DEPARTMENT OF THE ARMY
XVIII AIRBORNE CORPS
FORT BRAGG, NORTH CAROLINA
US ARMY CENTER OF MILITARY HISTORY
WASHINGTON, D. C.
OPERATIONS DESERT SHIELD AND DESERT STORM
Oral History Interview
DSIT AE 105
COL Marvin Wood
National Guard Liaison Officer
Fort Bragg Mobilization Center
Interview Conducted 31 May 1991 at the Mobilization Center, Fort Bragg, North Carolina
Interviewer: MAJ Dennis P. Levin (130th Military History Detachment)
OPERATIONS DESERT SHIELD AND DESERT STORM
7 August 1990 - 15 May 1991
Oral History Interview DSIT AE 105
MAJ LEVIN: This is the 31st of May, . This tape is unclassified. It's an oral history by [MAJ Dennis P. Levin, commander of] the 130th Military History Detachment. This afternoon we are interviewing ...
COL WOOD: COL ... I'm COL Marvin Wood. I'm a National Guard Liaison Officer for the North Carolina National Guard currently assigned to DICS, Fort Bragg.
MAJ LEVIN: Sir, could you describe the early mobilization process, what was taking place back in late August and early September [of 1990] as the Corps was moving out and the division was moving out and reserve components were being called?
COL WOOD: During that time frame when Fort Bragg was learning that it was going to receive thousands of National Guard and Army Reserve individuals mobilizing at this post, all of the support package for Fort Bragg--the XVIII Airborne Corps support elements, the COSCOM [1st Support Command (Corps)] troops--those people who were identified in the XVIII Corps mobilization SOP [Standing Operating Procedure] were in the process of leaving Fort Bragg. And that left COL Elmore, MG [William] Roosma, COL [Ron] Clegg, [and] RG [Readiness Group] Bragg here with the job of mobilizing these thousands of people and 102 units without any resources to do that, with a limited amount of resources.
The staff of the Womack [Army] Hospital had a tremendous overturn of their personnel. All the medical resources left, yet they still had the requirement to support the dependents that were left here at home. And also to support the mobilization effort that was taking place with 65 percent or 70 percent less professional people to do this.
MAJ LEVIN: Had this been anticipated?
COL WOOD: No, I don't think so. They had a plan that a medical unit was to come in to Fort Bragg and augment Womack. But you have to mobilize them, bring them in the post to run them through the process, i.e., the physicals and the IDEPs [?], the same process as anybody else. And while they were going through that process, they are, in fact, part of the problem--until such time as you've given them to the job, get them settled down and get the normal day-to-day activities lined up, everybody knowing exactly what their job is. So there was a lead time there of at least two months while you're training everybody on board. As a result of that, COL Elmore and the people I just listed earlier had their work cut out. They, as a bottom line, customized, if you will, the mobilization support package for Fort Bragg and the XVIII Corps. They found a requirement or something, a resource they needed to help the mobilization process along. Then they had to go out and find it, where was it at?
MAJ LEVIN: These units weren't pre-designated to come in?
COL WOOD: No, they were not.
MAJ LEVIN: So the original mobilization plan did not include a base support?
COL WOOD: The original Fort Bragg mobilization plan, as I understand it, identified a base support package that was never mobilized at Fort Bragg.
MAJ LEVIN: Were these Individual Ready Reservists or were they units?
COL WOOD: They were Army Reserves and National Guard units that were supposed to come here to provide the--that's in the event of a full mobilization. A full mobilization never took place, so they never mobilized the package to come in here and run the base in the event of a partial mobilization. So that's where our problem took place. Even though all of XVIII Corps left from Fort Bragg--to include the 82d Airborne [Division] and the 1st COSCOM, and the [XVIII Airborne] Corps Artillery--and all these people in transportation that were supposed to provide the base support for the mobilizing units at Bragg, even though it wasn't a full mobilization those people still left. And they left much earlier than what the mobilization plan would have called for, a normal mobilization.
So that left the DRC [Directorate of Reserve Components] and those people here left with the job of mobilizing the Reserve Components, holding their hat with a tremendous job to do. And here again, they customized. They said "I need a finance unit." So they plucked the 130th Finance [Support Unit] out of the National Guard, who was supposed to mobilize up at Fort Lee, [Virginia], I believe, or somewhere. They put them down here. The 514th MPs [Military Police Company], a National Guard unit, they brought in as installation support to backfill the 16th MP Brigade here. The 1451st Transportation [Company] provided the transportation of everything that moved at Fort Bragg. And they are still does that right now, today.
And that lists goes on and on. Not only for the National Guard, but for the Army Reserve people as well. AG [Adjutant General Corps] units that came in here. Medical units that backfilled Womack Hospital. So it took a little while and you got the speed and during that time we were in a learning phase, if you will.
MAJ LEVIN: What time frame is this, sir?
COL WOOD: This went through, oh, the beginning of ... in the middle of August. And we finally got most of that stuff in place by October, November time frame. But we were still jumping off the end of the building trying to catch up and to get people in and out of Fort Bragg as quickly as possible.
MAJ LEVIN: I know looking at it from the front end, it probably made a lot more sense to mobilize those people at Fort Bragg since they were going to be used here. But in hindsight, would it have been better if they had been mobilized at Fort Lee where the post still had all of its support, and then go up into Fort Bragg?
