CAMP ROBINSON, Ark. – When the First Army commanding general arrived here to speak to National Guard senior leaders, his message was one of Total Force partnership.
"Your success is our mission," said Lt. Gen. Thomas James, Jr. commanding general, First Army. "We are in this together, and at First Army we are solely focused on helping you generate warfighters to ensure you complete your missions."
More than 500 senior leaders of the Total Force gathered at the Professional Education Center in Little Rock, Arkansas, for the Army National Guard's Green Tab Commanders Conference Jan. 4. The conference is designed to provide leader-to-leader exchange and engagement while providing updates on the operational demand, Total Force priorities and readiness solutions driving the future of the Army National Guard.
"We need to be ready for high-intensity multi-domain conflict," said Lt. Gen. Laura J. Richardson, acting commanding general, United States Army Forces Command. "We must be ready with a more lethal joint force."
First Army has historically been an architect of Total Force Policy, dating back to World War I under the command of Gen. John J. Pershing. In 1917 Pershing is quoted as saying, "We no longer differentiate in an ultimate sense between Army, National Guard and Reserve Forces…Our purpose is to think only of the American citizen and to prepare him for the duties of war." This is a message, James said, in which he wholeheartedly believes.
"Pershing was the first commander wearing this patch to realize that a reliance on an integrated, multi-component Total Force is not just the best approach to national defense," said James. "It's the only approach to national defense."
From Gen. Omar Bradley on the USS Augusta watching the events of D-Day unfold, to Korea in 1950, or 2005 in Iraq, James believes at almost every major conflict in our history, First Army has been on the front-lines coordinating Total Force Policy. Since 9/11 First Army has trained and deployed 1.3 million Soldiers to current conflicts.
James said because of that, he fully believes that the First Army mission is the success of others. Instead of defining success as simply marking boxes and sending Soldiers on their way, James said it's all about utilizing the Observer Coach/Trainers of First Army as hubs of information as well as ways to answer questions about the role of a unit in their missions.
"First Army's relationship with our Guard partners should never be as a requirements generator," James said. "We literally exist in order to assist you in achieving excellence."
When it comes to the crux of it, James said, First Army is a force multiplier for the formations of the Army National Guard and Army Reserve. More than half of the formations that make up First Army's Observer/Coach Trainers are reserve-component Soldiers, and First Army's goal is to deepen their relationships with the Guard and Reserve.
Currently, First Army operates with two Mobile Force Generation Installations at Fort Hood and Fort Bliss in Texas. Every National Guard and Reserve component unit must pass through there before deployments. This leads to First Army mobilizing nearly 45,000 Soldiers annually. James said he believes the key to successfully mobilizing these troops is a well-forged partnership with the Reserve components.
"I know that we cannot win a war without the National Guard," said James. "I look forward to working with you, and our formation looks forward to working and strengthening the partnerships we have forged."
James concluded by thanking the leaders in attendance for their service and for helping to enable the Total Force Readiness that makes our Army better and keeps our country safe.