Reserves Play Key Role in U.S. Military Might, Mullen Says
By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Feb. 2, 2009 The reserve components are now an integral part of American military might, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff told the Reserve Officers Association here today.
More than 600,000 reservists have been called up to serve in the U.S. Central Command area since 2001, Navy Adm. Mike Mullen told about 2,000 members of the association. The reserve components serve vital roles in Iraq and Afghanistan and other areas of the globe.
Reservists play an increasingly important role in national defense. During the Cold War, the reserve components were a strategic reserve, only called up if the Soviets went over the East German border.
Mullen addressed the changing situations in Iraq and Afghanistan. “The elections in Iraq over the weekend were a signature event,” Mullen said. “The outcome in Iraq was positive for the people. As conditions permit, I would hope that we can continue to draw forces down, because we also have change in Afghanistan.”
As Afghanistan moves to the head of the queue for military resources, planners should keep in mind that the military cannot solve all problems. “Good governance is the lead issue in Afghanistan,” he said. “The Afghan people are the center of gravity in the country.”
Mullen said that when he visits troops overseas, he can’t tell just by looking at the troops which are active duty and which belong to the reserves. This says much about the integration between the active and reserve components.
“It is a clarion call to a future that is more and more integrated,” Mullen said.
Mullen stressed that the department must do more to address the problems of training, mobilization, deployment and demobilization, keeping the focus on reserve-component reintegration.
“One of the biggest concerns I have for the reserves is, you go to the fight for 12 months, you come back, you get off the airplane on Friday, and Monday you are in your job,” he said, noting that more has to be done to help these returning servicemembers.
“I am 100 percent convinced that if we get it right for our people and their families, we will be able to continue and sustain a military second to none,” Mullen said.
The department also must do more to evolve career fields in civil affairs, military police, logistics, intelligence and areas that are under-manned, yet in high-demand.
“We need to make sure we never forget the fallen and the families of the fallen,” Mullen said. “We must also do whatever it takes to take care of the people wounded in this conflict.”
This includes helping those suffering from post-traumatic stress and traumatic brain injury. The services and the Veterans Affairs Department must connect with people and give them a “lifeline or life preserver when problems crop up,” he said.
The military is operating in a time of tremendous change and officials are “dependent on our young leaders for their feedback and to translate the lessons we have learned in what is now our eighth year of war,” Mullen said.
He told the young officers to capture those lessons, and implored the seasoned leaders to listen.