Army Reserve Expeditionary Force (AREF)
The centerpiece of the Army Reserve's change to the future is its expeditionary force packages, an integrated rotational model that grows out of the Army's efforts to transform itself and restructure its forces to remain relevant and responsive in an era of uncertainty and change. The AREF is a force packaging concept that creates force packages. These force packages rotate through five or six years at various levels of readiness from reset/restructure to a period of high readiness and deployment if needed. These packages will provide both readiness and rotational depth for the Army.
The Army Reserve and National Guard support forces are designated as Force support packages (FSP) units, and consist of RC CS and CSS type units. These FSP units support the MCO initial forces and AC combat forces identified in Army Strategic Force Packages 1-2. These early deploying units organize and train based more upon their MCO WARTRACE alignments rather than upon their FSP designation. The FSP units receive greater resourcing based upon their FSP status than do other non-FSP units. The FSP concept will come under revision as the new defense strategy is operationalized in the near future.
Within the Army Reserve, use of the FSP unit model is being replaced by the Army Reserve Expeditionary Packages (AREP) force management model. Army transformation and modularity will determine precisely when the term FSP is discontinued. To sustain the numbers of Army Reserve units and Soldiers needed to meet the continuing requirements of the Global War on Terror, the Army Reserve is implementing the Army Reserve Expeditionary Force (AREF), a dynamic new strategy that changes the force so that we can better mobilize, train and equip Army Reserve units for the fight. Through the use of a five-year rotation cycle, AREF offers increased predictability to Army Reserve Soldiers, their families and employers.
In August 2003, the Army Reserve, building upon the Federal Reserve Restructuring Initiative, and Active component expeditionary structures, began to refine and implement a complementary expeditionary support force concept. The Army Reserve Expeditionary Force (AREF), which itself reflects and complements Active component management models, provides available and ready Army Reserve Soldiers, and synchronizes Army Reserve equipping and training cycles to develop and sustain the readiness of Reserve component forces required to support Active Army formations, readiness, and operations.
Key to the Army Reserve's forward movement is the implementation of the dynamic new force management strategy, the Army Reserve Expeditionary Force (AREF). AREF is the lynchpin of Army Reserve readiness that reflects and complements the Army's Force Generation Model by providing available and ready Army Reserve units. AREF synchronizes equipping and training cycles to sustain the immediate and long-term readiness required to support Army and joint force operations. The expeditionary force allows the Army Reserve, a force of limited size, to sustain a campaign for an extended period.
The Global War on Terror was as much as any other single factor, responsible for the development of the Army's expeditionary force concept and its Army Reserve counterpart, the AREF. The protracted nature of the GWOT as well as the heavy investment in equipment required to carry it out, mandated that certain planning factors had to be addressed for the long term if the war on terror was to be waged successfully. The expeditionary force concept is a solution to that problem. It allows a force of limited size to sustain a campaign for a long, if not indefinite period, by cycling its limited, though renewable, assets and resources through a synchronized, progressive, and focused schedule of deployments, engagements, and regeneration, refit, and retraining to achieve serial, selective readiness.
The Army Reserve Expeditionary Force (AREF) synchronizes Army Reserve structures, programs, and operations to sustain responsive, effective and available support of the Army mission. The AREF is a major institutional response to the changing nature of war, and a significant departure from historical Army mobilization and management models that had not contemplated sustained Reserve deployments as an essential feature of military campaigns. It supports the Army's concept of modularity, and the brigade combat teams that are organized under that concept to be more readily deployable and more capable of meeting combatant commanders' needs. The AREF is intended to make the Army Reserve's provision of campaign quality combat support and combat service support forces to the combatant commanders more sustainable.
The Army Reserve Expeditionary Force allows the Army Reserve to restructure to be the agile, adaptive and rotationally based force that the Army and joint forces need. The majority of Army Reserve units would be assigned to one of 10 proposed AREF packages. Two AREF packages would be prepared to support potential deployments each year. The Army National Guard will have a similar training cycle, except it is based on a six-year cycle.
The first year stresses the development of individual skills. In the second year, units would focus on small-unit collective training and building the team. Training during the third year would focus on unit collective tasks, and the year would culminate with a large-unit warrior exercise. Year four would build on the third year training and train on any other skills that need refining, he said. The units would go to the National Training Center or Joint Readiness Training Center to be validated on deployment skills. If national training centers weren't available, installations, such as Fort McCoy, would be available to provide the training. In year five, units would be ready to deploy. The training cycle would provide team building throughout the training.
In Year Five, the unit is in a refit, reconstitute, reset mode for individual training, retirements, reassignments, etc. It then moves into Year Four, where it begins training the unit at a smaller level. In Years Three and Two, commanders begin to set the unit, validating it at the highest level of organization. Finally, in Year One, the unit trains to sustain itself at the highest readiness levels. It is resourced to that level and it must be prepared to mobilize with 5 days of initial notification. If a Soldier doesn't get mobilized during the year they are in Package One, then they go to the back of the pack and start the five year cycle all over again.
Under AREF, resources, such as equipment, are aligned according to where units are in the rotation cycle. In conjunction with the new AREF strategy, the Army Reserve is also implementing a new equipping strategy that is synchronized with the AREF. As units progress through each year of the five-year cycle, their state of readiness increases. Units in Year One, those ready to deploy, are at the highest level of readiness. Units in Year Five, those reconstituting from a deployment, are at the lowest level. In Year Two, the year prior to deployment, units receive full complements of modernized equipment compatible with AC equipment. This influx of equipment allows Army Reserve units to train up on their go-to-war systems prior to mobilization and deployment. This way, the Army locates the equipment where it is needed the most - going with the units heading for deployment.
By cycling limited though renewable assets and resources through a synchronized, progressive and focused schedule of deployments, AREF enables the Army Reserve to achieve serial, selective and managed readiness. These force-generation changes parallel similar major initiatives currently under way throughout the Army. Army Reserve Expeditionary Force packages provide predictability to Soldiers, their families and employers, as well as the combatant commanders. This rotational capability focuses resources on the units most likely to deploy first.
This does not mean that Soldiers can't be obilized somewhere else in the cycle. But the goal of the model is to have predictable readiness. Units will be equipped based on the five-year deployment cycle, allowing the Army to pre-position more vehicles and equipment in operational areas, rather than having them tied up in training missions. The goal is to achieve the modularity that is the Army-wide goal. This means there will be a major redesign at a lot of Reserve Component command levels.
In a steady state, each Army Reserve expeditionary package has a planned activation period of 270 days to capitalize on the Presidential Reserve call-up with 6-7 months' "boots on the ground." The goal is a package rotation of one deployment in five years. Single-package availability to the combatant commands is sustainable over an indefinite period of time. In a surge state, the Army Reserve can make available up to 4 packages (roughly 40 percent of the force) for a limited period. Based on surveys from both in-theater and recently returned Soldiers, the Army Reserve believes this new strategy is sustainable over the long term.
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