COL WOOD: No. And let me qualify my answer. If a unit is going to perform duty under a mobilization, let's say in support of Fort Bragg, then it needs to mobilize at Fort Bragg because then all of its records and administrative accountability is at that mobilization station where they are working at, the same place where they're performing the duty. If you got a unit working at Fort Bragg who mobilized at Fort Lee, every time there's a pay problem or an administrative problem, or whatever the problem may be, they've got to run back to Fort Lee for the coordination and support of that. And that's ... it just burns up too much time and it's a coordination problem that you really don't need to have to have. And the simpler you can keep it, the better off you're going to be.
MAJ LEVIN: I see. During this early time when units were getting mobilized and brought in to basically provide post support and mobilization support, what kinds of particular problems were you encountering with those units as they came through?
COL WOOD: One of the problems that caused a lot of concern for unit commanders [was] just arriving at Fort Bragg under the mobilization concept--minus some key individuals in their unit, key AGR [Active Guard and Reserve] people who had been declared non-deployable because of medical reasons and so forth--whatever reason--that was that was holding a key slot in the unit. Whereas let's say it was the supply sergeant, an AGR supply sergeant who had been in the unit for several years ...
MAJ LEVIN: Hold on.
MAJ LEVIN: Okay.
COL WOOD: All right. The AGR individual, usually a supply sergeant or a unit clerk, or someone that had been in the unit for a long time, since 78, that that unit commander had been relying on for a number of years and was integral to the operation of that unit. And then when M-Day1 comes up, he all of a sudden discovers that the individual is a non-deployable asset. And he arrives at Fort Bragg without him. That's a problem that both the Army Reserve and the National Guard. That needs to be addressed. If the AGR or whoever he is, for example, an M-Day soldier, if he is non-deployable, he does not need to be a member of that unit, a deployable unit. Maybe there is someplace else within the National Guard or the Army Reserve that that individual can pull the rest of his time. In the North Carolina Guard there would be something like STARC Headquarters2 that doesn't deploy. Maybe an ARCOM [Army Reserve Command] Headquarters could support him so that he could pull his requirement at Fort Bragg in the event of a full mobilization. But some place other than a slot with a unit that deploys. It can cripple the unit commander by not having him.
Another area that has caused a lot of grief and a tremendous amount of time is a sole parent, single parent. For those individuals, both male and female, who get here and to find out that if they come up and say my dependent package does not work. Or my children ... the people who were designated as the guardian of my child now say they can't do it. Your unit, the unit commander, loses a key individual or someone that he was depending on to perform a duty within his unit when they mobilized, he does not have that resource. And if the unit commander tries to challenge that, saying that maybe the individual [is] trying to get out of being mobilized, then you go through the IG [Inspector General] chain and that goes on and on. It burns up a tremendous amount of time, a unit commander's time. But he doesn't have time to burn. And dealing with something that should've been taken care of at home station. Whereas to motivate them ... .
MAJ LEVIN: I went through that, so I know.
COL WOOD: You will not believe the amount of time that that burns up. Those two areas. The rest of it, as far as physical condition is concerned, that's things that just don't have to happen in the Regular Army. That's just not something that's going to come up. Those two issues make you want to call ...
MAJ LEVIN: When ... what was the flow like? When did units really start to come through here in quantity? Or did they just all of a sudden come through, was there a surge at the front end? Or what happened?
COL WOOD: We had a little bit of surge at the beginning, but mobilizing is a whole lot easier than demobilizing. Because during mobilizing Fort Bragg controlled when the units arrived at the mobilization station by picking up the telephone and coordinating directly with the STARC or with the ARCOM, and in some cases directly with the unit. And adjusting the arrival time for the unit to close into Fort Bragg. Sometimes we had a full house and we were able to back up and slow down the process until we were able to turn around a unit. That really wasn't a problem--other than it taxed the facilities that we had, what limited resources we had to go through the process.
We went through some growing pains within the medical side of the house, with units coming in with outdated or not complete physicals, medical records, etc. Once we got the system cranked up we were able to collect that information, but it took a little while to get that going.
MAJ LEVIN: How was the mobilization station arranged? Is the ... did the arrangement evolve? Or did you have ... was there a concept in mind on how this thing is going to be structured?
COL WOOD: There was a concept in place as to how it would be structured under the full mobilization SOP. But what no one quite realized at the time, but when we got into this just how large this problem would become. We started off with the DRC3 across the street. Within days we outgrew that and had to relocate to where we presently are.4 The medical examinations, for example, started off in a little building next door. And now Fort Bragg is ... or the Womack people have a dedicated facility a lot closer to Smoke Bomb Hill5 that is about three stories high and has a full staff and can do something like 500 physical a day if that was to be required.
So once they got into it and realized how big this thing was and what the requirements were, Fort Bragg adapted very, very quickly. But they had to learn just like we did. The National Guard and the Army Reserve took 40 years to build a mobilization. There's no one here at Bragg that had done this before. They went through a growing process like we did. And once they found out what the requirement was, they adapted very quickly and tried to give the best service and support that they could possibly give with the medical resources they had. They bent over backwards trying to get it done with what limited resources they had.
MAJ LEVIN: Could you describe the kind of structure that exists in this mobilization station?
COL WOOD: What do mean?
MAJ LEVIN: In terms of how everything is set up administratively. Who was in charge?
