Cycles to Enhance Army Reserve Readiness, Predictability
By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Dec. 27, 2005 The Army Reserve is instituting five-year readiness cycles to ensure a steady supply of deployment-ready forces while bringing more predictability to reservists, their families and their civilian employers, a top Army Reserve general said.
The Army Reserve Expeditionary Force provides a new model for how reservists will be organized, equipped, trained and mobilized in the future, said Army Brig. Gen. Richard J. Sherlock, the Army Reserve's new deputy chief, during a recent interview with the Pentagon Channel and the American Forces Press Service.
Almost all Army Reserve units will be assigned to an Army Reserve Expeditionary Force package, which follows a five-year cycle to prepare for a potential deployment, the general explained.
During the first year of the cycle, members will focus on individual training: schools, qualification courses and training programs that range from initial military training to basic and advanced officer and noncommissioned officer courses to Command and General Staff College, Sherlock said.
During the next three years, soldiers will build on their individual training by moving through a variety of individual and collective unit training events. These will culminate with certifying events that demonstrate that unit members are trained and ready to perform their mission, Sherlock said.
During the fifth year of the cycle, these fully trained troops will become part of a ready pool available for missions, whether stateside or overseas, he said.
The Army Reserve Expeditionary Force model will bring structure and continuity to reservists' training while eliminating some of the uncertainty they face about potential deployments, Sherlock said.
"We're trying to put predictability in our soldiers' lives, where they know that one year out of every five, they will be eligible for a deployment somewhere," he said. "It doesn't say that they will be (deployed). It says they would be in a pool and would be ready for that."
The new five-year model is expected to spread deployments more evenly throughout the Army Reserve force and help the Army better allocate its resources to deploying units and soldiers.
It's also expected to help bring more balance to what Sherlock describes as the "three-legged stool" that's critical to the reserve components: not only its soldiers, but also the families and civilian employers who support them. "We can't perform our mission unless we keep all three of those legs of the stool ... in balance," Sherlock said.
The new model represents another step forward in the Army Reserve's transformation to a 21st-century force able to better complement the active Army, he said.
"We've moved in many ways from being a strategic reserve, or a force that is supplementary, to an operational reserve or force that is complementary to our Army," he said.
This transformation has been under way for the past decade, with particular progress during the past five years, Sherlock said. "We've been conducting operations, operating with the Army side by side as a complementary force, in essence, for over 10 years now," he said.
The result, he said, is an Army Reserve force that's more experienced, better trained and more ready than ever before.
The challenge ahead, as these combat veterans return home to their units, will be to continue offering them rewarding military careers.
"Our challenge as we go to the future is to continue to provide meaningful training opportunities for them ... so they can keep that level of proficiency and interest in staying with ... the finest Army in the world," Sherlock said.
As the Army Reserve has transitioned from a back-up force to a full partner in U.S. national defense, its active-component counterparts have taken note, he said.
"Our soldiers are performing on the battlefield with the active and Guard counterparts every single day, and every officer, every NCO, every leader I have talked to ... has said the same thing: 'I can't tell the difference, when I talk to a group of soldiers, who is active, Reserve, National Guard,'" Sherlock said.
"And I think it shows the progress of having an 'Army of One,'" he said. We are all supporting the same Army and ... conducting the same operations and supporting the war on terror as an Army, as opposed to different components of an Army."