FORT POLK — In 2006, in response to the growing demand for ground forces to meet operations in Afghanistan, Iraq and other parts of the world, the Army implemented a new force generation construct call Army Force Generation, or ARFORGEN.

The goal of ARFORGEN was to help units achieve progressive levels of readiness with recurring periods of availability as they progressed through three distinctive force pools: Reset; Train/Ready; and Available.

In 2014, as the United States began to decrease troop levels in Iraq and Afghanistan and focus more on threats from Russia, China, North Korea and Iran, the Army determined ARFORGEN was no longer an adequate readiness model and began implementing the Sustainable Readiness Model.

The Army’s goal under SRM is to achieve two-thirds combat readiness for global contingencies for the total Army by 2023. Under SRM there are three descriptive modules: Mission; Ready; and Prepare.

But what does that mean for units like Fort Polk’s 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division, fresh from a deployment to Iraq as it linked up with units that did not deploy and its rear detachment?

Command Sgt. Maj. Kenneth Franco, 3rd BCT, 10th Mtn Div command sergeant major, said merging the units was a big challenge.

“Everyone was coming in from three different locations into one,” Franco said. “It was a challenge going into reset, and starting the training progression from individual training culminating into company live fire, which we recently completed, wrapping up into Ready Now.”

Ready Now was the Forces Command training guidance for fiscal year 2018, focusing on the command’s goal to train and prepare a combat ready, globally responsive total force to meet the requirements of military combatant commanders, emphasizing the need for sustainable readiness.

Franco said the up tempo pace of training coming so quickly after a deployment takes some getting used to, but the unit’s Soldiers are up to the task.

“I think our Soldiers are motivated, and most of them understand why we have to do what we do and what it takes to get a unit ready,” Franco said. “The biggest thing is communicating the why, and the leadership does a pretty good job explaining to their Soldiers why we do this. As long as we continue to do that, and our Soldiers understand the challenges, then we’ll execute. There is too much world and not enough Army, so we just have to be ready.”

Franco said units Army-wide face the same challenges under the SRM.

“We don’t have much time for rest,” he said. “There’s going to be a short timeline from individual to collective training, to deploying and redeploying, and starting all over again.”

Franco said SRM’s intent is for units to maintain a certain percentage of readiness throughout the deployment, after redeployment then preparing to deploy again.

“Obviously there are challenges moving to a sustainable readiness model, but the leadership and staff prepared us for Ready Now,” he said.

“It comes down to our junior leaders understanding why and the brigade commander has a pretty clear message about what the brigade has to do. I think it’s been translated all the way down to our junior leaders. Keeping that commander’s intent is critical to how our young leaders execute. As long as we’re all on the same page we’ll be OK.”

Capt. Dan Emery, 3rd BCT, 10th Mtn Div plans officer and brigade engineer said preparations began while the unit was deployed to Iraq.

“We wanted to make sure that when we merged rear detachment and forward, that we were synchronized and close to the same level of training,” Emery said. “We trained both in Iraq — focusing on the basic training requirements at the individual level — and the rear detachment was doing the same. We refined the plan the closer we got to execution, so when we merged we were able to pick up where we left off as one unit.”

Emery said the big push with the Ready Now campaign was to do well without wasting time.

“We did not want to start from ground zero during redeployment reset,” Emery said. “Now that we are in the Sustainable Readiness Model, instead of the ARFORGEN, we have to maintain a level of readiness at all times.”

Emery said once the brigade’s unit merged and completed its’ post deployment leave, the training began in earnest.

“We hit the ground running with training,” he said. “We moved from squad STX (situational training exercise), to squad live fire, to platoon STX and live fire, and that culminated in a fire support coordination exercise in early September, and the brigade CALFEX (Combined Arms Live Fire Exercise) we just completed in late September. That got us to the readiness status we wanted to achieve by the end of the fiscal year.”

The CALFEX, held Sept. 14-23, was a series of rigorous exercise lanes that tested Soldiers on teamwork, warrior skills and competence in executing Mission Essential Tasks, and focused on company-level proficiency and synchronization with combat enablers. Developed to test how quickly and efficiently an infantry brigade could achieve high states of readiness after a recent deployment, the CALFEX validated the brigade’s ability to provide capability ahead of schedule, meet the Chief of Staff of the Army’s No. 1 priority — readiness — and respond to any threat worldwide on a moment’s notice.

Emery said the brigade is where leadership wants it to be, but the focus must continue to be on training.

“Now we’re getting back to individual training and skills, and the emphasis is on preparing for the EIB (Expert Infantryman Badge),” Emery said. “We’re still looking at what the end state for this year’s brigade training plan looks like, looking at key milestones and how we get to those milestones.

“We’ve got Mountain Peak (at Fort Drum, New York) and the JRTC (Joint Readiness Training Center) rotation, so it’s all backwards planning from there. There are requirements that have to be met before those exercises. We’re in a new quarter now, so we have quarterly requirements, then semi-annual and finally annual requirements.”

Emery said it will be important for leaders to have a balance between the training cycle and rest cycle.

“It goes back to what ARFORGEN looks like compared to sustainable readiness,” he said. “The whole purpose of the Sustainable Readiness Model is being able to train every day, but not lose energy. To do that is where the art is. This is a very new model. Every brigade in the Army is continuing to define what that looks like and what works for that unit.”

For the 3rd BCT’s company commanders, there are new issues to face. Capt. Byron Adkins, commander, Charlie Troop, 3rd Squadron, 89th Cavalry Regiment, 3rd BCT, 10th Mtn Div, said an issue he faced was one of “messaging” to Soldiers and Family members.

“Typically, when returning from a deployment, Families expect their Soldiers to be home, not working long hours for a substantial amount of time,” he said. “We had to make sure Soldiers and Families were getting the message in the right places so Families are aware and you save yourself some angst.”

Adkins said that while his Soldiers had hope for more time off after the deployment, they understood their requirements under SRM.

“Our Soldiers are professional and understand where this is coming from, and why the mission looks like it does,” he said.

“I think as members of the all-volunteer Army, there is a sense of pride, they know they asked to be here, so they’re going to take everything they’ve been handed and do the best they can with it.”

The end result was the Patriot Brigade answering the Army’s call to be “Ready Now,” said Col. Kendall J. Clarke, commander, 3rd BCT, 10th Mtn Div.

“It was a daunting task balancing redeployment, reset and getting our units trained to the sustainable readiness model,” Clarke said. “However, our Soldiers met this challenge head-on, and what they have accomplished over the past two months cannot be overstated. “These Soldiers understand the importance of being able to react to any global contingency. They are true professionals and I am proud to lead them.”