Guard, Reserve Make Valued Contributions to Terror War, Other Missions
By Gerry J. Gilmore
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, July 20, 2006 The reserve components have greatly contributed to the global war on terrorism, while also providing personnel for homeland security and disaster relief missions, senior officials told a congressionally chartered committee yesterday.
Today's reservists must be prepared to rapidly deploy anywhere in the world and be ready to respond to both homeland defense and disaster relief contingencies, Army Reserve Chief Lt. Gen. Jack C. Stultz told the Commission on the National Guard and Reserves at a hearing in San Antonio.
"Today's units must be prepared to and available to deploy with their full complement of trained soldiers and equipment whenever the nation calls," Stultz noted in prepared statements to the commission. The Army Reserve, he said, "continues to meet the challenges of (the war on terror), while simultaneously supporting missions at home and around the globe."
The Army Reserve has provided more than 157,000 soldiers for operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom, Stultz said, noting that more than 22,000 of these servicemembers are volunteers and have served more than one tour of duty.
In 2005, the Army Reserve provided two truck companies and five CH-47 Chinook helicopters and crews to Hurricane Katrina disaster relief efforts, Stultz said. The reservists transported more than 2,100 people and over 5,200 tons of cargo in that effort, he said.
The Army Reserve also is placing equipment across the Gulf Coast region in preparation for the 2006 hurricane season, Stultz said.
"The Army Reserve's ability to position capabilities, without regard to state borders and provide neighborhood-based support directly to our communities, states and federal agencies ensures (that) our commitment to our homeland endures even as we continue to support operations throughout the world," Stultz said.
Reserve sailors, too, are being utilized like never before, Vice Adm. John Cotton, chief of the Navy Reserve, said. On any given day some 15,000 naval reservists are providing support to the fleet in a variety of capabilities.
Today's Navy reservists are forward deployed and engaged in numerous important missions, Cotton said. Seebees are in Iraq, civil affairs sailors in Afghanistan, and customs inspectors in Kuwait, he said. Logistical aircrew and joint task force staff are serving in the Horn of Africa, he added. Other reserve sailors are performing disaster recovery operations in the United States and around the world, Cotton said.
The Marine Corps Reserve also is heavily involved in global war on terrorism operations, said Lt. Gen. Jack W. Bergman, commander of the Marine Corps Reserve. As of June 8, some 7,200 reserve Marines were activated in support of operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom, Bergman said.
Around 5,740 reserve Marines were serving in combat-tested ground, aviation and service support units, Bergman said. Another 1,500 or so are serving in higher-headquarters staff billets. Bergman said more than 40,000 Marine reservists have been activated for active duty since Sept. 11.
Reserve Marines are in the thick of the fight in Iraq's Anbar province, as well as participating in important missions in Afghanistan, Bergman said.
Bergman also praised the Marine reservists who assisted in disaster relief efforts along the Gulf Coast in the aftermath of hurricanes Katrina and Rita. The actions of these Marines contributed to "one of the great success stories associated with the nation's response to the destruction of the two hurricanes," he said.
The 106,000-plus members of the Air National Guard "are representing our nation on every continent, in every theater and in every operation," Lt. Gen. Craig R. McKinley, director of the Air National Guard, said.
Since Sept. 11, 2001, more than 38,000 Air National Guard members have been mobilized, McKinley said, with 60,000 servicemembers having volunteered for deployment. "Thousands have served on multiple deployments," McKinley pointed out. "Our militia airmen go above and beyond their required commitment."
At the peak of Operation Iraqi Freedom, the Air National Guard had mobilized more than 22,000 members, according to Air National Guard data. During Operation Iraqi Freedom the Air National Guard flew 43 percent of the fighter sorties, 86 percent of the tanker sorties and 39 percent of the airlift sorties.
During natural disasters "the National Guard is often the first to respond," McKinley pointed out. The Air National Guard's response to hurricanes Katrina and Rita was unprecedented, he said.
As part of Katrina and Rita relief operations, Air National Guard combat controllers set up and managed multiple helicopter landing zones involving some 3,200 flights, which evacuated more than 11,000 passengers, McKinley said.
"The next several years will offer new and unique opportunities for the Air National Guard," McKinley predicted.