Pentagon Salutes Outstanding Employers
By Linda D. Kozaryn
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Nov. 7, 2000 Employer support for the reserve components is vital to the nation's defense, according to Charles Cragin, principal deputy assistant defense secretary for reserve affairs.
Employer support for the reserve components is vital to the nation's defense, Charles Cragin, principal deputy assistant defense secretary for reserve affairs, said Nov. 2, 2000. During a ceremony at the Pentagon, Cragin presented awards honoring employers who have provided outstanding support to the Guard and Reserve. Photo by Linda D. Kozaryn
(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
Without the reserve components, the military could not accomplish its mission, he said during a Nov. 2 award ceremony honoring employers who provide outstanding support for the reserves.
Cragin knows first hand what it takes to be in the reserves. He recently retired as a Naval Reserve captain with 36 years service. During that time, he's witnessed the nation's steadily increasing reliance on the reserve component and how it affects employers.
"When you look at our military today," he said, "you see a force that is being utilized phenomenally different than it was just a decade ago, a force that is a million fewer than it was just a decade ago. The nation now relies on the all-volunteer force in ways unthinkable during the Cold War. The reserve components make up 50 percent of the total force.
Ten years ago, the reserve components had 300,000 more members than there are today, he noted. They contributed a million duty days a year to the active component. For the last four years -- with 300,000 fewer members -- the reserve components contributed 13 million duty days a year to the active force.
"That's the equivalent of adding 35,000 men and women to the active component," Cragin pointed out. "We couldn't do that … if we did not have supportive employers, supportive supervisors -- people who understand that this really is a symbiotic relationship between employers and the men and women they employ."
Reserve members make up 19 percent of the Navy, Marine Corps and Coast Guard; 33 percent of the Air Force; and 54 percent of the Army. More than half the Air Force refueling capability is embedded in its Air National Guard and Air Force Reserve. All the Navy's heavy logistics airlift capability is in the Naval Reserve.
Nearly half the Army's attack helicopter battalions are in the Army National Guard and Army Reserve. About 94 percent of the Army's field artillery brigades are in the Army National Guard. The Army National Guard and the Army Reserve provide 82 percent of the public affairs support. Army civil affairs units -- almost exclusively in the reserve components -- are constantly called up for contingencies.
Cragin said the term "weekend warrior" should be removed from vocabularies. "It doesn't accurately reflect the contribution these men and women make, and they make it more than one weekend a month." Air Force Reserve and Air National Guard members fly eight to 12 days each month, for example. "They couldn't do that without the support of their employers."
The Texas Guard’s 49th Division deployment to Bosnia, is another example. The unit commanded all U.S. military forces and multinational forces in the American sector. "Texas couldn't have done it without the phenomenal support of employers."
The nation's greater reliance on the reserve component means greater sacrifice for employers, Cragin said. "We understand and appreciate that there is no sort of redundancy in employment situations today," he said. "When we ask an employer to give up an employee, we are asking that employer to make a very specific and very personal contribution within the confines of that company."
Rather than complain about the economic hardship they face, he added, many corporate leaders see reserve call-ups as an opportunity to serve America.
For more information on the ESGR go to: www.esgr.org.