New Command to Streamline Reserve Medical Management
By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Oct. 14, 2005 A new Army Reserve command that streamlines the way medical forces are trained and managed is slated to stand up this weekend in Pinellas Park, Fla.
The new Army Reserve Medical Command, to activate during Oct. 16 ceremonies, will provide command and control for more than 28,000 soldiers in 258 medical units across the United States and Puerto Rico, its commander, Army Maj. Gen. Kenneth Herbst, said during an interview with the Pentagon Channel and the American Forces Press Service.
The new command represents part of the transformation effort under way in the Army Reserve, with a move toward managing forces by function, not just geography, he said.
The standup dovetails with an Armywide transformation to a modular force, and aims to prepare Army Reserve medical practitioners to deploy more quickly and in smaller, more precisely organized units better adapted to a specific mission.
With its headquarters at the new C.W. Bill Young Armed Forces Reserve Center, the command will centrally manage all Army Reserve medical units and soldiers and ensure they're fully trained to carry out their missions, Herbst explained. This includes not just medical expertise, he said, but also the soldier skills required to survive in a combat environment and carry apply that expertise.
"Most Army Reserve soldiers in the medical field (practice their specialties) on a day-to-day basis, but you also have to be able to perform your warrior skills, the collective unit skills," Herbst said. "And that's absolutely critical."
So critical, in fact, that the motto of the new Army Reserve Medical Command is "warrior medics," he said.
In addition to headquarters operations, the new headquarters facility will house a clinical operational equipment set, a readily deployable 44-bed combat support hospital, which its 196 members will be prepared to deploy within 24 to 72 hours, as needed, Herbst said.
Consolidating the Army Reserve's medical expertise in one command will help short-circuit the mobilization timelines required to bring these reservists onto active duty and reduce the bureaucracy required to tap reservists with specific skills, he said.
It also will encourage the training of reservists as teams, not just as individuals, so they're better prepared to carry out their missions when deployed, particularly in a hostile environment.
Operations in both Iraq and Afghanistan have sent a clear message about the tremendous capabilities reserve medical professionals bring to the force, Herbst said, noting that many reservists are leaders in the civilian medical field.
"Our surgeons are very often the surgeons who are directing the trauma training programs at the best institutions in this country," he said.
While bringing these high-level skills to the military medical system, these medical practitioners also enrich the civilian medical community by sharing the expertise they gain through military medicine, Herbst said. "So it's a dual enriching environment" for both medical communities, he said.
This enrichment helps ensure that the military upholds its long tradition of taking care of its troops.
"George Washington said that the obligation of every commander is to provide for the health of the soldiers," Herbst said. "And I think that's what makes our Army such a great Army-supporting our soldiers. Every soldier knows that the finest medical care available is available right up to the front lines."