Entrance to the Doña Ana Training Complex which houses the U.S. Army National Guard’s 30th Armored Brigade Combat Team. The 30th ABCT is currently mobilized here in preparation to support Operation Spartan Shield | Photo by Capt. Joselyn Sydnor, 653rd Regional Support Group
FORT BLISS, Texas – The 653rd Regional Support Group, mobilized here as the Fort Bliss Mobilization Brigade, is defining and refining the mobilization process with the arrival in August of almost 4,000 Soldiers of the Army National Guard’s 30th Armored Brigade Combat Team.
The unit is only the second BCT in more than a decade to mobilize in its entirety. And, as the largest unit the FBMB would mobilize during the 653rd RSG’s tenure, it would be the best opportunity to test processes for Mobilization Force Generation Installation Expansion.
The MFGI Expansion mission supports the housing, training, and logistical support requirements for the rapid mobilization and deployment of Army Reserve Component units at designated Army installations in an instance of a no-notice contingency operation.
“We’re improving processes so that they make sense and still meet all the requirements from Headquarters DA,” said Col. Chandra Roberts, commander of the FBMB.
Housing the large number of Soldiers in the 30th ABCT provided a unique challenge which was met using the Logistics Civil Augmentation Program, or LOGCAP. LOGCAP is a program under the Department of the Army and the Army Materiel Command that uses pre-existing corporate contracts.
“Army Materiel Command has LOGCAP contracts in place,” said Roberts. “It’s something quick we have on the shelf for contingencies, whether they be natural disasters, contingency exercises, or MFGI Expansion.”
According to Maj. Scott H. Breseman, officer of charge of FBMB Facilities, Doña Ana can house approximately 1,800 personnel organically, with LOGCAP providing living areas for an additional 2,400 personnel in tents. The LOGCAP contract is flexible, providing additional beds when needed.
In addition to the tent structures, LOGCAP provided environmental control units, power, restrooms, shower facilities and arranged for laundry services at Doña Ana training area. This enabled the FBMB to continue to provide the same services for the continuing flow of mobilizing and demobilizing units coming through the main base.
Life support operations were completed within two weeks from the approval of dig permits to being declared fully operational.
An operations and maintenance center remained on ground to keep services up and running. The top two major upkeep demands were generators and air conditioning. Maj. Donald R. Young, Mayor at Doña Ana Training Area, notes that Soldiers come with so many electronics now, that increasing the number of generators and power outlets for the tents would be beneficial in the future.
“The 30th ABCT’s M-RSO is informing our knowledge of MFGI expansion,” said Roberts.
Another process tested was the use of Tiger Teams, which were sent to all the battalions to support their Soldier Readiness Program Level II events. The teams consisted of subject matter experts from the FBMB, the 7220th Medical Support Unit, and several Fort Bliss enterprise partners.
The Tiger Teams ensured that everyone knew the proper SRP Level II requirements, reducing the number of Soldiers who end up REFRAD (released from active duty) due to medical disqualification, explained Douglas J. Vogel, chief of Directorate of Plans, Training, Mobilization, and Security.
Col. Heidi Otis, commander of the 7220th MSU, expounded, “The use of Tiger Teams, coupled with 90-60-30-day teleconferences with case management, was a definite win—both for the mobilizing Soldiers and our medical providers.” Otis explained the constant communication between the 30th ABCT and liaison officers at Fort Bliss ensured the unit understood the expectations.
Vogel mentioned that while the use of the Tiger Teams was a success in the mobilization of the 30th ABCT, it may not be as effective with MFGI expansion for lack of preparatory time.
Roberts shared that the FBMB was looking to increase efficiency, particularly in the Soldier Readiness Processing Center where hundreds of Soldiers would spend several hours a day. Due to the sheer number of Soldiers being processed through, the potential for extended backlogs was high.
According to Capt. Kristina W. Souza, officer in charge of SRPC operations, the center saw upwards of 400 to 650 Soldiers and contractors a day, peaking at 691.
“It opened our eyes to a lot of chokepoints we hadn’t seen, hadn’t been looking for,” said Souza.
The SRPC wasn’t the only part of the process where finite resources had to be carefully coordinated to support all the mobilizing and demobilizing units processing through Fort Bliss.
Sgt. Jonathan C. Swatman, primary transportation coordinator for the FBMB, explained that the transportation section revamped their routes along with buses and driver allocation to meet the need. The bus missions often exceeded 200 a day.
“We can backwards plan for everything for MFGI expansion by using historical data from the
30th,” said Swatman.
“Mobilizing the 30th ABCT through the Reception of the M-RSO process proved to be a successful, scaled proof of principal for the MFGI expansion mission”, said Roberts. “I’m proud of how Fort Bliss Mobilization Brigade has performed… I expect a smooth onward movement to get them (30th ABCT) where they need to go.”
Col. Robert Bumgardner, Commander, 30th ABCT, marveled at the process of deploying the nearly 4,000 Soldiers of his unit, “It’s a daunting experience being able to mobilize this many Soldiers from four states, the North Carolina, South Carolina, Ohio and West Virginia Army National Guard, but I am proud of the team effort from everyone involved, especially with the partnerships we’ve forged here at Fort Bliss.”