Chu Outlines Challenges in Management of Reserve Forces
By K.L. Vantran
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Nov. 5, 2003 Recruiting and retention has "held up nicely despite stress on the force as a whole," Undersecretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness David Chu told members of the House Armed Services Committee here today.
And a survey of military personnel, active and reserve, which is done every four months, shows a "higher level of satisfaction with military life than three to four years ago," he added. "Their intentions to stay (in the military) remain strong."
"The nation can be proud of the service of its citizens in military uniform today," said Chu. "The force has done extraordinary things in the last two years."
Marine Gen. Peter Pace, vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, agreed and thanked the committee for its "strong support" of the armed forces. He singled out congressmen who have visited the troops, noting such visits make "a difference to them."
Chu explained charts showing the rise and decline of deployments to the U.S. Central Command area of operations since Sept. 11, 2001. He noted that in the next "six months or so" as forces rotate out of Iraq, there will be a temporary increase in the number of reserve mobilizations as units being prepared for deployment will be brought to active duty.
The undersecretary said there have been a series of challenges in managing the reserve forces. He said the goal is to give reservists at least 30 days' notice. Acknowledging that this was not always the case, Chu said, "We need to do better and I think the next round will be better."
He also spoke of the need to ensure that the "same people" are not called up time after time. Noting that since 1996 only 3 percent have been called up more than once for involuntary mobilizations, Chu said the record here is "quite good."
Chu also talked about getting the "right balance" in regard to types of units and individual skill sets. "Should we rebalance individual skills and unit structure of reserve and active forces?" he asked.
He said another challenge is to "set and meet expectations of reserve personnel regarding terms of service." After Sept. 11, 2001, reservists were called up for one year, he said. However, based on advice from commanders in the field who said they needed "continuity," the policy was changed so units in Iraq would serve "on the ground" for one year.