DoD to Transform Reserve And Guard by Rebalancing Mission
By Sgt. 1st Class Doug Sample, USA
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Jan. 28, 2004 A "window of opportunity to transform and change our Guard and Reserve forever" exists this year and next, and the Defense Department has several initiatives under way to rebalance Guard and Reserve forces, the department's top reserve affairs official said here this week.
Thomas F. Hall, assistant secretary of defense for reserve affairs, told the Reserve Officers Association mid-winter conference that Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld is interested in transforming the Guard and Reserve "not tomorrow, but today," and that the fiscal 2005 defense budget will have significant rebalancing initiatives.
Hall said the department is studying ways to improve Guard and Reserve end strength, reduce multiple mobilizations of the same units and relieve stress on the force.
Hall, a retired Navy rear admiral, said DoD is moving toward increasing the base number of Guard and Reserve troops and is moving some of its missions and functions to active duty forces. The department has looked at about 300,000 military manpower positions for possible outsourcing to contractors.
Hall said he wanted to separate "fact from fiction" amid reports that Guard and Reserve units were being overused through multiple mobilizations, saying that some reports could not be further from the truth.
Hall said that since Sept. 11, 2001, about 352,000 Guardsmen and reservists have been mobilized. That number, he said, represents only 38 percent of the drilling reserves, not including Individual Ready Reserve members, while some media reports create the impression that "we've used them all up."
"We've got 62 percent of the Guard and Reserve that we haven't touched," he said.
Hall said Guard and Reserve members in that 62 percent who haven't been mobilized in the past 10 years have led his department to examine its mobilization patterns and policies. He said a review of mobilizations by Guard and Reserve troops over the past six years revealed that only 4 percent of the force has been affected by "multi-mobilizations." But, he added, the department is aware that's small consolation for those reserve component members who have been deploying.
"In that 4 percent, if you are one of that group that has been mobilized, two, three and four times, it's a problem," Hall said. "So we have looked at the stress on the force. We have defined it, and the message here is that it's a small group, but it's an important group."
Hall noted that those Guard and Reserve members called most for mobilization belong to units that specialize in mortuary, civil affairs, force protection and air traffic control. In those groups, he said, there is a need to "rebalance so that we do not mobilize those people over and over again. And we're committed to that, and that's going to be part of the rebalancing."
Hall said DoD also is looking into providing more predictability for Guard and Reserve members prior to deployment. He said Guard and Reserve members "need to know up front" when they're going to mobilize and for how long.
"We need to get to a predictability, a rotational base for both our active and reserve forces that provides that," he said. " Whether it's one (deployment) in six years, or one in five, that's extremely important."