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By Jenny Swigoda
As defense budget allocations are working their way through the House and Senate, the Reserve Forces Policy Board (RFPB) is planning for the future of the Reserve Components (RC).
On Thursday, Dec. 12, the RFPB conducted an open meeting at the Pentagon in which Admiral Gary Roughead, USN (Ret), former chief of naval operations; General Ronald Fogleman, USAF (Ret), former chief of staff of the Air Force; and Michèle Flournoy, former Under Secretary of Defense for Policy, offered insight into the issues that face the RC in the era of an operational reserve force.
Adm. Roughead lauded the accomplishments and contributions of RC members who have “sacrificed so much.” The former chief of naval operations pointed out that the American public is largely uninformed when it comes to issues of national security.
“When you poll the American people and ask them about the importance of national security, it polls at 1 percent,” Adm. Roughead said.
Committees such as the RFPB will have to weigh their options and make recommendations to the Secretary of Defense on budget appropriations. Citing the drawdown in Iraq and Afghanistan, the three guest speakers emphasized the need to maintain a force that is ready.
“We would not have been able to support the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan without the Reserve Component,” Adm. Roughead said.
Flournoy echoed this sentiment in her remarks, saying that it is imperative that the RC remain “properly trained and properly equipped.”
Looking back at what the last two decades have facilitated in terms of national security, Gen. Fogleman pointed to the All-Volunteer Force as the culprit of financial burdens on defense.
“It’s not a case of just saving money, but it’s also about what you’re doing with the money and its modernization,” said Gen. Fogleman. “This is an era when we have to look at reductions in our land forces.”
Acknowledging the war-weary American public, Flournoy reminded board members that a stable and ready reserve force is greatly needed to keep the nation secure.
“The name of the game is trying to keep a balance with keeping the faith of those who have served, those who are serving and those who will serve,” said Flournoy.
Late on Thursday, a budget deal was struck in the House, effectively moving to the Senate who will put it to a vote next week. For more, please read Marshall Hanson’s analysis.