March 13, 2008

Virginia’s 29th Infantry Division hosts conference for Army National Guard senior leaders

By Capt. Lisa Browne
29th Infantry Division Public Affairs

SPRINGFIELD, Va. Nearly 100 Army National Guard Soldiers from as far away as California gathered March 12 in Springfield, Va. for the first 29th Infantry Division Mission Essential Task List (METL) Conference to discuss the Army Guard’s future and its impact on Soldiers, their families, their communities and on the ambitious, dual-mission of the National Guard. The conference will continue March 13 and wrap up March 14.

The conference started out as a meeting of the 29th Infantry Division senior leaders, but it grew in scope to include leaders from all over the nation. When he opened the conference March 12, Brig. Gen. Grant Hayden, Commanding General of the 29th, explained how it quickly evolved into an opportunity for other Guard divisions throughout the 54 states and territories to share best practices when he realized the annual Army National Guard Senior Leader’s conference was cancelled this year.

Describing the goal of the conference, Hayden said, “We are interested in how Maj. Gen. Nash and the 34th Infantry Division will manage their pre- and post-training plans when they don’t have the 15 to 16 months to conduct a mobilization process like the 42nd Infantry Division did before they deployed.” The 34th Infantry Division is headquartered in Rosemount, Minnesota with approximately 15,000 Soldiers and the 42nd Infantry Division is headquartered in New York with units in eight different states.

The themes of optimization and collaboration were also reflected in opening keynote presentation given by Maj. Gen. James A. Kelley, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Reserve Affairs (Readiness Training and Mobilization).

Kelley gave an overview of the Army and how the Army Reserves, including the Army National Guard, actually carries 70% of the critical infrastructure including medical and infantry units. He opened the floor to questions and encouraged discussion throughout the conference for solutions on increasing recruitment, improving training, and evolving as a joint and interagency resource.

Throughout the week almost 100 Army National Guard leaders from units throughout the country will exchange valuable experiences and compare approaches on their Mission Essential Task Lists. Leaders from units that have recently deployed will share lessons learned and best practices with leaders of units scheduled to deploy as scheduled on the Armed Forces Generation (ARFORGEN) cycle.
Scheduled speakers at the conference include Lt. Gen. Thomas G. Miller, Commander, First Army; Lt. Gen. Clyde A. Vaughn, Director, Army National Guard; Maj. Gen. Richard P. Formica, Director of Force Management; Maj. Gen. Daniel E. Long, Jr., Principal Assistant to the Chief, National Guard Bureau on Infrastructure Development/Southwest Border; Col. Mark C. Strong, Chief, Army National Guard Force Management Division; and Col. Robert A. Moore, Chief, Army National Guard Training Division.

ARFORGEN is the structured progression of increased unit readiness over time resulting in recurring periods of availability of trained, ready and cohesive units. Army units will proceed through the Reset and Train, Ready and Available force pools to meet operational requirements with increased predictability.

Units in the Reset and Train force pool redeploy from operations, receive and stabilize personnel, reset equipment, and conduct individual and collective training. Unit collective training is focused on core Mission Essential Task List (METL) tasks, such as offensive and defensive operations. The Reset and Train phase culminates in a brigade-level collective training event. 

Units in the Reset and Train force pool are not ready or available for major combat operations. However, they should be ready to respond to homeland defense requirements and provide defense support to civil authorities at all times.

The Army is also executing the most ambitious restructuring of its forces since World War II, transforming the Cold War Army to the type of versatile force required for the Global War on Terrorism and future threats. It is restructuring and rebalancing more than 100,000 positions in both the active and reserve component force structures. The Army is eliminating less-used force structure to resource additional infantry capabilities and high-demand units such as military police, transportation and civil affairs.

The Army modular force initiative—the major transformational effort—involves the total redesign of the operational Army into a larger, more powerful, more flexible and more rapidly deployable force while moving the Army from a division-centric structure to one built around a brigade combat team (BCT). BCTs are a stand-alone, self-sufficient and standardized tactical force of between 3,500 and 4,000 Soldiers that are organized by the way they fight.

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