Raven launch
Cpl. Tomas Kleefisch, a military policeman assigned to Company B, 1-172nd Cavalry Squadron, 86th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, of the Vermont National Guard, launches the RQ-11 Raven into the twilight skis of Afghanistan, April 14, 2010. Kleefisch is using the Raven is to gather video surveillance around the compound, where he and the rest of his platoon spent the night.

WASHINGTON (April 28, 2010) -- The military's National Guard and reserve units need more funding to reflect the operational readiness they have proven in Iraq and Afghanistan, rather than the ready-reserve model for which their current funding provides, reserve-component leaders told Congress yesterday.

Lt. Gen. Jack C. Stultz, chief of the Army Reserve, told the House Armed Services Committee's readiness subcommittee that the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks forever changed the way the reserves support regular forces.

"Operational demands for Army Reserve support have been heavy and enduring," Stultz said in prepared testimony. "The reality is current operations are consuming Army Reserve readiness as fast as we can build it."

As those demands increased, he said, "it became ever apparent we could no longer function as a part-time strategic reserve."

An operational Army Reserve is a good return on investment, Stultz said. The Army Reserve's $8.2 billion appropriation last year represented only four percent of the total Army budget, yet the it supplied seven to eight brigade-sized elements each year, and 29,000 reservists have deployed since 9/11, he said.

"We can continue providing that positive return on investment to the nation when the Army Reserve is given the proper resources to succeed," the general said. He asked that Congress continue to provide appropriations for reservists to train on the latest combat equipment before they deploy to a war zone.

Maj. Gen. Raymond W. Carpenter, acting director of the Army National Guard, also spoke of the Guard as an operational force greatly changed in the past decade. With nearly 53,000 Guardsmen serving in harm's way, he said, "the Army National Guard is accessible and has met every request for forces to date."

Even with the high operational tempo, Carpenter said, the Army Guard has a 116 percent re-enlistment rate, proving that Guardsmen want to be part of an operational force.

"As long as our Soldiers are doing meaningful missions and provided resources such as equipment and training facilities to accomplish those missions, Army National Guard Soldiers continue to be an operational part of the national defense solution," he said.

Air Force Lt. Gen. Harry M. Wyatt III, director of the Air National Guard, said that since 9/11, the Air Guard has "increasingly and dramatically" become more of an operational force. Of more than 146,000 airmen the Guard has deployed overseas since the terrorist attacks, 75 percent volunteered for those missions and 60 percent are on their second or third combat deployment, he said.

The Air National Guard provides one-third of the regular Air Force capabilities for less than seven percent of the total service budget, Wyatt said. If the Air Guard force were full-time active duty, he said, its personnel budget would be $7.62 billion instead of its current $4.77 billion.

Air Guardsmen train to the same standards as regular airmen, but have not been allocated enough training slots, resulting in hundreds of shortfalls, Wyatt said. The reason for the shortfalls, he said, include increased Air Force manning, growth in emerging mission areas, and increasing Air Force basic training from six to eight and a half weeks.

Also, Wyatt said, the Air Guard needs more funding for special pay and bonuses. He cited an Air Guardsman who recently returned from his fifth deployment to Afghanistan, where he was a tactical air control party journeyman who directed close-air support in Kunar province, as an example to illustrate his point. With his skills, Wyatt said, the Guard could offer that airman a $15,000 bonus to re-enlist for six years, while the regular Air Force could offer him a $90,000 bonus to re-enlist for three years.

The Air Guard also lags behind the active duty in aircraft and equipment, Wyatt said.

"If the Air National Guard maintains its pace as an operational force," he said, "we will need to increase our investment in this critical area."

Page last updated Mon May 3rd, 2010 at 11:04