Postmobilization Training of National Guard Combat Units

by Thomas F. Lippiatt

Research Brief

In the future, major conflicts will require substantial force elements from U.S. reserve forces, potentially including the combat brigades in the Army National Guard (ARNG). These ARNG units will not be ready instantly; they will need postmobilization training before deploying to a wartime theater. However, in wartime the most likely sources of training and support—active combat units—will themselves be deploying to war as quickly as possible. This situation prompts questions about what training resources the ARNG brigades would need, where they would come from, and how long the training would take. The Army asked RAND's Arroyo Center to analyze the process and the resources—sites, training and support personnel, and opposing forces—needed to prepare the seven enhanced heavy National Guard brigades for deployment.

Training Events and Timelines

Table 1. Postmobilization Training Events

Stage Events Days
1 Mobilization, POM,a movement to training area 12
2 Individual training 5
3 Gunnery, live fire exercises, platoon drills, lanes 33
4 Task organization, company team operations 17
5 Battalion task force and brigade operations 25
6 Recovery, equipment maintenance, preparation for loading 10
Total 102

aPreparation for overseas movement.

To analyze the postmobilization process, Arroyo Center researchers developed a detailed training model for a single brigade and its support elements. As summarized in Table 1, the model contains the training events necessary to prepare an ARNG heavy enhanced brigade to engage in combat shortly after deployment, the most demanding of a range of possible missions.

The model patterns itself on the active force by incorporating the same training that active units undergo in preparing for combat. The objective was to ready the units in the shortest possible time. Therefore, the detailed schedules assume many simultaneous events, with different elements of the brigade training in parallel.

The model requires 102 days to execute. It posits a fairly intense field training schedule occupying about 80 days but also includes time for preparation and maintenance. This scheduling entails some risk: If a brigade were not ready to proceed at this pace, or if the Army had trouble assembling all the trainers and resources to execute the plan, it would take more time to produce a trained brigade.

Premobilization Conditions

The model rests on several assumptions, some that may be optimistic, about the conditions that would be met at the time of mobilization. The key assumptions are these:

  • The brigade will be C-1 in equipment and personnel within 18 days of mobilization.
  • It will have achieved peacetime training levels reached by the better ARNG combat brigades during the 1990s.
  • Trainers and opposing forces (OPFOR) will be organized and ready to begin training within days after the brigade arrives at the training site.
  • The Army logistics system can provide spare parts and supplies for the full postmobilization program.

Each of the above assumptions could be invalidated in practice. For example, the model requires a substantial inventory of spare parts and ammunition to sustain the intensive training. These resources will be required at a time when other, higher-priority units are also preparing for deployment. Should the Army not be able to accommodate the surge in demand, more time would be required to train the brigades.


Table 2. Personnel Requirement for Three Brigade and Three Gunnery Sites

Type of Personnel Active Reserve Total
Trainers and training management 2,310 - 2,310
Training support
Lanes and ranges 26 688 714
Field support to trainers - 198 198
Installation augmentation - 7,809 7,809
OPFOR 4,000 11,372 15,372
Total 6,336 20,067 26,403

The analysis considered several alternative configurations of geographic sites with different flows of units through them. The alternative that generates enhanced brigades soonest was one with three brigade-level training sites, supplemented by three lower-echelon gunnery training sites operating in parallel. The Army has enough sites and resources to support this alternative. There are some trainer shortfalls, but they are small enough that expedited individual replacement mechanisms could fill the gaps.

Although it is possible to operate three brigade-level sites, the resource bill is substantial, as Table 2 shows. To conduct training at the six sites takes over 26,000 people, some 20,000 of whom must be mobilized from the Reserve Components.

In general, the trainers and training management personnel would come from active component sources, such as trainers at the National Training Center and active-duty personnel who support Reserve Component training during peacetime. Training support, installation augmentation personnel, and about two-thirds of the OPFOR are drawn from Reserve Component units. The remaining OPFOR comes from the regular OPFOR unit at the National Training Center.

Force Generation Rates

Operating three brigade sites with three gunnery training sites generates three trained brigades in 102 days and a total of six by 156 days. Operating fewer sites generates trained units more slowly, but it requires fewer pre- and postmobilization resources and invites less risk. Operating one brigade site at the National Training Center with two company training sites produces the first brigade in 110 days, three brigades in 172 days, and six in 262. Two brigade sites with two gunnery training sites can deliver two brigades in 102 days, four and six brigades in 159 and 226 days respectively. It is not feasible to operate more than three brigade-level sites, because there are not enough personnel available to support training.

Deciding how many sites to operate will require policymakers to make tradeoffs among three factors: risk, resources, and force generation rates. Risk refers to training quality and timelines. As more sites are staffed, it becomes more difficult to meet the training model's assumptions, the available pool of experienced trainers spreads more thinly across sites, and the quality of training is more likely to decline. Also, as training expertise is stretched across more sites, the chances increase that problems will arise. The training model contains little margin for delay, and any significant problems could interrupt the schedule, slowing the force generation rate. Obviously, the more sites operated, the more resources that are required, but trained units can be produced faster.

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