Army operationalizing reserve component

By Elizabeth M. Collins and Gary SheftickOctober 10, 2008

FORSCOM operationalizes reserve component
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Army National Guard Director
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WASHINGTON (Army News Service, Oct. 10, 2008) - The Army is changing how it generates forces and is overhauling the National Guard and Reserve, said the commander of Forces Command Wednesday.

Gen. Charles C. Campbell told reporters during the Association of the United States Army annual meeting that transitioning the reserve component from a strategic reserve to an operational force is a crucial part of modernizing the Army.

"We will organize the Guard and Reserve along modular lines and equip (the reserve component) in ways that make it fully interoperable with the active component," Campbell said. "There are some costs associated with that that are pretty significant, but nonetheless, at end state, our intent is to modularize the Guard and Reserve."

It's difficult and complex to operationalize the reserve component, Campbell said Tuesday at the AUSA Land Warfare Forum on the subject. But he emphasized that it's crucial.

"Clearly what is required is adequate equipment that enables home-station training" at reserve centers and armories prior to mobilization, Campbell said. He added that the Guard and Reserve must also be equipped and trained for homeland defense and homeland security.

Making sure reserve-component Soldiers have the right training and equipment is especially important because the Army relies on them so much today, and because in January of 2007, the secretary of defense shortened National Guard and Reserve mobilizatins to one year for both time in theater and training at mobilization stations. So the Army needs to make training time count, he said.

Lt. Gen. Michael Rochelle, the Army's deputy chief of staff for personnel, G-1, said that prior to 2001, the Army Reserve and Guard was primarily considered a strategic reserve. Under the mobilization concept, if the balloon went up, units would be called up for the duration of a war plus six months. But that's not how they're used today, he said, with Guard and Reserve units doing rotations to theater and back.

"The Cold War mentality .. simply doesn't work in the operational environment," Rochelle said.

Because operationalizing the whole reserve component at once could cost about $28 billion, Campbell said that right now the Army is modernizing and updating National Guard and Reserve units that have been alerted for deployment.

According to Campbell, since 2001, more than 600,000 reserve-component Soldiers have been mobilized, with 92 out of 105 National Guard brigades and a comparable percentage of the 60-plus Army Reserve brigades expected to be modularized by the end of 2009.

"Tremendous progress has been made," he said. "We certainly can be blessed as a nation for the citizen Soldiers who stand in our ranks...and have answered repetitively our nation's call. They have performed splendidly and transparently. There is no longer a differentiation between Guard and Reserve and active component. It is American Soldiers doing our nation's bidding and doing it in a way that is very notable and very conspicuous for the quality of service...and the quality of young men and women who stand in our ranks."

When National Guard and Reserve units are notified for deployment, it is after the ARFORGEN, or Army force generation process, used to prepare units for deployments based on combatant commanders' requirements.

Under ARFORGEN, units are placed in three categories based on when they're expected to be available for deployment. Units are placed in the reset/train pool after returning from a deployment and their primary mission is to rebuild and recuperate, while remaining available for disaster relief. As they prepare for future missions and undergo collective training, units move to the Ready Force pool. When they are ready to redeploy, they go back to the available force pool.

ARFORGEN synchronizes the Army modernizing, organizing, manning, training and equipping systems. The program, Campbell said, was especially successful during the surge in 2007, when ARFORGEN allowed FORSCOM to identify 30,000 additional troops and coordinate their deployment to Iraq.

"Had we not had a process like ARFORGEN, we might not have been able to deploy the capabilities and the capacities that were requested by the combatant commander in the timelines that they needed," he added.

As the Army continues to fulfill, re-examine and adjust its requirements over the next year, Campbell said the Army hopes reserve-component Soldiers will soon be able to spend four years at home for every year of deployment, and that active-component Soldiers will be able to spend two years at home between deployments.

The training battalions that prepare Reserve Soldiers for deployments need to be operationalized as well, said Lt. Gen. Jack Stultz, chief of the Army Reserve and commander of U.S. Army Reserve Command.

"In the Army Reserve, we have a lot of generating force, as well as expeditionary force," Stultz said. He said that some Reserve drill sergeants and trainers have been on active duty for four years. "The generating force needs to be operationalized as well," he said.

Stultz talked about recruiting and partnerships with employers. He has formed a partnership with dozens of employers across the nation in which companies will hire Reserve Soldiers after they finish their active duty. He said the next step is figuring out how to share health benefits, insurance and retirement benefits between the Army and the private sector.

Lt. Gen. Clyde Vaughn, director of the Army National Guard, said that reorganizing and transforming his force included closing more than 150 armories. He said it was painful, but it enabled reorganizing a force that a few years ago was understrength and overstructured. It enabled filling units to 91 percent, he said.

Lt. Gen. Rochelle said it's important to streamline the way Guard and Reserve Soldiers are brought on active duty. He said there's currently 14 different categories of active duty for the components, to include Active Duty for Training, Active Duty Special Work and more. He said that should be streamlined to three or maybe even one.

"It's either active duty or it's not," he said.

Rochelle also said that streamlining the way to bring Individual Ready Reserve and Retired Reserve Soldiers onto active duty will be a force multiplier.

Lt. Gen. James D. Thurman, deputy chief of staff for G-3/5/7, said that operationalizing the force will "change the paradigm."