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New focus on reserve training.

Just as the global war on terrorism has caused the U.S. Army Reserve to transform from a strategic to an operational focus in order to meet expeditionary rotational requirements, the Military Surface Deployment and Distribution Command's units now have a global mission focus.

At the forefront of SDDC's effort to zero in on the changing mission and ensure its ultimate success is the re-emphasis on units being trained and equipped to be fully mission capable anywhere in the world 365 days a year.

"The role of the SDDC Reserve Component has changed drastically since 9-11," said Lt. Col. Brian Kane, chief of SDDC Readiness and Mobilization. "Prior to 9-11 our units were sourced to provide support at continental U.S. ports only. We now have reserve units in multiple overseas ports and as far inland as Iraq and Afghanistan providing direct deployment and redeployment support to the Warfighter."

With SDDC units training almost exclusively at their assigned location-- seaport or power projection platform--Kane said unit commanders maintained battle books for those locations, and annual training was predominantly conducted the same time every year at the same locations.

But following 9-11, SDDC officials said it was clear that active and reserve Soldiers needed to be totally compatible if SDDC was to meet its mission. Included in this refocus on reserve training was a concept plan for the establishment of a Deployment Support Command, submitted to the Chief of Army Reserve by SDDC personnel.

"The DSC will provide the reserve and active components one-stop shopping by providing standardized training in today's SDDC," said Lt. Col. Arthur Hedgepeth, deputy director of Training, Readiness and Mobilization.

The DSC will develop a training cycle for all SDDC-aligned units to include Warrior Task Training and SDDC technical training, followed by real-world missions to apply the technical skills and allow the unit to be evaluated on mission readiness.

Hedgepeth explained that this training outcome is a compatible workforce between the reserve and active components. This means beginning the process of providing reserve Soldiers with the same tools (hardware/systems) of their active counterparts and consolidating the Commanding General's Training Guidance into one document, thereby integrating active and reserve component training.

Kane said that also included in the guidance was the establishment of an observer/controller/mentor relationship between the active and reserves that is focused on realistic training to standard that will prepare all SDDC units for their worldwide missions.

"I'm excited," said Maj. Carlos Palacios, a reservist with 332nd Transportation Corps Battalion out of Tampa, Fla., during a recent training at the Port of Beaumont for deployment preparation to Kuwait. Palacios said he thinks it's a great opportunity to get out there and show that reservists and active duty working side by side is doable.

Kane said that even though SDDC continuously monitors the training and readiness status of its units, prior to mobilization and deployment SDDC requests an update to ensure that the unit has the most up-to-date training and systems available.

"We have ensured that the active-duty units are aware of all the experience that our reserve units can bring to the table," Kane said, adding that most of the Soldiers in its reserve units have been in the unit for years and have performed SDDC missions multiple times.

"This is unlike the active units where personnel are rotated every two to three years and the only continuity is the civilian employees," said Kane. "Staff assistance visits and external evaluations are conducted to validate the unit's readiness and identify future training requirements. Reservists train alongside the active component units, forming a partnership that allows each to capitalize on the other's strengths."

"It's a good relationship between the reserves and active duty," Palacios said, explaining that the training intent is to provide Soldiers an idea of how to do operations and ensure that reservists are up to speed with the latest in technology and process. "We don't feel like we're outsiders--we're part of the team."

In addition to mission training opportunities in support of rotational deployments and redeploy-ments related to the Global War on Terror, SDDC supports National Training Center and Joint Readiness Training Center rotations, Sea Emergency Deployment Readiness exercises, Joint Logistics-Over-The-Shore exercises, and virtually all other Combatant Command and Joint sponsored major exercises such as Bright Star.

by Jennifer Sanders

SDDC Headquarters, Fort Eustis
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Author:Sanders, Jennifer
Publication:Translog
Date:Jan 1, 2007
Words:722
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