By Rick Scavetta, U.S. Army AfricaMarch 6, 2010
VICENZA, Italy -- Senior Army leaders received an update on U.S. Army Africa's progress during recent visits to the command's headquarters at Caserma Ederle.
Thomas Lamont, assistant secretary of the Army for Manpower and Reserve Affairs, met with Maj. Gen. William B. Garrett III, commander of U.S. Army Africa. Discussions focused on the command's ongoing partnership engagements in Africa and a summary of Natural Fire 10, a successful humanitarian assistance and disaster relief exercise held in Uganda during October of 2009.
Lt. Gen. Jack C. Stultz, commanding general, U.S. Army Reserve Command and Command Sgt. Maj. Michael D. Schultz, the Army Reserve's senior noncommissioned officer, also met with U.S. Army Africa leaders and held talks with local Army Reserve Soldiers.
Army leaders understand that security, stability and peace in Africa are vital for African nations, the United States and the world, Lamont said. His two-day visit to U.S. Army Africa's headquarters gave Lamont a better understanding of the command's role in partnering with African nations to strengthen military capacity, he said.
"U.S. Army Africa is vital to the national security interests of our country in the years to come," Lamont said. "I've learned a lot and I'm very impressed with what I've seen here."
A career attorney, Lamont oversees civilian and military personnel interests for the active and Reserve force and is the Army's top civilian for manpower and structure policies, human resources, Soldier records and equal employment opportunity programs. Lamont, a retired Illinois National Guard officer, sees Soldiers from the Reserve component as a key part of U.S. Army Africa's missions, he said.
"Our Reserve force can play a great role in U.S. Army Africa's missions, bringing with them military skills and also skills from their civilian lives that apply to emerging nations on the African continent," Lamont said.
Before arriving in Vicenza, Stultz spent a week in East Africa visiting 130 Army Reserve Soldiers working in civil affairs teams. They met Reserve Soldiers in Kenya, Ethiopia, Uganda and Camp Lemonnier, Djibouti - home of Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa. Reserve teams are effective in applying unique approaches to countering violent extremism and deterring conflicts, Stultz said.
In Africa, it's often junior officers and noncommissioned officers leading small teams to organize projects that make a huge impact on people's lives, from improving schools to providing clean water, Stultz said. Reserve Soldiers are able to mentor Africans with more than just military experience, Schultz said.
"The added value is their civilian skills," Schultz said. "That is important."
At Caserma Ederle, during a town hall meeting with Reserve Soldiers within the Vicenza military community, Stultz shared his perspective of what his all-volunteer reserve force means to the United States.
"The Army Reserve today is positive investment," Stultz said. "Our Reserve Soldiers are dependable and ready when America calls."
Two Army Reserve units, the 772nd Civil Support Team and Company A, 457th Civil Affairs Battalion, drill in nearby Longare. They fall under the Kaiserslautern, Germany-based 7th Civil Support Command. In their civilian jobs, many work for U.S. Army Africa. Army Reserve units from the States augment the Vicenza garrison security force. The current rotation includes Soldiers from New York and New Jersey, who recently replaced a Reserve unit from Puerto Rico.
To accomplish Army missions, Reserve Soldiers often sacrifice time away from their family, income and civilian promotions, he said. Stultz also spoke about his command's efforts to balance Reserve force commitments with the lives of citizen Soldiers and their families.
Reserve Soldiers today joined to do more than just weekend drills and two-weeks of annual training, Stultz said. Right now, roughly 45,000 Reserve Soldiers are on active duty - a force larger than some nations' entire military, Stultz said.
"We have been transforming the Army Reserve over the last three years, from what used to be a strategic reserve to the force we have today - an operational force engaged around the world," Stutlz said. "We have forces in about 25 different countries now, to include U.S. Army Africa's area."
Reserve deployments may not mean supporting war efforts in Iraq or Afghanistan. Nor does Reserve duty mean serving one-year tours overseas. Reserve Soldiers may find themselves putting their skills to work in Africa, Stultz said.
"The skills sets and the capabilities of the Army Reserve, such as medical, engineering, civil affairs and logistics - these are valued here at U.S. Army Africa," Stultz said.