COL WOOD: Okay. All Right, COL Elmore is the Director of Reserve Component support at Fort Bragg and XVIII Corps. He, in concert with COL Clegg, the DPT [Director of Plans and Training], and his deputy, COL [George] Glann, [correction] LTC Glann; Readiness Group Bragg--they did a tremendous role in escorting and supporting people through the stations that you had to go through to insure that all the bases had been touched and they had the training (required training) that they needed and they had the required equipment that they needed prior to getting in an aircraft and going there.
Those people worked 24-hours a day, seven days a week. The station here was run by a LTC Anderson, George Anderson, and his staff. They had an AG detachment there in the DRC area that had responsibility for cutting orders and providing ID cards, etc. The finance section, and ... dedicated solely for the purpose of supporting Reserve Component mobilized troops. And as I mentioned Jim Thorpe had the Womack support--has sections that have had to give support in the mobilization. That has been an evolution, if you will, a building so ... before they had fused together and saw what was required.
MAJ LEVIN: The resources that were brought in from outside, in other words, there was a lot of equipment that these units required when they got here, but it wasn't available to you. How difficult was it to arrange for that equipment to arrive in a timely way?
COL WOOD: The Guard and the Reserve did as much as they possibly could prior to the unit arriving at the mobilization stations.
MAJ LEVIN: That wasn't part of the plan?
COL WOOD: That wasn't part of the plan. But we very quickly realized that in order to make this unit as combat capable as quickly as possible, prior to the unit arriving they fixed as much as they could by cross-levelling within their own system. Once a unit arrived here they started to through the mobilization station. And at one of those stations they had to stop at was the DCSLOG [Deputy Chief of Staff for Logistics]. And they identified what these shortages were. And those people would go to work right then to find, put together the equipment and the support package for that unit to deploy with. Sometimes it arrived here within a few days. Sometimes it arrived just prior to the unit getting on the aircraft. And in a lot of cases, it arrived, it caught up with the unit, once they got in country. The ...
MAJ LEVIN: Where it was supposed to?
COL WOOD: Yes, where it was supposed to. Some of the units got well. For example the 1451st that was doing the transportation support here on post has got all brand-new trucks, all brand new 5-ton drop-side trucks. And he's had that requisition for years. And all of a sudden they just showed up. There's been units picked up some very nice equipment as a result of this. It's not something that they didn't need. Until they got mobilized here at Fort Bragg, then the emphasis got put on a little bit stronger to make sure they got what they needed.
CPOGs [Chemical Protective Outer Garments] was a, was an issue. As you know, the National Guard has a contingency stock at each armory and at USPFO [US Property and Fiscal Office at state] headquarters there in Raleigh of CPOGs. Even then we ran short on some as the requirement changed from two per each individual to three each, I believe. And we had to jump around here and pull some of the CPOGs from National Guard units close by. The Army Reserve had a warehouse, I understand, at depot that they had CPOGs in that we got.
MAJ LEVIN: Did you find the National Guards from the various States and the Army Reserve to be fairly cooperative in trying to get the equipment in here?
COL WOOD: Yes, sir. Yes siree. Those people worked around the clock once they knew what their mission was and what the piece of equipment on the requirement was. Yeah, they busted their buns trying to get it in place.
MAJ LEVIN: Was that true across the board?
COL WOOD: Across the board, yes, sir. I had no problems with anyone, anywhere. When I picked up the phone and called somebody and said, I understand that you got this piece of equipment; I've got a unit here who needs it. And after we get through the paperwork process, things started moving. No problems at all. Everybody was very cooperative. Once you find the individual who was in control. None at all.
MAJ LEVIN: The units themselves as they came through, there was a large variety of units that came through here. Were there any particular situations that were so unique that it became very, very difficult to support the units that were coming in?
COL WOOD: We have had some units come through here who had unique type of equipment. There are some maintenance units who came through here with a piece of equipment called a DAS-3 [computer system], that caused a lot of problems getting it, replacement parts for it.
COL WOOD: That type of equipment. There were some medical units that came in that needed doctors with specific specialties that we had a hard time locating. What works, there again, once the mission went out and we knew what we were looking for, once the resources were found, it's just a matter of time before we could get fixed. But overall, everybody that left here was intact. I don't know if it all caught up over there once they got in country, but it left Fort Bragg heading in that direction anyway.
MAJ LEVIN: I recall my unit coming through here--a fairly unique experience, because we were small. We inherently don't have any key personnel. Or everybody in the unit is key, we don't have any supply people or anything like that. In fact, even with only three people, we had to have somebody come in from another unit. And I was wondering, what kinds of reactions were going on between the active duty and the fact that they were filling the Reserve Component with active duty personnel. Or, how was that resolved administratively, taking active duty personnel, putting them in reserve units, and then what kinds of provisions could be made for those people; then exiting later on?
COL WOOD: Well, the fill personnel from FORSCOM [US Army Forces Command] was provided by the crew-served replacement center out of Fort Jackson, [South Carolina], I believe. There is one at Fort Benning, [Georgia], and I believe ... I forget where the other one is. But anyway, there is three of them. The one that we dealt with mostly was at Fort Jackson. That's where most of the Regular Army fillers came from. If you were missing a slot, an individual to fill a slot, and you arrived in country and all of a sudden an individual showed up, that's where he came from ... from that replacement center.
In some cases we were able to fill some critical MOSs [Military Occupational Specialties] here at Bragg with people who were still left here at Bragg in fact and mobilized with the Corps that were unable to pull out. There were a tremendous number of people, I believe, in one of the fill [INAUDIBLE] came from Fort Bragg, or from FORSCOM. That worked very well.
