647th RSG conducts RSOI at WAREX
By Maj. Amabilia Payen, 647th RSG Public Affairs:
(El Paso, Texas, April 13, 2017) FORT DIX, New Jersey – The Army has significantly refined the process of deploying a unit to a theater of war since Operation Desert Storm. Soldiers know this process as reception, staging, onward movement and integration, or RSOI. One Army Reserve unit from El Paso makes the RSOI process look smooth and efficient.
The 647th Regional Support Group, exercised RSOI for Warrior Exercise, here, March 21 through April 3. WAREX is a culmination training exercise that includes more than 48 units simulating life on and off a forward operating base in a make-believe war torn country. The 647th RSG war-gamed with all 48 units and conducted its mission in the simulated deployed environment as part of their annual two-week training requirements. The 647th RSG in-processed and out-processed nearly 3,500 troops. These units came from 18 states, from Massachusetts, Kansas and California to name a few.
Lt. Col. William Nelson, deputy commanding officer, 647th RSG, said he believes the RSOI mission is very important to Army operations.
“It’s important we practice these skills,” Nelson said. “We may be called upon to do them as we are here. The more critical part in our unit is the (Tactical Operations Center) operations and working as a unit in the field, which we haven’t had an opportunity to do in the past.”
According to the unit’s organization in personnel and equipment, the 647th RSG is not equipped to do mayor cell operations, which is a small force inside a forward operating base that runs day-to-day activities to sustain life for Soldiers while preparing to move toward the fields of battle, or returning from them, ready to go home.
“Being able to manage a base camp is one aspect of it and it’s good for us,” Nelson said. “All the RSGs (in the Army) serve a critical function and the 647th is no exception. This unit already did their job in theater, and we have had new staff since then. My job is to ensure we are trained so that we are ready to do the same thing next time we are called upon.”
During the 14-day exercise, the unit received a visit from Brig. Gen. Alex Fink, the commanding general of the 4th Expeditionary Sustainment Command, U.S. Army Reserve.
“I call this more so as JRSO (joint reception staging and onward movement) because most likely the unit will be deploying in a joint environment,” Fink said. “It’s critical because this process is how you build combat power and send them forward into the fight. It’s all about building combat power in a theater of war.”
In the case of the 647th RSG, this is a massive responsibility where forces can move forward and face an adversary. Staff Sgt. Alberto Amor conducted mayor cell duties in Afghanistan with the unit and also knows the importance of the training.
“We train here so that we know what to expect,” Amor said. “Not only do we move the force forward, but we also clean up when the mission is done,” referring to the drawdown of Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2009 and 2010.
Amor said he was part of the force ensuring units went home en masse. “Once everyone moved out, it was our job to tear the (FOBs) down, destroy everything that was not needed, and turn in items that could go home,” he said.
So in essence, the RSOI mission is critical to Army operations, from the beginning to the end. With the U.S. Army Reserve being the most capable, combat-ready, and lethal Reserve force in the history of the nation, exercising these tasks are crucial to a unit, and for the commander who ensures his unit is ready to go at a moment’s notice.
“The RSOI and reverse RSOI are both very important missions,” said Col. Craig Cox, commander of the 647th RSG. “For two reasons it’s important. First accountability of personnel, which is primary, and then accountability of equipment. Therefore, the big challenge is numbers. We have to have good communication with commanders to have a solid count.”
Tracking what goes into and out of the areas of war is what Cox deems to be important for the American public to know.
“We want to make sure we are not wasting money and leaving equipment behind,” Cox said. “Tracking all this places an important responsibility on us. In today’s RSOI process, there is a lot of emphasis on tracking numbers. It’s important to do this mission and practice it and tax our resources.”
So imagine yourself as a Soldier, saying goodbye to your family because you are about to board a bus filled with members of your unit. From the bus ride to the airport, to the airport to the country in question, the first place you arrive at is the forward operating base that will ensure you and your unit are ready to move forward towards the front lines of battle. You want a place to eat, sleep, and make a few phone calls back home. The 647th RSG ensures those needs are taken care of for every service member in the military.
Pfc. Raul Hernandez a 647th RSG Soldier who has never deployed, said he now sees the bigger picture of what his mission is with his unit. In the 647th RSG, his military police skills are needed for security in different areas of the FOB.
“It’s a good learning experience to see how it would be like to actually deploy and what to expect out of it,” Hernandez said. “I see how they have the TOC running and how our security is set up.”
Hernandez had a different view before WAREX, and after seeing it in action, he understands how a family member would be worried about a loved one and how important the 647th RSG mission is to family members back home.
“I see how (American) Red Cross messages get done and how we have the chaplain in case they need those services and advice,” Hernandez said. “They can contact back home if they have the free time. We can also ensure they get home.”
After two weeks of pushing troops back to their home states, the 647th RSG finally took all their lessons learned and headed to El Paso.
One lesson that definitely stuck in every Soldier’s mind, was the statement about how the Army Reserve forces still remain the dedicated federal reserve of the most decisive and lethal force in the world. WAREX brought together many Soldiers with different skills, exercised their capabilities and gave them lessons learned so that if they’re called to serve, they can fight and they can win against any threat.
The Soldiers of the 647th RSG understand this and now understand fully how important it is to remain ready at any given moment, to answer the nation’s call.
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