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U.S. Army Reserve Streamlining Force, Helmly Says

By Steven Donald Smith
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Feb. 7, 2006 – The U.S. Army Reserve must modernize how it "manages manpower" to prepare for future missions and challenges, head of the Army Reserve Command, said here yesterday.

"We are streamlining the command and control structure of the Army Reserve," Army Lt. Gen. James R. Helmly said at the Reserve Officers Association's winter convention. "We need to move the reserve to the future as opposed to being comfortably ensconced in the past."

Helmly said he believes the future holds more nontraditional assignments. And in order to keep up with these changes, the Army Reserve must increase the number of ready and deployable soldiers and shift missions within the reserve to make its command and control more "efficient and effective."

A well-run and efficient organization boosts morale and helps with retention, the general said.

Force regeneration is a "challenge that has to be faced by the entire Army, not just the Army Reserve," he said. "We're facing it head on, but it's a difficult challenge."

Army Reserve numbers should be based on fully trained and deployable soldiers. Soldiers who are still being trained should not be counted as available strength, Helmly said.

The Army Reserve had been structured for 220,000 members, "but we were only authorized 205,000 end-strength, and out of the 205 (thousand) we really didn't have 205,000 available strength," he said. The Army Reserve currently has only 188,000 soldiers on its rolls.

He talked about soldiers who couldn't be counted as available because of issues such as pregnancy or board actions and those in the training base or even delayed in getting to it.

The Army Force Generation model - the strategy for providing combat support to combatant commanders worldwide - is a time-based and an event-driven model, Helmly said. "Time based, meaning that we modeled it over a five-year period. Event driven means is that you move through three phases based on your state of training readiness, not based on a time," he said.

For instance, a small civil affairs team might move from training to the "ready force pool" in a year, while a combat heavy engineering battalion might take a couple of years because of their size and complexity, he said.

"The intent here is to move into an available force pool not less than once every five years, and during that time either be deployed or be available for deployment within 96 hours of notification," Helmly said.

The general explained that this does not mean that every reserve soldier will only be mobilized every five years. "It's force management model, that will hopefully provide us some degree of measured stability and predictably for our soldiers, families and our employers in the future," he said.

Helmly said the Army Reserve will go from 10 regional readiness commands to four regional readiness sustainment commands. He explained that this is not just a combining of commands with name changes.

"It's a total abolishment of the RRCs and standing up of RRSCs, which are not intended to command forces, but rather to provide a stable platform for operations, maintenance and resourcing," he said.

The general also said training support divisions will be restructured and other "stuff" will "move around."

"The intent there is not to harvest combat power, but to harvest headquarters space ... to invest more of our resources in the operating formations where our soldiers really do the work out there," he said.

"We are today, I think Armywide, in a larger period of change than any time since the World War II era," Helmly concluded.

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Lt. Gen. James R. Helmly, USA

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