Reserve, Active Components Will 'Rebalance'
By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Feb. 26, 2003 There will be a "rebalancing" of the missions between the active duty component and reserve components of the Total Force, said Thomas F. Hall, assistant defense secretary for reserve affairs.
Still, in the present crisis, the reserve components are doing great work for America, Hall said.
Rebalancing is at the fore because of the demands being placed on the reserve components. Hall said that following the Persian Gulf War the active force was cut 34 percent and the reserve components, 25 percent.
"We structured the forces to face what we thought the world would look like," he said. "Then, suddenly, 9-11, and the enemy was at the doorstep and the world was never going to be (the same)."
The problem is that a number of critical military specialties are concentrated in the reserves, so DoD finds itself calling up the same people over and over again, Hall said.
"We're going to have to take a look at that," he said. "We cannot have a situation where we call you, as a guardsman or reservist, every year for three or four years. You won't want to stay in the Guard and Reserve, and employers might worry about employing you."
He said the active and reserve components will work together to rebalance the workload. "This will be small numbers," he said. Some of the missions will move from the reserve components to the active duty side and vice versa.
Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld instigated the rebalancing because he is concerned about the effect repeated call-ups have on guardsmen and reservists, Hall said. "He wants us to get it right. He has challenged us to get it right, and we going to try to get it right," the assistant secretary said.
Hall, who served as chief of the Naval Reserve in the early 1990s, said the reserve components have come a long way in a short period. "The Guard and Reserve are not your father's or grandfather's Guard and Reserve," Hall said. The all-volunteer reserve components are trained to the same standards as their active duty counterparts. They fly the same aircraft, sail the same ships, drive the same tanks, operate the same equipment and carry the same weapons.
Hall spoke of visiting troops in the field and not being able to tell the difference between the reservists and active duty personnel. "They look the same," he said. "That's a wonderful thing that validates this total force that we have."
Currently, 168,083 reservists have been called to active duty. Hall said there are some guiding principles that he goes by. First, he said, the nation will ensure reservists have the right equipment, are called at the right time and sent on the right missions.
Taking care of the families of deployed reservists is another mission Hall says is crucial to the department. "Our commitment to those families is an important one," he said. The department will ensure that medical needs are met and that support across the spectrum is provided to the families.
He also said reservists must be assured that when their mission is done, "We're going to return you as soon as we can, and we're going to return you to a family that has been taken care of, and we're going to return you to an employer that will be grateful."
After the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, President Bush had the authority to call 1 million reservists to active duty for up to two continuous years. But he also noted the war on terrorism would be long and protracted. The nation's 1.2 million reserve component personnel can expect to play parts in the war on terror, Hall said.
"They'll be ready whenever the president needs them," he said.