Military Looks at 'Rebalancing' Reserve Component, Active Force
By Kathleen T. Rhem
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Nov. 19, 2002 Certain military job specialties, including military police and civil affairs, are being overburdened in the reserve components and may need stronger representation in the active duty force, the Defense Department's senior adviser on reserve affairs said today.
Thomas F. Hall, assistant secretary of defense for reserve affairs, told a group of reporters today that repeated call-ups of certain specialties might eventually hurt recruiting and retention in the reserve forces.
Hall related his experiences last week in a St. Louis meeting with state representatives for the Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve program. He said employers generally support reserve duty by their workers, but at times it can become a burden, particularly for small businesses and private practices.
"When their reservist is mobilized for the first time, it's probably OK," Hall said the state employer representatives told him. "When they're mobilized for the second time, it might be OK. But when they're mobilized the third time in three years running, this causes a particular problem for the reservist, their family and the employers."
Still, he cautioned, service members shouldn't look for a mass exodus of specialties being moved from the reserve components to the active force. He called it more of a "rebalancing."
Hall was sworn in Oct. 9, but he was already familiar with issues facing reserve forces. He previously commanded the Naval Reserve for four years after a 34-year active duty career as a naval aviator.
He said the greatest challenge facing him in his job isn't necessarily about the numbers. Ensuring reserve forces are effective when called is much more important than how many there are, he remarked.
"The guiding principle for all of us should be that we have the right reservist with the right equipment (and) the right training at the right place at the right time to help make a difference in any conflict," he said.
Hall spoke of the heavy burden placed on the reserve components by the war on terrorism. Thousands were called to duty on or immediately after Sept. 11, 2001, when terrorists struck in New York and at the Pentagon.
Today, roughly 51,000 Guard and Reserve members are on active duty across the United States and around the world. At the peak of the call- up, nearly 100,000 reserve component members were activated. In all, roughly 130,000 reserve troops have served in support of operations Enduring Freedom and Noble Eagle.