When the units started coming back at the end of this operation, we found a lot of National Guard and Army Reserve units that were filled with Regular Army people. And it wasn't a problem in removing those people, now. That went very smooth.
MAJ LEVIN: How did that go?
COL WOOD: Once the unit arrived back at Fort Bragg and they went through the in-processing briefing, we identified the Regular Army people and we had to separate and pull them out, find out where they were processed at, both from the unit and Fort Jackson, and then we would send them back to the placement center. And then they were sent to the unit that they were originally with. In the case of the people who came from Fort Bragg, we identified them then we sent them back to their unit here at Fort Bragg and closed out this business. Very smooth. There were things that we had to make sure that happened, was that the equipment that they had been issued from the unit that they were attached to was returned and sent back to the unit of record. That was just an administrative thing that we had to constantly look at.
MAJ LEVIN: Very good. Things changed, though. Somewhere along the line there was a shift from mobilization to demobilization. And was that transaction more difficult? At that time the Corps came back, but most of them were on block leave or something like that, so they really weren't available. And a lot of their equipment was on the ships. So you really couldn't depend on them very much more than you could when they were gone.
COL WOOD: Well, when the Corps finally came back in the very beginning, most, if not all, of the aircraft arriving back out out at Pope Air Force Base,6 by and large, were just Regular Army units coming back to Fort Bragg. There were some Reserve and Army National Guard type-people holding [INAUDIBLE].
There were Reserve and National Guard individuals on this aircraft that were coming back on emergency leave or were advance parties coming to Bragg to do coordination before their main body arrived. We met each aircraft when they were still up to pull those people out and to get them where they needed to be, and to get their support.
As the Corps came back, they came back, of course, without equipment--it was coming back by sea. We had just released this past weekend the 5-tons from the 1451th. They were still providing post support for the 16th MP Brigade. The brigade has come in. The Corps MPs have now received their mission on the installation here and will reorganize their units at home. The 1451st transportation unit that was doing that mission before will start demobilizing next Friday. COSCOM is now back in place. Their equipment is starting to arrive. And they will be ready to assume their normal mission, they're station for transportation. So therefore we will be in the same [INAUDIBLE].
That transition, I might add ... it's much harder to demobilize the unit than it is to mobilize it. I can bring a unit in here and mobilize them pretty well, and send it off. I can do that a lot quicker and easier than I can demobilize them.
MAJ LEVIN: Why is that?
COL WOOD: The detail and the out processing; the physicals, the line of duties [investigations]; turning in of equipment; the [INAUDIBLE] part of it; the conex records; the time to solve the pay problems that they ran into while they were in Saudi; trying to fix that within the five-day period that we've got them before they go home. Ensure that their [Department of Defense Form]-2147 is, in fact, correct. Promotions that didn't happen, that I'd heard. All the things that ... those who have been in trouble (Article 15s8) etc. Getting the equipment back takes a lot of time. And it takes a lot of expertise. People who are doing it need to know what the hell they're doing so they do it right the first time. Keep from creating a problem that's going to get bigger later on down the road for the individual.
Once the individual clears post and goes home, it's much harder for him to come back and try to correct something then, than it is to fix it while it's here. And making someone understand that is a job in itself. Some of them think that if he raises his hand and says he's got a problem, you're going to pull him off to the side and stand in the corner until the rest of them have left. That is a job in itself.
MAJ LEVIN: Are you expecting some kind of a surge by the end of June? Because I understand that most of the Reserve Component units are supposed to be out of the system by the end of June.
COL WOOD: We are looking for some large units to come back and be released. We are missing an engineer battalion that's due in; we've got a large maintenance unit that's still due back. [INAUDIBLE] Not so many units, but the size of the units and then the numbers of people. There are still a lot of Civil Affairs units that are still out there. So we could be overwhelmed in numbers within the next week to ten days. Not to the point where it will close it down, but the point to where it will be maxed out. To get everybody where they're supposed to be and when is the ... the position that's supposed to be in by the [INAUDIBLE].
MAJ LEVIN: What role did you play in all of this, sir?
COL WOOD: I have--along with myself there was COL Hedrig who is the Army Reserve Liaison Officer--have acted as expediters, if you will, for whoever. And we have coordinated problems within the Reserve and National Guard areas; to try to work that [INAUDIBLE] and coordinating with different States and the STARC headquarters. Resolving problems with promotions and pay; and equipment arrivals; and all kinds of stuff. And also finding the support for the ... for the post: recommending units that we knew could to a particular job; or providing some equipment for a specified period of time to support both the Reserve Component units and in a lot of cases the Active Component.
North Carolina provided a refueling point for 1st COSCOM. We moved the wheeled equipment down to Charleston. We provided helicopter support for paramedical teams out in the western part of the state to do the medical screening; five senior medical people. We provided fixed-wing aircraft to fly to Asheville on an emergency to provide some type of support. We provided ... the Guard provided buses to augment the bus support when it was maxed out because of emergency people they needed to ... . And the regular Army Reserve by the same token has provided a big bunch of support as it could in the same area.
It all jelled together as a team. Once in a while we had a difference of opinion on how it was supposed to be going, but after it was clear that it was real, it was going to happen, then we communicated. Somebody would do the job. You know, Fort Bragg ... the Fort Bragg mobilization program worked. It had a lot of bumps, but once we found out what was causing the bump we fixed it. We accomplished the mission very well.
