Reserve Component

One of the key factors underlying the Army's status as the preeminent land-based military force in the world is its ability to integrate and employ the Reserve component—the Army National Guard and the U.S. Army Reserve—as part of the operating force. This incorporation of the Reserve component is crucial to maintaining one of the Army's decisive advantages in the global environment: its ability to sustain itself over global distances. With the majority of the Army's total sustainment force in the Reserve component, the Guard and Reserve provide the depth needed to sustain Army forces in all but the most limited contingencies.

For example, at echelons above brigade, Reserve component sustainment units comprise over 72 percent of the total force. That number is projected to increase to 77 percent by 2017, with 100 percent of many capabilities found only in the Guard and Reserve.

While serving as the commander of the Surface Deployment and Distribution Command (SDDC), I saw firsthand the invaluable contributions made to the fight by the Reserve forces. They clearly understood the importance of support to the warfighter, embraced the mission, and melded seamlessly into the organization with the Active component.

Because the Reserve component is such an important part of the sustainment force, the Army Combined Arms Support Command (CASCOM) and its proponent schools are heavily engaged across the doctrine, organization, training, materiel, leadership and education, personnel, and facilities spectrum to ensure continued institutional support to the Guard and Reserve.

That engagement begins with CASCOM's organizational structure, where Reserve component personnel are integrated at every level. The integration starts in the command group, where CASCOM's Deputy Commanding General (DCG) for Mobilization and Training is a Reserve brigadier general. Supporting the DCG are over 70 Active Guard Reserve Soldiers assigned to the CASCOM staff and its proponent schools. These Soldiers' understanding of the Reserve component's structure and training environment provides the critical insights that CASCOM needs to effectively support the Guard and Reserve.

The knowledge and understanding possessed by its Reserve component personnel, in turn, provide the foundation for CASCOM's direct support of Reserve component education and training. The size of this support can be seen in the student load for 2010, when CASCOM schools trained more than 27,000 Reserve component sustainment Soldiers.

CASCOM also worked closely with the Army National Guard's regional training institutes and the Army Reserve's 94th Training Division to train an additional 28,000 sustainment Soldiers. CASCOM's ongoing effort to update both Active and Reserve component programs of instruction in its schools ensures that all Soldiers, regardless of which school provides their training, meet the same standards upon graduation.

Beyond the schoolhouses, CASCOM provides major support to the collective training of both Components through the Command Post Exercise–Sustainment (CPX–S). This innovative collective exercise fills a training gap for Active, Guard, and Reserve expeditionary sustainment commands, sustainment brigades, and movement control battalions as they prepare to deploy.

Reverse collection and analysis team events for redeploying units have identified the CPX–S as one of the most important training events Soldiers received during their preparation for deployment. The CPX–S is not currently a program of record, so CASCOM is working with the Army Training and Doctrine Command, the Guard and Reserve, and the Army Forces Command to develop a long-term training strategy to meet sustainment units' needs.

In the coming months and years, CASCOM support of the Reserve component faces two major challenges: a more austere funding environment that will affect all Army organizations and programs, and the transformation of the Army's way of doing business to an enterprise approach.

At a time of funding constraints, CASCOM is using new technologies and strategies to maximize institutional training for the Guard and Reserve. Innovations resulting from the new Army Leader Development Strategy, Army Learning Concept, and Army Training Concept hold great promise for the Reserve component. Increased use of distance learning, digital applications, and skills-based training will facilitate instruction that reaches Guard and Reserve sustainment Soldiers more efficiently and effectively.

Delivering training directly to the point of need, testing Soldiers before their training, and tailoring their learning based on the results of those tests will improve the quality of training provided to Reserve component Soldiers and help to reduce the time they spend away from their civilian jobs. Funding and careful integration of the Reserve component into CASCOM's overall strategy will remain vital, but these new strategies hold the promise of enhanced institutional training for the Reserve component in the future.

The Army cannot retain its dominance in the future without a ready, operational Reserve component. The last 10 years have demonstrated that the Reserve component is fully up to all challenges. As the Army faces a new, more resource-constrained environment, CASCOM is dedicated to ensuring that its support of the Reserve component does not falter. Challenges remain, but the Reserve component will be ready when called and, through them, so will the sustainment community.

Major General James L. Hodge is the commanding general of the Army Combined Arms Support Command and Sustainment Center of Excellence at Fort Lee, Virginia.

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