Reserve Chiefs Press for More DOD Call-Up Authority
By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Jul. 29, 2011 Reserve-component leaders made the case this week for legislative changes that would give Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta more flexibility in using Guard and reserve members to support theater security cooperation and other military missions around the world.
Testifying before the House Armed Services Committee’s military personnel subcommittee, the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps and Coast Guard leaders cited the reserve components’ vast experience supporting a broad array of contingency missions.
Particularly in light of looming budgetary constraints, they said, it’s foolhardy not to enable the Defense Department to take full advantage of these capabilities.
DOD has asked for authority to mobilize up to 60,000 reserve-component members involuntarily for 365 days to support unnamed operations other than war.
Under current law, Guardsmen and reservists must use annual training days for these missions. This, officials said, limits not only what operations they are able to support, but also how effective the engagement can be.
Air Force Gen. Craig R. McKinley, the National Guard Bureau chief, said changing current call-up authorities will provide DOD “assured access” to reserve-component forces. “This proposal would ensure the secretary of defense can support combatant commanders’ needs for missions other than war,” he told the panel.
State adjutants general are staunch supporters of the plan, Army Maj. Gen. Raymond W. Carpenter, chief of the Army National Guard, told the panel.
“It will allow for the continued critical contributions of our soldiers and units and the effective use of soft power that is theater security and cooperation in the hope of reducing the possibility of a mobilized military response in the future,” he said.
The proposal “signifies a fundamental shift in the use of the reserves,” noted Vice Adm. Dirk J. Debbink, chief of the Naval Reserve. It recognizes, he said, the “high level of expertise resident in our Guard and Reserve forces,” as well as reserve-component members’ desire to “continue performing real and meaningful work within the … total force.”
Lt. Gen. Jack C. Stultz, the Army Reserve chief, said the measure also will help retain members not content to sit on the sidelines.
Reservists say they want three things: predictability so they can balance their civilian and military responsibilities, meaningful training, and relevant missions, Stultz told the panel.
“Use me. Don’t put me back on the shelf,” he said his soldiers tell him. “And that’s why this access issue is such a key issue. … We’ve got to continue to use them in a meaningful way, or otherwise we’ll lose them and we can’t afford to lose that national treasure.”
In light of the reserve components’ increasing role in global operations -- a role likely to expand if Congress makes the legislative changes requested -- Air Force Reserve Chief Lt. Gen. Charles E. Stenner Jr. said it’s critical that these forces have sufficient manpower and resources to stay mission-ready.
“In a time of constrained budgets and higher costs, in-depth analysis is required to effectively prioritize our needs,” he said. “We must all appreciate the vital role that reserve components play in supporting our nation’s defense and concentrate our resources in areas that will give us the most return on our investment.”