MAJ LEVIN: What was the working relationship between the civilian and military side? You had a lot of new faces on the military side during mobilization. And you had ... well, here you had some augmentees working the mob station. And you had a number of civilian personnel that had been shifted or you had some civilian personnel that had been taken out and actually sent over to Saudi Arabia to support the Corps in its efforts.
COL WOOD: I really wasn't that closely involved in that. The civilians ... the civilian people that we worked with primarily were out of DOL [Directorate of Logistics], out of [INAUDIBLE]'s shop, and those people did an outstanding job in providing the logistic support and finding out what the requirements were to make that all work. And now they've even got a bigger job, getting this all cleaned, identified, and back into the equipment areas it belongs in.
Fund cite people ... the DCSRM [Deputy Chief of Staff for Resource Management] people up at Corps finance gave support in providing the fund cites, and the transportation for equipment, etc. They have worked themselves to death trying to provide support.
I think the civilians out of Fort Bragg have done an outstanding job. I have nothing but praise for them. A lot of them, for example the people who were doing the cleaning over at the transportation equipment site worked around the clock seven days a week. All of them were that same way. Cory Hughes over here at the maintenance provided fabulous support to us and ran a good operation. Everybody worked as a team.
MAJ LEVIN: Was there any problem getting funding to support all of that?
COL WOOD: I never had any problem. You can always use more money. But it comes to the point where you're abusing the system. But we had trapped what we needed from within ... maybe not the first time we asked for it, but once we went back and explained it, they--the way first time--then you got it. I didn't have any problems at all.
MAJ LEVIN: Very good. I know that after this is done we want to be taking a long, hard look at the mobilization plan. As you mentioned, the original plan (FORMDEPS) was designed for a total mobilization. It was not designed for a partial mobilization. And all of the exercises that we have conducted so far, from a Guard standpoint, really didn't take into account (from what I've been able to gather) that we were actually going someplace and not necessarily coming back. It was always, well, we'll go down to Fort Bragg and we'll go through the line and they'll check the records and everything. And then everybody kind of goes home. Shortcuts were showing up in some of those exercises. There was not a sense of ... that these units were going to be permanently or even semi-permanently assimilated into the system. What kind of changes do you think are going to come about in the plan as a result of this?
COL WOOD: The exercises both from a DA [Department of the Army]-level, such as port calls and those exercises that I've known world-wide, you know, where we come down with a player cell with a 201 [personnel records jacket] file or our mobilization files and then process into the mobilization thing. The DA-level exercises that you referenced where we send our player cells here to Bragg along with all of the other units that were supposed to mobilize in at Bragg ... then you go through a little in-processing station there and you can go pick up their records and pull on their pants and go home, so to speak. Your exercise, for the most part, is over with. No one has ever played the side of the exercise where all these people are coming back.
So Fort Bragg and the other mobilization stations are all writing the book on demobilization. This is the first time I've ... shoot, so that's a whole brand new chapter. Chapter, hell. It's going to be a whole brand new book because it creates an entirely new world of problems. That's an area that we're going to have to start looking at. The mobilization exercises are going to have to have a little more realism in them in that you just don't sit down and look at a unit's equipment column and say, "we'll send it off; you'll get that prior to leaving Fort Bragg." Well, they found out it doesn't happen that way. Fort Bragg is not an equipment depot for anybody, so to speak. So that was an unrealistic play feature in the exercise.
Real world time, if you will, as to when certain things can happen and what support can be realistically expected to be in place. This Corps is a fast-moving corps--this Corps headquarters and COSCOM and those people here. Those people leave town at the drop of a hat. And in the future the exercises have got to reflect that. Where in the heck is the support going to come from.
One of the, if I may drop back a minute, one of the things that caused Fort Bragg its biggest problem here was the fact that they mobilized units at Fort Bragg that were not scheduled to mobilized, such as, for example, the 20th Special Forces Group--1,500 people. Stayed here, they didn't go anywhere (other than they went to some schools, etc.). But that ate up a lot of resources and limited the supply of housing here in the DRC area.
MAJ LEVIN: Is that part of DESERT STORM or DESERT SHIELD?
COL WOOD: They came and the came in under DESERT STORM/DESERT SHIELD mobilization. But they were not supposed to mobilize at Fort Bragg. Their mobilization station is in Alabama. I forget the name of the mobilization station out there. But ... .
MAJ LEVIN: Is it wise, generally speaking, I'm not talking about this post in terms of the people who were on it or anything like that. But generally speaking, if you have a post like Fort Bragg which is not a training center, this is an active post with units on it that have a contingency mission. Is it wise to mobilize units at a post like this? Or would it be better to find posts that will remain garrisoned in times of emergency like Fort Jackson or Fort Lee and some of the others?
COL WOOD: Fort Bragg could handle very easily the types of units that did mobilize here, with the exception of the 20th Special Forces Group, the Civil Affairs group that were not supposed to mobilize here. If those people had been left out of the Fort Bragg mobilization process, and we just received those units that we were supposed to have, it would have been a piece of cake.
