Morale: The Rear Detachment


August 31, 2007: Among the many unsung heroes in wartime are some that get nowhere near the shooting. Among this group would be the troops that make up the Rear Detachment (of brigades shipped off to a combat zone.) These are the people (about one percent of the brigade strength) that are selected to stay behind and take care of the families, facilities and equipment left behind. The Rear Detachment spends most of their time looking after families, since a bit over half of troops these days are married. Those families have their own organization, the Family Readiness Group (FRG). The head of the FRG and commander of the Rear Detachment work closely together, because the Rear Detachment hasn't got a lot of manpower, and volunteers from the FRG are essential to take care of all the little crises that can crop up.

The Rear Detachment also deals with rumor control. The dependents are bombarded by what's in the media, and email from their troops over there. The Rear Detachment plays a major role is helping those left behind sort out the reality from the rumors.

The "Rear-Ds" also take care of memorial ceremonies and making sure funerals go as smoothly as possible. This includes the most difficult task of all, dealing with the family of a recently killed soldier. To this end, and many others, the Rear Detachment maintains a 24/7 office, just like the brigade does when it's in residence. There are some 10,000 dependents and next of kin associated with the troops in the average brigade. At any given time, some of them need some help from the Rear Detachment.

The Rear Detachment, as it now exists, is another side effect of the all-volunteer army. By the 1980s, when brigades were sent off somewhere, the Rear Detachment began to develop into what it is today.


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