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Training Support Brigades

A Training Support Brigade [TSB] is a tri-component [Active, Guard and Reserve] organization charged with supporting Reserve Component [Guard and Reserve] units in a specified Area of Responsibility. There are 18 TSBs in the Army's structure, providing one-stop training support for customer units. This concept consolidates the numerous layers of support provided in the past by Readiness groups, Regional Training Brigades and Detachments, and several other organizations. Each TSB is composed of several battalions. Some are pure Active Component, some are integrated AC/RC, and one is an eSBn which is collocated with, and supports only, a designated Enhanced Brigade.

During Operation Desert Storm the Army discovered its inability to deploy the Roundout Brigades. This was a shared problem between the Active Component (AC) and Reserve Component (RC). Annual training reports showed that they were combat ready. The AC units had not focused on training with their associated RC unit. Congress took action to correct this by passing the Defense Appropriation Acts of 1992 and 1993.

Congress directed a realignment of the AC support to the RC with a focus on selected high priority RC units: Force Support Package 1 and 2 units (FSP1, FSP2); Enhanced Brigades (eSB); and Units with latest arrival dates (LAD) of 30 days or less. Residual capability will be provided to all other Combat Arms (CA) and Combat Support (CS) units. Functional assistance and Mobile Training Teams (MTT) to all other units as resources permit. The Defense Appropriation Acts of 1992 and 1993 dedicated 5,000 experienced Active Component soldiers. All captains must be branch qualified and all NCOs must have recent troop experience.

In 1992-1993 Task Force FAST organized TASS under the regional schools concept. The task force divided the continental United States (CONUS) into seven geographical regions. Each region had six colleges (brigades) to oversee instruction in leadership, officer education, health services, combat arms, combat support, and combat service support. Below the college-level the task force placed departments (school battalions). Each school battalion was aligned with an active component school and was responsible for providing instruction in a particular career management field. For example, the US Army Field Artillery School (USAFAS) was aligned with field artillery school battalions in each region.

The TSB is the centerpiece of support to high priority RC units. The TSB is the single point of contact for training. RC units can still use their AC associated unit for training assistance, but if it occurs during Annual Training (AT) it must be coordinated through the TSB. The TSB is "One stop shopping for organizational training support" for all RC units in their Areas of Responsibility (AOR). The TSB determines unit priority and provides support within its capability. The TSB brokers slice support with a Field Exercise Brigade (FEB) or another TSB. The TSB sends requests to Continental United States Army (CONUSA). This concept takes the burden off of the Table of Organization and Equipment (TOE) AC force and allows them to concentrate on their wartime mission.

Platoon OC\Ts are responsible for the training platoon level collective tasks. They also are responsible for TRAIN THE TRAINER at the platoon leader, platoon sergeant, and squad leader positions. They must be conversant in and able to think like a platoon leader and always be flexible. Company OC\Ts are responsible for the training company level collective tasks. They are responsible for TRAIN THE TRAINER at the company commander, first sergeant, and operations sergeant positions. They must also be conversant in doctrine and always be flexible. Headquarters OC\Ts are responsible for training battalion level collective tasks and battle tasks. They are responsible for TRAIN THE TRAINER at the battalion commander, battalion CSM, S-3 OIC/NCOIC, and S-4 OIC/NCOIC positions. They must also be conversant in doctrine and integration of engineer battalions into a brigade combat team ... and always be flexible.

Beginning in 1999 the separate Training Support Brigades began to reorganize to provide a Tri-Component structure (Active, Reserve and National Guard) for training support assistance and evaluations. The new units are consolidated with the line Brigades of existing Training Support Divisions, and assume the line unit's designations. As of early 2002 this process of consolidation was incomplete.

Although designated "Brigades" these units typically have about 250 officers and NCOs assigned, which is a small fraction of the several thousand troops normally associated with combat Brigades.

Today's Army, at its lowest force structure size since World War II, faces a multitude of challenges in the 21st century. Those challenges have significantly increased the dependence of the Active Component (AC) on Reserve Component (RC) forces to fulfill the numerous mission and operational support requirements placed on it. The vehicle Army leaders have designed to build the bridge of trust and respect between the active and reserve components is the Training Support XXI initiative.

The previous training support structure evolved piecemeal over 20 years, resided in multiple chains of command and was hard to coordinate and focus. Most important, RC commanders were required to deal with a host of different organizations to obtain support for training. Due to operational tempo challenges, support from active divisions was often accomplished by a wide variety of units. It was extremely difficult to achieve consistent partnerships at battalion and brigade level.