That extra work load dropped on us maxed out the support. It used up a lot of bed space, such as when the 20th Special Forces stayed here. That was 1,500 people plus the office space required that they ate up. Plus transportation, equipment, etc. If, and you can't always say that when you write up a mobilization SOP, you identify who the units are going to be that arrive at your mobilization station. That cannot always be expected to be set in concrete. You have to be flexible with it. But you've got to use some common sense in it also. A unit, the 20th Special Forces, could have mobilized at their normal mobilization station just as easily as they did here. And it was a command call, and I can't begin to disagree with a four star about why he made such a decision. I'm sure he knew a hell of a lot more about it than I ever will. But as a result of that decision that it maxed out something here in Fort Bragg that really didn't need to be maxed out in that area. It caused a lot of people a lot of problems. It still is, because of what we mobilize, we had to demobilize.
MAJ LEVIN: Exactly.
COL WOOD: And the people up at the transition station up in the AG office, who were trying to do the pay and the 214s for the individuals out-processing, now they're maxed out. You can't believe the work load those people have got down there. They still got basically the same number of people that they've always had with a work load ... a heavy day for them is 50 people out-processing from the Regular Army. We were running 500 a day to them.
MAJ LEVIN: Have they been augmented at all?
COL WOOD: They some few people, that's true. But if you bring people in to the section there from the Army Reserves and National Guard to help them pad 215s or 214s and the medical forms. So you've got to train up soldiers and get them ... and even them you've got to have someone there to watch it, to insure that they understand what they're doing. And everything.
MAJ LEVIN: Sir, one of the things that I've been wondering about that may feed into this down the line--the Army is right now looking at how its going to redefine itself. And there are a lot of proposals that are going out on changing TOEs [Tables of Organization and Equipment] and things like that based on the DESERT STORM/DESERT SHIELD operation.
Do you envision that some of these re-alignments that take place will be done with the concept in mind of units coming in and doing post support? I'm not so sure that every unit that come on to the post to do post support was really geared for coming to Fort Bragg and doing it here, or that they had an opportunity to work in that kind of environment during AT [Annual Training]. Do you envision that perhaps they will reconfigure units designed specifically for post support in the Reserve Components, and for mobilization purposes?
COL WOOD: I think they would be wise to do that.
When I was ... at Fort Bragg (and every other post that's been involved in this) are going to be involved in rewriting their mobilization SOP, FORMDEPS, everything that has anything to do with mobilization is going to be relooked and reworked. And one of those areas that they are going to have to take a serious look at is that subject that you just touched on: what the base support package is supposed to look like and what they need to call up early-on to bring in, have in place when the units start arriving. Yes, I do. And those units need to know that that's their mobilization mission; that they go to Fort Bragg or they go to Fort Benning or Fort Meade or wherever it may happen to be to perform a specific mission. And it's a very important mission because none of it can happen without those people. That is something that has to be put in place. And it is ... particularly at Fort Bragg where everybody picks up and leaves at the drop of a hat because that's the moment to go.
That package has got to be in hard copy. And those people have got to be identified earlier to make that happen. We were lucky this time. We were lucky in that all of the units that were supposed to have arrived at Fort Bragg didn't come to Fort Bragg, they weren't mobilized, such as the 30th Mech[anized Infantry] Brigade. Can you imagine what this would have been like if 30th Mech Brigade had been mobilized. And what would Fort Bragg--in conjunction with the other 102 units, 10,000 plus people--if we had brought the 30th Mech in? First off, where would we have put them? Where would they have trained? And where would the support package be for them? If the 30th Mech Brigade had been mobilized along with the other three Mech Brigades, even just to go to the NTC [National Training Center, Fort Irwin, California], it would've been a tremendous undertaking in conjunction with the other mobilization requirements that we had at Fort Bragg.
MAJ LEVIN: Yes, sir. And they are used to coming to Fort Bragg. It's home base.
COL WOOD: You betcha. When they come into Fort Bragg under mobilization, there are requirements, too. All those physicals have to be done. The shots have to be updated. The gas masks inserts for those people who require mounts or eyeglasses inside the gas masks. All that. That would have been a nightmare under the present configuration that we have.
MAJ LEVIN: One of the things that was vexing to me when we did our mobilization--going through my mobilization packet, which for a three-man detachment is as big as anybody else's; I have to have all the books and everything, all of the convoy plans for one truck.
Do you envision--now we've worked with--threw out everything that was in those books. There were only a few forms that we actually used. And essentially everything that we used for mobilization could easily have fit in one notebook without any problem at all. Do you envision that maybe some of that work load will be diminished?
COL WOOD: Yes, sir. As I said earlier the FORMDEPS, the Unit Commander's Handbook, all that is going to have to be rewritten based on what we have now learned from actually trying to do it. And there are a lot of requirements that need not be there. And there are some requirements that should be there that are not. There's a lot of the garbage that can be thrown away. And I call it exactly what it is, garbage. We don't need to redo a work for work's sake, or a form for form's sake. If it really has a functional place where to it's going to accomplish something, fine.
One of those things being a load card for a truck. I went to a lot of the units that were loading their vehicles to come to Fort Bragg. Ain't nobody need those cards. And when they were fixing to deploy out of Fort Bragg, I've yet to see a load card used. They put on the truck and reported what was on there, basically what you did.
MAJ LEVIN: Yes, sir.
COL WOOD: In fact, I believe you customized, custom built your vehicle, if I remember correctly.
MAJ LEVIN: Yes, sir, we did.
COL WOOD: So how are do a load card for that, in preparation?
MAJ LEVIN: We weren't even supposed to have that particular kind of vehicle.
COL WOOD: I can see where maybe for planning purposes a load card might be of some use--might be of some use down the road. But it did not work in this exercise that we just went through.
