Story by SGT Christopher Hernandez on 03/13/2019FORT BLISS, Texas Since last month, Soldiers of the 155th Armored Brigade Combat Team, Kansas and Mississippi Army National Guard, began their demobilization process at Fort Bliss, Texas. Coming back from their yearlong mobilization in support of Operation Spartan Shield, the 155th ABCT have been scaling back to the United States through intermittent flight schedules.
For the Army Reserve Soldiers of the 210th Regional Support Group, Aguadilla, Puerto Rico, and their enterprise partners of the Mobilization and Deployment Brigade Fort Bliss Directorate of Plans, Training, Mobilization and Security, the 155th ABCT has been one of their most demanding endeavors. This engagement has not only been the responsibility of the 210th RSG/MaD Brigade and DPTMS, but also that of the 5th Armored Brigade, 1st Armored Division, Fort Bliss Garrison Command, 7251st Medical Support Unit, Tatitlek, Gemini Tech Services, Magnificus Corporation, Sterling Medical Corporation and many other entities.
A critical component of the Mobilization Force Generation Installation (MFGI), the Fort Bliss mobilization division worked assiduously to fulfill the logistical, medical, administrative, and other needs of over 3,500 Soldiers of the 155th ABCT.
"The demobilization process of the 155th ABCT is the largest that the Army Reserve has done in the past 20 years," said Col. Javier Rivera, brigade commander of the 210th RSG. "My goal with the 155th ABCT is to be able to bring a fast, effective deployment process in 8-10 days in order for them to be able to go home to their loved ones."
The 155th ABCT demobilization is the primary line of effort of the 210th RSG/MaD BDE, along with the 1st Battalion, 141st Infantry Regiment demobilization, support for the United States/Mexico border security mission, SRPC operations and MFGI facilities management, Rivera said.
Lt. Col. Jason Nelson, deputy brigade commander for the 155th ABCT, said that the their pre-mobilization phase last year in Fort Bliss, Texas, presented myriad challenges to both the 155th ABCT and the 210th RSG/MaD Brigade.
"We've had some growing pains early on, being the first organic MTOE (Modified Table of Organization and Equipment) brigade to mobilize and demobilize of this size in a really long time," Nelson said. "We were in austere conditions for 90 days, which absolutely strained the brigade's logistics processes and facilities at Fort Bliss. (Therefore), we identified areas of improvement within the infrastructure within Fort Blissand some of those lessons learned have already been worked toward resolutions to the troubles that we identified during our mobilization."
Douglas Vogel, chief of the mobilization branch under DPTMS, said that steadfast vigilance was key in ensuring the success of the 155th ABCT pre-mobilization and ongoing demobilization.
"We made sure that we didn't do any shortcuts, and that we hit all gate requirements for their demobilization process," Vogel said. "We also made sure that we kept the accountability of each individual, and when they all leave, we have 100% accountability of them."
In addition to Vogel's aforementioned point, there were two other keys to success to the entire 155th ABCT pre-mobilization and demobilization processes.
"We need to pay attention to details that may stop a movement, and make sure that everyone is constantly synced to one another," Rivera said. "Sometimes, we'll have more than two or three missions to sync into, and we all have to think like and be on the clock."
Reflecting upon the hurdles of their pre-mobilization phase, the 155th ABCT leadership proactively communicated with the 210th RSG/MaD BDE months prior to their return to Fort Bliss.
"I know that this has been a challenge as far as the mobilization side of it when we first got here," said Master Sgt. Christopher Dingler, the noncommissioned officer in charge of the logistics and supply section of the 155th ABCT. "So, we started talking to the 210th RSG and 5th Armored Brigade back in November 2018, working on some of the plans and what we needed to support in the timelines. So far in our demobilization process, the 210th RSG has done a tremendous job to juggle everything around. We've been supported the whole way so far, and it's been good."
Due to the enormous scale of the 155th ABCT demobilization, it necessitated a larger, more efficient Soldier Readiness Processing Center to better manage the influx of units.
We're re-purposing the old commissary building for the new SRPC, said Col. Stephen Murphy, the Fort Bliss garrison commander. It's a multi-million dollar project that will help streamline the process, making it a one-stop shop for mobilizing and demobilizing units. Our intent is to make it the premier SPRC in this MFGI and the entire U.S. Army.
As the 210th RSG is slated to undergo transfer of authority next month to the 653rd RSG, Mesa, Arizona, the latter unit is poised to contend with an even larger organization than the 155th ABCT. With over 4,200 Soldiers in its ranks, the forthcoming 30th ABCT, North Carolina Army National Guard pre-mobilization through Fort Bliss will be tantamount to the 155th ABCT experiences.
"What I want the 653rd RSG to learn from this process is to pay very close attention to every detail of the mobilization and demobilization process." Rivera said. "We're going to do a very good left seat, right seat' TOA with the 653rd RSG, and we're going to set them up for success."
For all of their efforts, the 155th ABCT leadership has been extremely grateful during the ongoing demobilization.
"Fort Bliss has been very receptive in giving us office space, resources, and accommodating any needs that we have to ensure that we finish what we need to do as a Compo 2 (component two) unit, demobilizing and getting back from Title 10 to Title 32 status," Nelson said. "Having both Kansas and Mississippi participating in the demobilization process, in conjunction with the Fort Bliss (mobilization) enterprise, has been a very positive experience. The entire team has been great in solving problems on the move, and figuring out best practices so we can make the process smoother, faster, and get Soldiers home as quickly as we can."
The final group of the 155th ABCT is scheduled to arrive in March 20, 2019, coinciding with the left seat, right seat' operations between the 210th RSG and the 653rd RSG.
From April 1, 2018 to March 13, 2019, the 210th RSG processed exactly 78,743 demobilizing and mobilizing personnel, to include CONUS Replacement Center and Pre-mobilization Exercise and Training units.
Regardless of which Army Reserve unit and enterprise partners comprise of the mobilization division at any period of time, they will always adhere to the mantra "take care of the troops."
"The biggest thing is taking care of the Soldiers and making sure that the Soldiers are taken care of as they process through, whether they are going into theater or whether they coming back home," Vogel said. "The 210th RSG has been very proactive in this mission, and I hope that the 653d RSG is proactive in taking care of the Soldiers as well."