Readiness Groups were formed as part of a series of major Department of the Army actions designed to modernize, reorient and streamline the Army's organization within the Continental United States. On Jan. 11, 1973, Readiness Groups were established as active-component organizations with the mission to assist, teach and improve the readiness posture of reserve-component units assigned to them. On Oct. 2, 1997, Readiness Groups were redesignated as Training Support Brigades. Merging Readiness Groups with Regional Training Brigades formed the brigades. The restructuring was designed to meet the Army's changing needs for the 21st Century by ensuring the readiness of the reserve components to meet the Army's worldwide missions

Training Support XXI (TS XXI) has changed the training support provided to Army National Guard (ARNG) and Army Reserve (USAR) units and soldiers. Implemented in October 1999, TS XXI is designed to employ the Combat Training Center (CTC) training model at platoon and company levels while building support organizations focused solely on training and training support. The initiative increases efficiency in the use of scarce training resources and maximizes the training benefit to the RC forces.

The new structure fields an organization specifically designed to accomplish training support. A training support brigade (TSB) commander owns the structure to support most units in his area of operations. This organization provides RC commanders one-stop shopping for all their training support needs. The TSB commander controls the structure providing the support, so the agreements can be made at the lowest possible level. At the heart of the TS XXI structure is the Training Support Brigade (TSB). The function and responsibilities of the TSBs include:

  • Planning, executing, and evaluating Combat Arms/Combat Support/Combat Service Support lane training
  • Execute Training Assessment Model unit evaluations
  • Train and evaluate technical competence and tactical proficiency to ensure mobilizing RC units are qualified and ready for combat

The TSB is designed and staffed to function as an "operations group", similar to the National Training Center (NTC) or the Joint Readiness Training Center (JRTC). The TSB is composed of battalions, which are really observer/controller (OC) packages like those at a combat training center (CTC). Its mission is to provide CTC-quality lanes and training support at platoon and company level to the ARNG and the USAR. In essence, TSB provides at platoon and company level what the CTCs provide at battalion and brigade level -- enhanced leader development and unit proficiency. The application of these same principles to RC platoon and company training will prove dynamic as well. The TSBs are mobile and deployable with the capability to bring lane training to RC units at their home training area. The CTC-experience level in the TSBs is significant with numerous NTC and JRTC rotations throughout each brigade. Reserve Component units have their own Observer-Controller/Trainer (OC/T) package during each exercise to optimize the feedback process.

The new structure also has the potential to make training more realistic. It can provide the exercise control structure to help administer an exercise so the player unit headquarters can concentrate on its own mission essential tasks. This exercise control structure can also account for training tasks that every unit should perform during the exercise. If the task is not occurring naturally, the control structure has the resources to generate the event at the right time and place. Essentially, the TSB can replicate true battlefield geometry using integrated lanes and have each unit function where it naturally would on the battlefield. Each unit can have its own OC package that will remain throughout the exercise to optimize the feedback process. To address the ARNG's most critical training asset -- time -- commanders must prioritize and limit the number of tasks they conduct at all echelons. Fewer tasks conducted to standard at each echelon will provide the entire command a base of skills from which to expand in post mobilization training. To manage this task based training strategy, we must use the training principles contained in FM 25-100/101 -- these principles are the foundation for all training.

Of particular importance to commanders, when considering the principles addressed in FM 25-100/101, is the use of multi-echelon training. By the application of multi-echelon training, commanders will maximize their limited resources, develop unit leaders, and get the most out of their pre-mobilization (pre-mob) training strategy. Multi-echelon training needs to cross all simulation environments -- live, constructive, and virtual -- and become integrated into unit individual and collectives pre-and post-mobilization (post-mob) training strategies.

The training continuum

Sustaining required operations within the "Band of Excellence" is the key to unit readiness. In the preceding graphic, the "Band of Excellence" contains the prioritized individual and collective tasks that a unit is required to train to a "T" or "P" standard during pre-mob. There is a defined relationship between the width of the training band in pre-mob and the training time required in post-mob for deployment. As an example, for a Combat Service Support (CSS) Force Support Package One (FSP I) unit, the pre-mob training band of excellence will be larger to allow many more individual and collective tasks to be trained thereby decreasing the unit's post-mob deployment time. What this in fact means, is the unit has a structured training program with little room for deviation and even less room for error when conducting collective training. The result of this focused pre-mob training is a unit that spends a proportionately larger time in post-mob focusing on the Theater Command in Chief's (CINC's) requirements for deployment.

