For the past several months, organizations across Fort Leonard Wood have been preparing to support an increase to the installation’s fiscal year 2017 Basic Combat Training mission.
The Army announced in March that its troop levels for FY17 will increase to 1.018 million Soldiers, a net gain of 28,000 Soldiers across the Total Force — Regular Army, National Guard and Army Reserve.
As a result, Fort Leonard Wood’s BCT mission for FY17 is expected to increase by about 4,500 Soldiers. Plans are also ongoing to activate one BCT battalion and eight companies to train the additional Soldiers, according to Capt. Jason Pavlik, Maneuver Support Center of Excellence G-33 support operations officer.
The first activation ceremony is for the 2nd Battalion, 48th Infantry Regiment and is set for 11 a.m., June 16 on Gammon Field. The battalion’s first company is scheduled to start training the week of July 3, Pavlik said.
To prepare for this increase, representatives from various directorates and staff sections within the MSCoE, Fort Leonard Wood Garrison and enterprise partners, have been meeting regularly as part of a working group to manage tasks and functions associated with supporting the additional Soldiers and units.
Joe Rapone, Directorate of Plans, Training, Mobilization and Security director, is the lead for the working group and has been overseeing the meetings. He said the working group has been an essential part of the planning process for the BCT mission increase because “the size and short-fuse timeline required formal integration and synchronization.”
For instance, Rapone said, preparing a barracks for BCT involves more than just maintenance and repairs.
“Bringing on a barracks, many may think it’s just fixing windows and replacing floors, but you have phones, (network) drops, alarms, furniture and linen, just to name a few,” he said. “It’s all aspects of that building.”
Eighteen buildings have been identified to support the BCT mission increase, and, according to Brian Nelson, Directorate of Public Works Business Operations and Integration Division chief, the major work on those facilities involved replacing floors, fixing heating and air conditioning systems, and painting.
Network services and other systems are typically installed after DPW completes its work on buildings, but Nelson said due to the working group, those installations happened simultaneously with the facilities’ maintenance and repairs.
“The working group allowed us to have all the players from the different organizations work together to identify what needed to be done to get those facilities up and ready,” Nelson said. “Then we included all the various systems, such as phones and networks, into our projects and knocked them out.”
The working group, Nelson said, helped the process.
“We worked as a team, and if we didn’t have that coordination, we would have been in a world of hurt getting the facilities up and ready,” he said. “The working group was definitely needed.”
In addition to facility maintenance and repair, the group has also been tracking other requirements, such as the status of equipment, ranges and training schedules, logistical support, transportation and in-processing for personnel.
About 175 Soldiers with the Army Reserve’s 108th Training Command are expected to in-process as part of the increase, Pavlik said. Those Soldiers volunteered to support a yearlong mission to train the additional BCT Soldiers here, and many have already visited the post’s Directorate of Human Resources.
“Forty-one of those Soldiers started in-processing May 29 and then attended Arrive Strong on June 1,” said Jesse French, DHR program manager.
According to French, Arrive Strong is a weekly orientation for newly arrived service members and dependents where subject matter experts from various organizations provide information on services and facilities offered on post.
“Arrive Strong allows Soldiers to know exactly what kind of programs we offer and what we do,” he said. “It is a way to welcome Soldiers and their Families to the installation.”
The remaining Soldiers with the 108th are expected to arrive throughout the summer, with the next group arriving the week of June 26, Pavlik said.
(Information provided by Tiffany Wood, Public Affairs director.)