MAJ LEVIN: I think that probably that fallacy came to the surface when people ... we had done mobilization exercises where we supposedly loaded everything they had at the armory. But when they came here for this, there were items of equipment that were left back at the armory that were on the load card, but the unit really didn't feel like it was going to be needing that, that kind of stockage. And other hand, there were items that the unit would not normally bring, that the State loaned them for this operation but wouldn't have been on that load card. So all of that changed. The whole load changed. In fact, when we got here some of the equipment that we were forced to carry with us, some non-essential things like ammunition boxes and things like that, took up a lot of space. And we could not have anticipated that sort of thing on the way.
COL WOOD: One of those items: I questioned why they carried rifle racks, wall racks, to a combat zone. If I had a weapon issued to me it would be in my hand and not in my rack somewhere. And, of course, I did not go to Saudi, but I understand if you were on the streets you had your weapon with you.
MAJ LEVIN: Yes, sir, that's correct.
COL WOOD: So there was ... there was some pieces of equipment that filled up space that someone had to worry with. That dad-blamed metal wall rack for weapons that wasn't used. It just another piece of cargo that had to be looked after. We don't need to do things ... stupid things. I believe that was one of them. Carrying your cots, there was a lot of confusion about were you supposed to carry cots over there. Finally, the best solution to that was if you got it, take it. A cot, anything of comfort, otherwise you weren't going to get it. As it turned out, that ...
MAJ LEVIN: ... that was exactly right.
COL WOOD: ... that was exactly what happened. If you got it, you can use it. You ain't got a cot, baby, you ain't gonna get it. I think I was told many years ago that in order to survive you needed to learn to support yourself. And that probably played a very key role over in Saudi. There's going to be a lot of rewriting.
MAJ LEVIN: The mobilization packet that I had was, again, like I mentioned, oriented on a full mobilization. We were supposed to have three days on our home station before we came to Fort Bragg. It turned out we had three days at our home station before we came to Fort Bragg. And most of the units that came down here were in similar circumstance; they just had a matter of days before they had to leave the armory and come here. Do you think that lead time at the armory would have been helpful for doing some of the pre-administrative work? Or was that pretty well accomplished within the time frame here?
COL WOOD: The thirty days at home station, the old ... let me say it this way, the exercise scenario that our mobilization plans are written ... are written under World War II/Korean War mind-set if you will. That you've got so many days at home station and so many days at the mobilization station before you go; and so you know the exact day you're going to go. It's not necessarily so.
To my way of thinking--Marvin Wood--that the mobilization, if we go through this again, it's probably going to be in the same type of time frame that you went through this time. If you mobilize again, and you're going to if you stay in the Guard or the Reserve for the extent of your military career, you're going to mobilize again. That's the nature of our military configuration now. And if we reconfigure and its cut down the size of the active force and augment the support package, particularly from the combat support and combat service support role, then those units who are picking up that mission are subject to be mobilized much more often than they ever have been in the past. And they will never, ever, I don't believe, have a thirty-day lead time at home station to get themselves ready.
That's the whole purpose of the mobilization of the Guard and Reserve. That's their whole mission. Every day they're supposed to be prepared for mobilization. They're supposed to be ready every day. They are not supposed to have to stop and say "oh, wait a minute, gang, we're going to be mobilized. I think we need to fix this." It's supposed to be fixed when its broke and not wait until someone raises a flag and says, you got to get your homework done, man, you're fixing to mobilize.
MAJ LEVIN: A lot of things are going to have to change, then, in the area of logistics and personnel.
COL WOOD: Of course, a lot of that now is constrained by the lack of money. If they do not have the funds to give you your new piece of equipment, you're going to have to do with what you got. But as far as the administrative side of the house is concerned--physicals and shots, the 201 files being current and correct and those people that are in the unit being MOS qualified to the highest level that you can get them, and that they're physically fit to perform in the slot you got them in. Yes, that's three-fourths of the problem solved right there. As you mentioned earlier, the equipment, currently, for the most part that which was mission-critical [INAUDIBLE].
MAJ LEVIN: Yes, usually what I discovered here while I was going through--and talking to other units--is that the critical equipment that they needed did catch up with them here at Fort Bragg or at their mobilization station, wherever it was.
COL WOOD: You see, people were so helpful right here, you got the equipment nine times out of ten before you left. Or the people here at Bragg knew where that piece of equipment was going to be before they ever let them leave here.
MAJ LEVIN: Would it have helped the mobilization station if there would have been allotted more time for staying here at the mob station? I notice that in my own unit we were put into a crunch at the end. We were coming down to the wire and there was a backlog of things to do. And I know that if I had had maybe one more week here at the mob station, a lot of the problems that I was facing could have been resolved a lot better. I could have probably gotten a better quality individual to fill in my unit. My customization [LAUGHTER] of the truck could have been completed. There were a number of things that could have been ironed out with just a little more time at mob station.
And I think that was probably true with most of the units who came through that were getting frustrated with eyeglasses and things like that. And the personnel problems you were discussing. Do you feel like in times to come if we could plan for a little bit more time at mob station, we don't need as much time as home station ... because actually I was able to complete, and most units were able to complete everything that they needed to at home station, you know, in two-three days.
