By Bob Feidler, Army Director, ROA
The Army Reserve and several of its leaders were featured recently at a program sponsored by the Center for Security and International Studies (CSIS), a distinguished Washington DC based think tank.
Featured speakers included Lt. Gen. Jeffrey W. Talley, Chief of the Army Reserve, and Congressman Joe Heck (R-NV) who is also a brigadier general in the Army Reserve. The program had two panels: one highlighted the role of an Army Reservist as a Citizen Soldier and the other focused on the role of the Army Reserve at home and abroad.
Congressman Heck, who also chairs the Subcommittee on Military Personnel of the House Armed Services Committee, spoke of several challenges he sees facing the Army Reserve. He noted the tight fiscal environment DoD and the Reserves find themselves in which could lead to cuts in authorized end-strength and declining amounts of resources for training and equipment. He noted that the Army Reserve, as the Federal Reserve to the active Army, faces a challenge in recognition of its role and separating itself from the brand of Active component and of the Army National Guard. He noted the advantage the Guard has of being larger, in more reserve centers and communities, and in being closely associated with the States and communities within which they are located. Congressman Heck thought the Army Reserve had a real challenge ahead to build its identity and keep its relevance. He viewed recruitment and retention as future problems that might face the Army Reserve. He stated that his committee is always seeking to leverage the expenditure of dollars spent on national security and that the Army Reserve, given its cost and expertise, may well see greater use in the near future as the active component continues an aggressive drawdown from 490,000 currently to possibly under 450,000 personnel by 2018.
General Talley began his remarks by noting that we cannot afford the size of the active Army that we would like to have which will likely lead to greater Army Reserve participation in a variety of missions. He recounted the evolution of the Army Reserve components in the 1970’s under the direction of the Army Chief of Staff Creighton Abrams. General Abrams, learning from the lesson of Vietnam in which Reserve Components were not heavily used and support for the war by the public waned, decided that it was best for the Army if it were organized in such a way that the Reserve Components would be vital to the Army and that all future wars of necessity would have to involve a mobilization of the Reserves.
General Talley spoke of the need to provide sufficient optempo money to enable training, modernization and equipping of the Force. He stressed that sequestration has had and will continue to have a severe impact on the Army Reserve. He also highlighted the need to expand the Full Time Support (FTS) staff of the Army from its current 76 percent of estimated requirement to at least 85 percent. One way to do that would be for AC personnel to staff certain full-time positions in Army Reserve units thereby both gaining experience with RC units and sharing their knowledge.
The panel that featured USAR personnel as Citizen Soldier simply highlighted the extraordinary expertise and civilian distinction that Army Reservists bring to their military duties. Featured were Maj. Gen. Ron Dziedzicki, commander of the 3rd Medical Command and also the chief operating officer of a major Ohio medical provider, University Hospitals Case Medical Center, Colonel Dan Arkins who is a regional director with MetLIfe Disability and chief of staff of the 108th Training Division, and Dr. James Bridgers Jr., deputy health officer for a large Maryland county and also the command sergeant major of the 151st Theater Information Group. All three panelists recounted stories about how their civilian expertise had been brought to bear on military issues and how their military experience benefited them and their employers in civilian life. They were extraordinary examples of the mutually beneficial connections that come about with Citizen Soldiers!
The final panel included Lt. Gen. Patrick Donahue II, deputy commanding general of U.S. Forces Command (the command to which the USARC reports and with which it is co-located at Ft. Bragg), Maj. Gen. David Conboy, the DCG –Ops of the USARC, and Mr. Robert Salesses, deputy assistant secretary of defense for Homeland Defense integration and Defense Support of Civil Authorities.
General Donahue noted the reliance on the USAR by the AC reflecting that one-third of early deploying units under the Army Contingency Force Concept were from the USAR. He noted that USAR was both operational and strategic and sufficient mobilization authorities now existed in the law to make full use of the Reserves.
General Conboy noted the Army Reserve accomplishes its mission with roughly 20% of the personnel in the Total Army and with 6 percent of the budget. He highlighted the many diverse support functions performed by USAR soldiers including 24,000 personnel supporting TRADOC and the important role the USAR plays in support of domestic authorities (DSCA operations) including supplying 100% of the Army EPLOs. He anticipated future needs in this area to focus on law enforcement, public health emergencies, and disaster support.
The DoD spokesperson echoed the key role the USAR plays in domestic support operations and the increasing reliance on the Army Reserve to play a key role in DSCA operations.
The Army Reserve plays a key role both overseas and domestically – with missions in both fields potentially expanding as the active Army shrinks. To perform the function expected of it, and to maintain its operational capacities developed over the course of the past decade of war, the Army Reserve needs sufficient resources. It need it for training, modernization, equipping. An area of critical importance that needs to be upgraded is the number of FTS personnel who support the traditional Reservist. That number must increase to at least 85 percent of the identified requirement – a level closer to what other Reserve Components are resourced at for this function.
The value of the Citizen Soldier resounded throughout the program – now it is essential that it receive proper resourcing so that it does not become solely a strategic reserve but can continue its recent historic function as a fully operational component of the U.S. Army of which it is an integral part!