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Human Resources Operations Branch: Doctrine Versus Reality

While deployed to Iraq, the 1st Sustainment Brigade's human resources operations branch served several important functions.

According to Field Manual (FM) 1–0, Human Resources Support, the human resources operations branch (HROB) is a subordinate branch of a sustainment brigade or expeditionary sustainment command support operations office and "is responsible for the planning, coordinating, integrating, and synchronizing [of] PA [personnel accountability], casualty, and postal operations missions."

In April 2010, the 1st Sustainment Brigade deployed from Fort Riley, Kansas, to Kuwait in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom 10–12 and Operation New Dawn. Given the mission of the brigade, the HROB participated only in the doctrinal postal operations mission; however, the branch placed a great deal of emphasis on force management, contracting, and public affairs command information, three areas that are inadequately covered in current human resources (HR) doctrine.

Force Management Challenges
FM 1–0 contains very little guidance on deployed force management, referring only to the HROB's role in theater opening and redeployment. However, before the 1st Sustainment Brigade deployed, the HROB officer-in-charge designated HROB personnel to receive formal training on force management. This paid dividends as the branch provided force-flow information to the brigade staff and tracked HR unit rotation schedules to ensure that gaps did not exist. The HROB staff quickly identified requirements and capabilities shortfalls as well as potential solutions to prevent mission degradation.

The HROB used several methods and systems to track and manage force flow, including the following.

Global Force Management Allocation Plan (GFMAP). GFMAP is a document maintained on a classified document-sharing site that displays Secretary of Defense-approved allocations and deployments of forces in support of the combatant commander's rotational force requirements.

Mobilization and Deployment Information System (MDIS). MDIS is an Army-wide, classified tracking application that allows leaders at any echelon to monitor unit rotations.

Force Requirements Enhanced Database (FRED). FRED is a classified database maintained by the U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) that contains information about its force rotations and allocations.

Joint Operations Planning and Execution System (JOPES). JOPES is a classified system designed to satisfy the information needs of combatant commanders and their staffs in the conduct of joint planning and operations. JOPES is used to monitor, plan, and execute mobilization, deployment, employment, sustainment, and redeployment activities associated with joint operations.

Force management crosswalk. The force management crosswalk is a classified spreadsheet maintained by force managers at all echelons to monitor unit rotations 2 years out. The 1st Sustainment Brigade HROB maintained the HR unit crosswalk for forces based in Kuwait and Qatar.

The HROB encountered some challenges with HR force management. For example, the branch did not have a clear picture of the locations of personnel accountability teams. There were two reasons for this. First, the Kuwait-based sustainment brigade turned over mission command of the theater gateway mission in December 2009 to a regional support group (RSG), a Reserve element that served as the headquarters of the 1st Theater Sustainment Command's task force deployment and redeployment operations.

Second, personnel accountability teams did not maintain unit integrity. Personnel arrived at the theater gateway without the required secret security clearances, causing the RSG commander and theater gateway director to reassign them to locations other than those specified by the force tracking numbers. Although the 1st Sustainment Brigade maintained responsibility for the force management crosswalk, the RSG did not always notify the HROB when these movements occurred.

The HROB also had problems receiving actual arrival date (AAD) memorandums for Active component units in a timely manner. Force managers use the AAD memorandum to compute an Active component unit's boots-on-ground date to start the 1-year deployment clock. This process requires oversight to ensure that the systems indicate correct dates for current and future rotations. As outlined in CENTCOM's force rotation business rules, the unit commander has up to 90 days to complete the AAD memorandum; otherwise, the GFMAP AAD determines a unit's boots-on-ground date.

Postal Contract Oversight
Although doctrine is clear that the HROB provides technical guidance to the military units that provide postal contractor oversight, the 1st Sustainment Brigade HROB discovered that there are different interpretations of that responsibility.

The brigade's special troops battalion (STB) maintained mission command of the Kuwait postal mission. The postal platoon and postal plans and operations personnel located at Camp Arifjan and assigned to the STB served as technical inspectors and assistant contracting officer's representatives (ACORs) for the Army post offices in Kuwait and Qatar and the joint military mail terminal (JMMT) in Kuwait.

FM 1–0 states the following:

The success of contracting postal operations when shifting from a "military operated and military supervised" postal operation to a "contractor operated" postal operation is ensuring the government maintains oversight of the service. The military accomplishes this by ensuring trained and experienced postal personnel serve as the primary and alternate Contracting Officer Representatives.

HROB staff conducted troop-to-task analysis to determine the minimum number of personnel required for mission success. The HROB's postal inspection team also conducted numerous staff inspections and staff assistance visits to promote this oversight initiative. However, the HROB did not always receive buy-in or agreement from various organizations about the definition of "oversight" and experienced some challenges in communicating mission requirements.

For example, the 1st Sustainment Brigade's STB commander determined that he required at least two ACORs at each Army post office to ensure mission success (and the HROB concurred), while CENTCOM, U.S. Army Central, and the human resources sustainment center determined that one ACOR was sufficient. The HROB also experienced a challenge with a military mail terminal team director who did not agree with doctrine that the 1st Sustainment Brigade commander should maintain mission command of the JMMT–Kuwait mission.

Through proper oversight, the HROB discovered shortfalls in contract language, specifically in the postal operations section of the Combat Services Support Contract–Kuwait. For example, the contractor had shifted personnel to other locations without completing the necessary training and paperwork. HROB staff immediately ensured that the follow-on contract, Kuwait Base Operations and Security Support Services, contained language that directed the contractor to notify the contracting officer's representative of all pending moves and to complete all necessary training and paperwork before relocations.

Strategic Communication
FM 1–0 does not address the benefits of providing HR products to a public affairs office command information program. But doing so turned out to be a tool for the command information program. The HROB learned early in the deployment that the branch must educate people on what it brings to the fight.

The HROB let Soldiers know about available HR support through a variety of means, such as flyers, articles, public service announcements, standing operating procedures, social networks, and websites. Postal operations became the HR centerpiece in the brigade's strategic communications program. The branch highlighted the absentee ballot program, non-mailable items, and EagleCash usage at the Army post offices.

The HROB took the initiative to create two comprehensive standing operating procedures (postal staff inspections and HROB operations) to share with the field and posted them on S1NET, the Army's HR professional forum. The HROB also spearheaded phase 2 of the Support Operations Course and the Transportation Corps Museum donation project; those initiatives reveal the benefits of Adjutant General's Corps participation in strategic communication.

The Army has undergone a major transformation, and because of it, HROBs are here to stay. HROBs should continue to provide lessons learned to the field and embrace sustainment challenges. HROBs that maintain successful information programs function as force multipliers that promote internal and external networking while educating the field on current HR initiatives. Writers of HR doctrine should incorporate force management, contracting, and public affairs command information into future doctrine.

Major David L. Godfrey, Jr., is the chief of the 1st Sustainment Brigade human resources operations branch. He holds a B.S. degree in recreation administration from Jacksonville State University, a B.S. degree in physician assistant studies from the University of Nebraska Medical Center, and an M.A. degree in human resources management from Webster University. He is a graduate of the Transportation Officer Basic Course, Adjutant General's Corps Captains Career Course, Unit Movement Officer Course, and Airborne Course.

Warrant Officer 1 LaMika D. Brown is a human resources technician for the 1st Sustainment Brigade. She holds an associate's degree in business from Troy University. She is a graduate of the Warrant Officer Candidate School, Warrant Officer Basic Course, Advanced Leader Course, and Warrior Leader Course.

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