Army Reserve Focuses on Shaping Force After Meeting New End Strength
By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, June 1, 2009 After reaching its new 206,000-member end strength objective a full year ahead of schedule, the Army Reserve has shifted its focus to shaping the force to ensure it has the proper mix of skills sets and experience levels, the Army Reserve chief told American Forces Press Service.
Army Lt. Gen. Jack C. Stultz lauded the Army Reserve’s increase of more than 20,000 soldiers during the past three years. The Army Reserve exceeded its fiscal 2008 goals by recruiting more than 44,000 soldiers and re-enlisting more than 16,000 soldiers.
“Today I can report to you that your Army Reserve is in excellent shape,” Stultz told the Senate Armed Services Committee’s personnel subcommittee during a March hearing when the Army Reserve had reached 204,000 members. “That’s up 7,000 this fiscal year on top of 7,000 last year,” he told the panel. “We’re growing at a tremendous pace, so recruiting is good, retention is good.”
This trend put the Army Reserve on solid footing to achieve its authorized 206,000 end strength a year before the 2010 target. It marks a stark contrast to three years ago, when Stultz assumed his post with a force of about 186,000 soldiers.
Stultz told American Forces Press Service he attributes this success to hard work and dedication by recruiters as well as efforts by reservists themselves. But he also pointed to the importance of recruiting and retention initiatives that supported the Army Reserve’s manning strategy. These include the Army Reserve Recruiter Assistant Program, which rewards soldiers, family members and Army civilians who support recruiting and retention efforts, and the Critical Skills Retention Bonus, which helps to retain soldiers in specific job specialties.
Stultz called these incentives as important to the Army Reserve now as when it was growing its force.
“Some people out there might say we’ve met our end strength and the economy is bad, so we don’t need to pay incentives to soldiers,” he said. “I say that’s not true. We might not need as many incentives to attract E-1s into the force, but I need them because I am continuing to shape the force.”
This involves training – and especially, retaining – soldiers in shortage military occupational specialties and encouraging those in over-strength MOSs to retrain into under-strength ones.
The Army Reserve also needs to fill gaps at the noncommissioned officer, captain and major levels, Stultz said. Even after reaching its new end strength, the Army Reserve still is short almost 10,000 captains and majors, Stultz told the Senate Armed Services Committee in March.
The ultimate benefit of the increased Army Reserve end strength won’t be immediate, because most of the newest reservists are junior enlisted soldiers, the general explained.
“It’s an investment for the future,” he said. “What we need now is to focus on growing our NCO corps and growing our captains and majors.”
One way Stultz intends to do that is by recruiting more prior-service soldiers.
“The Marines say, ‘Once a Marine, always a Marine,’” he said. “I like to say, ‘Soldier for life.’ We find a lot of soldiers out there who have left the uniform, but the uniform hasn’t left them. And when we talk to them, they say they miss it. We’re recouping some of them now.”