New Reserve Official Wants 'Seamless Transition' for Troops
By Sgt. 1st Class Kathleen T. Rhem, USA
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Sept. 4, 2001 - DoD needs to streamline the process for reserve component service memb, Sep. 4, 2001 DoD needs to streamline the process for reserve component service members to come on active duty, the acting assistant secretary of defense for reserve affairs said.
"I've been told there are 32 ways to come on active duty depending upon what organization you're in and where you're going and for how long," Craig Duehring told members of the press Aug. 30. Duehring is the newly appointed principal deputy assistant secretary of defense for reserve affairs.
"We've got to ... try to reduce that number with a goal of making it a very seamless transition," he said.
Duehring was discussing issues that face the reserve components during a media roundtable designed to introduce him to the Pentagon press corps. He said health care is another major concern facing troops transitioning onto active duty. These aren't new issues, but ones Duehring said need to be a priority in his office.
Employer support of Guardsmen and reservists is also a serious issue. "... If you lose ... the support of the employer, you lose the Reservist or the Guardsman. If you lose the Reservist or the Guardsman, you lose your force. If you lose your force, you lose the war. It's as simple as that," Duehring said.
He said identifying potential problems reserve component troops might have before an actual call-up is the best way to deal with them. "So we try to get ahead of those problems by finding out who the employers are, talking to them, explaining to them, you know, what is expected, what we'd like for them to be able to do, what's going to happen to their people," Duehring said. "We try to give them as much warning as possible as to when their people might be called up and how long they might be gone."
This is especially important because reserve forces are deploying so much more now than before the Gulf War. He mentioned that Virginia's 29th Infantry Division is preparing to deploy to Bosnia, and that six of the next nine rotations to Bosnia will be headed by National Guard or reserve units.
Duehring spent 18 years in the Air Force, including two tours in Southeast Asia. He said he believes the National Guard and reserve attract "perhaps a different kind of person" than the active duty forces.
"These are people who still have close ties with their communities but feel a need (and) a desire to go out and serve their country," he said. "(They) have this loyalty to community, loyalty to states, loyalty to family, but for one reason or another just can't get involved full-time in the regular uniformed services."