by Bob Feidler, Army Director
ROA hosted a meeting 28 May with the Office of the Chief of the Army Reserve to discuss issues affecting Reservists and their families.Participants from more than 25 military and veteran service organizations met with senior staff from OCAR.
ROA Executive Director Jeff Phillips provided a summary of his remarks at the first hearing of the Commission on the Future of the Army (CoFA). Highlights of ROA’s testimony were:
Need to define what an operational Reserve truly means;
Embracing the Army Total Force Policy
Preserving the separate roles, missions, and identities of the Federal Army Reserve and the Army National Guard.
Importance of integration among the three compos, especially with the winding down of war and its integratory nature.
Specific ROA recommendations included:
Encouraging the Army to make better use of the mobilization authority under Title 10 United States Code 12304(b) that provides Army Reservists with expanded training opportunities;
Augmenting the Army Reserve in support of Defense Support to Civil Authorities;
Increasing leadership opportunities by placing qualified Army Reserve and Guard senior officers in appropriate three- and four-star billets for which they are qualified e.g. G1, G4, or NORTHCOM Commander;
Ensuring that senior active component Army leaders have some reasonable experience with the Army Reserve or Guard as they progress in their careers;
Urging the commission to identify and consider the relative costs of active component and reserve component units as they considered the appropriate force mix and balance;
Revising the standards leading to joint qualification to better enable reserve officers to attain Joint Qualified Officer level III status without having to attend a senior service school in residence;
Expanding military educational opportunities for all reservists.
Col. George Dukes of OCAR also discussed the Army Commission hearing and Chief of the Reserve’s remarks that echoed the three highlights above. He also urged greater support for full-time support positions to permit the USAR to expand to include special forces and endorsing the Army’s new aviation policy. The CoFA will hold the next hearing at Ft. Bragg, NC, on 9 June 2015. Additional public and private sessions will be held throughout the year. The Commission must report their findings to Congress by 1 February 2016.
The status of a variety of Reserve related legislative items and other items on The Military Coalition (TMC) agenda was briefed by Larry Madison and John McElligott, who co-chair the TMC Guard-Reserve Committee. The TMC is recognized as an influential military coalition in Washington. ROA is a charter member and continues to be actively involved.
Command Chief Warrant Officer Phyllis Wilson discussed the current role of warrant officers in the United States Army Reserve. In short, warrant officers are specialists in a variety of fields. They are known for their expertise in aviation, but they also perform vital services in areas ranging from healthcare to intelligence.
Sgt. Maj. Gary Martz provided a detailed analysis of the current personnel structure of the USAR. For fiscal year 2016, USAR has requested an end strength level of approximately 198,000 serving Reservists – 180,000 in Troop Program Units, 16,000 Active Guard and Reserve and 2600 Individual Mobilization Augmentees. The USAR is able to recruit thousands of new service members from the AC in part as a result of their own end-strength reductions. Pressure on Army Reserve end strength could continue with proposed budget reductions and implementation of sequestration that reduces the budget in future years. Under one scenario end strength could drop to 195,000; and we could see a low of 185,000 under a worst-case scenario if Congress were to enforce sequestration.
Lt. Col. Alex McCullough gave an update on the Private Public Partnerships program which has been a focal point for the CAR. This program evolved from the Employer Partnership Program begun by the CAR’s predecessor, Lieutenant General Stultz. The current program has extensive outreach aimed at individual soldiers, leaders, and units. More than 6,000 employers have in one way or another signified their support for the USAR. A number of programs are resulting in USAR personnel being employed in excellent positions with civilian companies through this program. A dynamic discussion ensued with a number of the attendees offering support and making suggestions to assist the Private Public Partnership program.