COL WOOD: I don't think that you will ever again have the length of time that you feel ... you have to have everything done, everything is complete, before you sit down in the aircraft to fly out. I don't think that you'll ever have that amount of time. It would be as short as it was this time or it may be shorter. You're going to have to ... you're going to have to start accomplishing those missions or those tasks during the weekend drills and the two weeks of camp. More so than relying on being able to come to Fort Bragg under a mobilization concept and get it fixed.
MAJ LEVIN: Yes, sir.
On the other side of that, everything I asked for at Fort Bragg I had been asking for for years as a commander in my drill time. And had been frustrated because the system said "well, you're not likely to get mobilized. Whoever heard of a history unit being mobilized." And I think they had that attitude about a lot of units that got called up. It surprised them because it wasn't the combat units that got called first.
COL WOOD: As it turned out, combat units weren't mobilized. Can we stop?
MAJ LEVIN: Yes, sir.
COL WOOD: I think what you ... you're going to have to keep in mind what are going to have to see happen, getting back to the schedule of weekend drills and whatnot, that people have to do more realistic training and qualifying, getting their individuals qualified, ready to mobilize. In other words, when he comes to Fort Bragg, he's going to have to be on the list as qualified; that the vehicle, the maintenance has been pulled on it so you don't have to drag it over to the shop to get it fixed; that the, for the most part, all of that equipment that you needed ... the gas mask inserts were already available.
But in the exercises that we had performed in the past, we told the company commanders that 60 percent of your people need gas mask inserts. All you got to do is get the requisition in if you know what the prescriptions are. Send it to the USPFO and we'll get it. And nobody ever paid any attention because nobody's ever been mobilized. Why do we want to go through this administrative drill, why requisition something you're not going to use.
MAJ LEVIN: That was not just the problem with the commanders. That was also a problem with the system.
COL WOOD: Exactly right.
MAJ LEVIN: Because I know a lot of times I butted heads over pieces of equipment that I knew I was going to need.
[END OF SIDE ONE]
MAJ LEVIN: We perhaps need to relook at the mobilization time frame for different kinds of units. Like most of the time we look at combat units. We say, well, they're going to be the first one called. And that theory kind of got blown out the window with the Reserve Components. I know there are probably a lot of politics about that, but realistically when the Army goes they have banked on the Reserve Components in the support--combat service support--areas so that they really can't fulfill their mission without us. And it may be that the service support and support units need to perhaps get a higher priority.
COL WOOD: I think in the Guard and the Reserve side of the house, I think it's something like 65 percent or 70 percent of the combat support, combat service support for the Active Component is in the National Guard and Army Reserve. And for those units that will mobilize to fulfill that role, they've had to have had their eyes opened. And they have a real-world mission and they need to ready to deploy at the drop of a hat.
And now those that have been mobilized and that have pulled that mission know--should know--what they need to do when they come back home. So those who follow on behind them ... that they will be able to come back and perform even better than they did. But we are going to have to change our way of doing business as far as day-to-day preparation for mobilization. My pet peeve is that mobilization is not a black box that you pull out from underneath the desk about once a year, and just sort of reach into it and pull out the mobilization plan. Mobilization is day-to-day. That's the only reason that we exist--we being the National Guard and Army Reserve. Uncle Sam doesn't need a second army sitting off here by itself. It's genuinely woven within the overall concept, the one army concept, if you utilize your Army Reserves and National Guard to perform in a conflict or mission. Each supports the other.
And unless we hold up our end of that deal by doing the day-to-day requirements ... so we're going to fall down? In some cases the problems that we have from an administrative standpoint with the Guard are some unit administrator who wouldn't do his duty, his day-to-day job, and maintain the 201 files and seeing to it that everybody was administratively taken care of. But what we thought the big problem was, the equipment side that we talked about, was fixed. We did not always get equipment, but the mission is simply the piece of equipment that would be given to you before you left here or mark that you would need out there. I'll get off my soapbox.
MAJ LEVIN: No. That's what this whole thing is. Is there anything in particular that you feel needs to be added that I may not have covered?
COL WOOD: No, other than to review my concerns about the non-deployables in both the Guard and Reserves--who are holding key positions within our units that cannot today or will not be able to tomorrow deploy with their unit if their mobilized again. And yet they're holding key slots. Won't give it up. And that might sound cold and hard and all that, but that's the way it's got to be. If an individual cannot function in the slot that he is assigned in, you need to find him another slot. And that includes those of you in the [INAUDIBLE]. When the time comes if I think I can't function, you best believe that I will know it. I think you know that in your unit. That takes up a lot of your time.
MAJ LEVIN: Yes, sir.
COL WOOD: The sole parent, that thing has got to be fixed. And without sticking my tongue in my cheek, it looks like its just going to have to be approached in the way that this individual who is a single parent in the Guard or Reserve, you got to look at possibly moving them out, but I think you came up with that before we did. Or if you're a single parent, then you not be recruited into the Guard or Reserve system to start out with. Because all you're doing is buying you trouble--a big problem--both from the child's standpoint and the armed service's. Both from the dependent's standpoint and from the admin side of this, of trying to correct it once individual's at this post. A lot of time and money committed, and we do not need that problem. The best way to handle it is to get rid of them. A lot of people aren't going to agree with that. I'll get off my soap box now.
MAJ LEVIN: Okay. Well, sir, I thank you very much for your time. It's been a good interview.
COL WOOD: I hope I said something useful.
MAJ LEVIN: Thank you very much.
COL WOOD: It might have ended my military career, but [LAUGHTER]
MAJ LEVIN: No, sir.
[END OF INTERVIEW]