Army to Ensure Reserve Components Fully Manned, Trained, Equipped
By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Feb. 2, 2006 As current recruiting successes continue, the Army will ensure the reserve-component force gets the full funding it requires, Army leaders told Pentagon reporters today.
Army Chief of Staff Gen. Peter J. Schoomaker briefs reporters on the Army reorganization initiative during a Pentagon press briefing Feb. 2. Fully funding the National Guard and Reserve components to bring them up to the standards of the regular Army in terms of personnel, equipment and training is, one of the key provisions. Schoomaker was joined at the briefing by the Army National Guard Director Lt. Gen. Clyde A. Vaughn and Chief of the Army Reserve Lt. Gen. James R. Helmly. Photo by R. D. Ward
(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
"To be clear, we have no intention of cutting the number of Guard or Reserve brigades, reducing the number of Guard or Reserve soldiers or cutting the level of Guard or Reserve funding," Gen. Peter J. Schoomaker, Army chief of staff, said.
Rather, Schoomaker said, the Army is intent on building reserve-component units that, like their active-duty counterparts, are fully manned, trained, equipped and led for the missions they'll face in the 21st century.
Widespread media reporting that the president and Defense Department are planning to cut the National Guard and its budget are flat-out wrong, Schoomaker said.
These reports stem from a Jan. 18 news conference in which Army Secretary Francis J. Harvey described plans in the soon-to-be-released Quadrennial Defense Review to transform the Army National Guard.
Initial plans had called for increasing the number of brigade combat teams in the Guard from 15 to 34, Harvey told reporters. But while the National Guard will continue to maintain 106 brigades, as planned, the breakdown will now be 28, not 34, brigade combat teams and 78 support brigades.
The change is designed to make the Guard better able to carry out not just its overseas operational missions, but also its critical homeland defense missions, Harvey explained.
The combat support units to be added to the Guard include military police, engineer, chemical, air defense and civil affairs units, all important to homeland defense missions.
"Contrary to what some have heard, we are not cutting the number of brigades," Schoomaker reiterated today. The Guard will remain at 106 brigades, 28 brigade combat teams and 78 support brigades of varying types, he said. The Army Reserve will retain 58 supporting brigades.
"The only thing that will change is the mix of these components and the mix of units," Schoomaker said.
Army Lt. Gen. James R. Helmly, chief of the Army Reserve, agreed that the restructuring plan will help make the Army more ready and responsive to the threats it will face through the century. He emphasized that "bigger is not better," and that capability will be the critical factor that enables the Army to keep its edge.
To ensure proper funding of this rebalanced force, the Army will fund the National Guard and Reserve to their actual strength but will increase this funding as required as the force grows to its full congressionally mandated strength, Schoomaker explained.
The Army National Guard has 333,000 members on the rolls, but is authorized by law to reach 350,000 soldiers, Schoomaker said. The Army Reserve has 188,000 members but can recruit up to 205,000 soldiers.
"Although our budget has programmed funding for soldiers in uniform, we have committed to funding the Guard and Reserve to the level to which they can recruit up to their congressionally mandated end strengths," Schoomaker said. "From a management perspective, this only makes sense," he said.
Army Lt. Gen. Clyde A. Vaughn, director of the Army National Guard, expressed little doubt that the Guard can reach its strength goals. "I can tell you, we're setting all kinds of records right now," he said of the Guard's recruiting effort.
A properly balanced, properly funded reserve-component force will ensure that the Army is prepared to face the challenges ahead, both overseas and at home, Schoomaker said.
It will also ensure continued modernization of the force, he said. The National Guard alone has budgeted $21 billion for equipment modernization from 2001 to 2005 - a fourfold increase from the 1999 period, he said.
Schoomaker praised the role the reserve components are playing in the war on terror and emphasized that the Guard and Reserve will continue to play a critical role in national defense. "The Army Reserve and National Guard are no longer a strategic reserve with months to prepare its people and equipment for deployment," he said. Today, he said, they must be ready to react quickly for wartime deployments and immediately to domestic missions.