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DoD Celebrates Total Force

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Sept. 11, 1998 – "Last year at this time, we were darn close to shooting at each other," Deputy Defense Secretary John Hamre said Sept. 4 to assembled active and reserve component leaders. "We were too preoccupied with the fight [among ourselves] and took our eyes off the prize."

Hamre's remarks were part of a Pentagon ceremony marking the first anniversary of Defense Secretary William S. Cohen's "Seamless Total Force" memorandum. The memo recognized DoD's increasing reliance on reserve forces following the end of the Cold War. Cohen directed active and reserve component leaders to remove structural and cultural barriers that reduce readiness and bar interoperability.

Hamre said the memo forced Pentagon leaders to step back, look at basic principles and open up lines of communication. "[The memo] has been indispensable to the progress we have made in the last year," he said.

As signs of progress toward eliminating structural barriers, Hamre pointed to the Army's planning six National Guard enhanced readiness brigades and establishment of Guard teams to combat chemical and biological weapon attacks on the United States.

DoD got rid of a large cultural barrier when the Total Force green identity card replaced the red reserve forces card, he noted.

"The reserve [forces] are on duty around the world, all the time," said Charles Cragin, principal deputy undersecretary of defense for personnel and readiness. "When I go to Bosnia and meet with the troops, you can't tell the difference between active and reserve [component service members]. They are there to do a job, and all of them do it well.

"In the field, active duty [personnel] recognize that without the reserves, the military could not accomplish its missions," he said.

Cragin said the fiscal environment soured relations between the active and reserve components. In a time of smaller budgets, reserve leaders thought their concerns were ignored by active duty leaders, he said. Getting reserve leaders into the budgeting process early has helped alleviate these fears. The Cohen memo also pledged "to provide the resources needed to accomplish assigned missions."

"But this is not 'solved'," Cragin said. "This is a process we have to manage every day. The [Cohen] memo recognizes this and calls on all leaders to take ownership of the Total Force."

Hamre thanked all those involved for their contributions. "You were willing to say, 'I put on this uniform to do something bigger than win tactical battles within the 'Beltway'," he said. "I did this to protect and defend the Constitution of the United States."

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