The ARNG considers a four year training strategy to be the base for all units. The exception to this policy is the training strategy for heavy and light Enhanced Brigades (EBs). For EBs, two four year strategies are lined together to synchronize a training cycle which culminates in a live Combat Training Center (CTC) rotation -- either at the National Training Center (NTC) or at the Joint Readiness Training Center (JRTC).

For all units, year one of the four year program should be considered an institutional training year. A unit can use this year to address DMOSQ shortages by sending a larger proportion of soldiers to school in an Annual Training (AT) status. Institutional training remains a requirement for years two, three, and four; however, the need to integrate collective training becomes a priority. The ARNG views the fourth year as the "live culmination year." The unit's individual and collective training strategies are devoted to this end. This four year training philosophy pertains to all units. The graphic below is an example of how an enhanced brigade prepares for an NTC rotation by linking two four year training strategies into an eight year training cycle.

During the first four years, the unit plans individual and collective training focusing on the fourth year, a CTC-like or CTC Synthetic Theater of War (STOW) experience. During years one through three, the unit develops an aggressive individual training program while evolving collective training past the platoon level. An Enhanced - Annual Training (E-AT) is conducted each year using the associated ARNG Division as an Opposing Force (OPFOR). E-ATs will focus on platoon and company lane-training. The respective Ground Force Readiness Enhancement (GFRE) Regional Training Brigade (RTB) will provide the training lane and the active component (AC) associated unit will complete the Training Assessment Module (TAM).

By the start of year two, each brigade should plan on training with the troop-listed units it will take with it to either the National Training Center (NTC) or Joint Readiness Training Center (JRTC). The habitual training relationship, called Base Clustering, continues throughout the eight year cycle. Base Clustering provides the Enhanced Brigade with the correct resource mix. This enables proper development of command relationships. NGB will assist in the planning, programming and coordinating all brigade Base Clusters.

Year four is the unit's azimuth check -- the culmination of the first three years -- collective training at the company level with battalion and brigade battle staff integration. Executing this highly demanding set of battle tasks will be done in a combination of environments - live, virtual and constructive and may even be done in a location other than the units' normal AT site.

The second four year program set is focused on a live simulation - NTC or JRTC. Individual training remains paramount. Recruiting and retention are key. But the unit's focus must be on collective training at the company level with battalion and brigade battle staff integration. Year six of the eight year training cycle is the unit's validation year. At the conclusion of year six, normally after AT, the active component (AC) division or corps associated commander will determine the unit's capability to accomplish training at either the NTC or JRTC. Validation criteria can be found in the most current edition of ARNG/FORSCOM Regulation 350-2.

Combat training center enhanced brigade training program

Throughout this eight year training cycle, the unit experiences some form of Synthetic Theater of War or STOW training. This accomplished by linking two or more type environments together thus allowing the battalion and brigade battle staff to be exercised. In addition to the STOW environment, brigade and battalion battle staffs receive training using the Battle Command Training Program (BCTP), the Brigade Command Battle Staff Training Program (BCBST), or Brigade Command Staff Training (BCST) program -- a USAR staff training event.

Company and platoon lane training is sustained using a combination of Ground Force Readiness Enhancement (GFRE) Regional Training Brigade (RTB) expertise and the "Pile-On" weekend concept -- a concept developed by the Department of the Army Research and Projects Agency (DARPA) Simulations in Training for Advanced Readiness (SIMITAR) project that promotes technological integration between soldier and TADSS.

Collective training, pile on weekend and annual training

The sample weekend IDT schedule above provides each platoon with gunnery, maneuver, and maintenance training time based on the company commander's assessment of what each platoon needs.

Pile-On methodology compresses time to allow more tasks to be conducted or repeated in a given period. By leveraging TADSS, the unit requires less time to draw, clean, and turn-in equipment using devices than it would to conduct the same tasks using TO&E equipment for live training. The time saved is used for task repetition which should improve skills.

The Pile On approach requires resources consolidated in a single location. Soldiers can quickly move from event to event with hands-on training support and devices in place to support their efforts. An analogy to Pile-On training is the massing of Battlefield Operating Systems at a point in time to create a synergistic effect on an identified target. The massed synergism of combined systems, focused on a specific threat at a point in time, create a greater effect than would the sum of their individual effects measured one system at a time. Pile-On training is the ARNG standard during Individual Duty for Training (IDT) weekends.



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