By Staff Sgt. Scott J. Evans | 4th Infantry Division Public Affairs Office
FORT CARSON, Colo. — It is no secret that Soldiers in the U.S. Army Reserve or National Guard do not get the same level of training repetitions that active-duty Soldiers do. They have responsibilities to their civilian careers as much as they do their military service during drill weekends or annual training.
Because of this, the First Army Division, headquartered at Rock Island Arsenal in Illinois, has a unique responsibility to ensure that Reserve and Guard units are properly trained when the nation calls on them to deploy to, often hostile areas. First Army must ensure it has motivated Soldiers to teach and mentor teams to be effective in combat and be knowledgeable in their respective career fields.
Maj. Gen. Frank W. Tate, the commanding general of First Army Division West at Fort Hood, Texas, held a recruiting event with “Ivy” Soldiers at 4th Infantry Division headquarters at Fort Carson, Colorado, Nov. 1, 2019, to explain some of the opportunities available to candidates interested in serving with First Army Division.
The First Army Division as a fighting force has a long history dating as far back as World War I. In more recent decades however, the division’s primary mission is to ensure the readiness of National Guard and Reserve component units across the nation by preparing them with engaged and rigorous training.
“In the 1950s through the 1970s, we received this new mission to partner with the Guard and Reserve,” Tate said. “The only unit in the Army that is dedicated 24/7 to be partnering with, directing the readiness and capability of the Guard and Reserve because we cannot get along without them. We have structurally built our Army such that 40 percent of our combat units … are in the National Guard, and 60 percent of our combat support and combat service support units are in the Reserve.”
Since the outset of the Global War on Terrorism, First Army Division took a leading role to ensure units were effectively trained to meet and exceed their mission requirements during deployment operations.
“1.2-million Soldiers in the Guard and Reserve have been trained, partnered with, mobilized and demobilized through First Army,” Tate said.
Ensuring the readiness of so many diverse units is a huge undertaking for First Army.
“We’re a team of unique capabilities bonded together with a common purpose — to enable total force readiness,” said Lt. Gen. Thomas S. James Jr., commanding general, First Army via a video presentation. “As U.S. Army Forces Command’s coordinating authority for Army Total Force Policy, we enable America’s fine citizen Soldiers in achieving maximum readiness in deploying as important combatant command requirements, or if required, mobilized for a large-scale contingency.”
During the briefing, Tate explained that Soldiers assigned to First Army frequently travel to the locations where the units are being trained.
“They are making over half our Army, which is the Reserve Component, that much better,” Tate said.
Though the developmental opportunities available to Soldiers through the First Army’s mission has been in existence for decades, many service members are not aware of the opportunities available through serving with First Army.
“It has been a really neat opportunity,” said Capt. Jonerik Livingston, an intelligence officer currently assigned to 5th Armored Brigade, First Army Division West at Fort Bliss, Texas. “I never expected in my first year to go to Kosovo.”
Leaders of First Army Division recognize the skills the U.S. Army Reserve and National Guard Soldiers bring to their units, and why it is important to have talented leaders mentoring them during field exercises.
“You only make the Guard and Reserve better by being a better partner for them,” Tate said. “Our observers, coaches, trainers … if they don’t look, walk and talk like the professionals that they should be then how will anyone in the Guard or Reserve want to look up to them and learn from them?”