Myers Tells Guard Generals Total-Force Concept Working
By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service
SCOTT AIR FORCE BASE, Ill., April 1, 2005 The experiences in the war on terrorism, especially in Iraq and Afghanistan, show that "the total-force (concept) is working," the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said to a meeting of state adjutants general here today.
Air Force Gen. Richard B. Myers told the gathering that the concept especially "works overseas, where the rubber meets the road."
Myers said it was important he attend the meeting, first to thank the state adjutants general for their leadership, but mostly to hear their concerns. The chairman said he can only fight for the needs of the adjutants general in the Pentagon if he knows their concerns and is armed with facts.
An adjutant general is the top official in each state's National Guard. Representatives from 45 adjutant general offices attended the conference, sponsored by Air Force Gen. John Handy, the commander of U.S. Transportation Command. Representatives from U.S. Army Forces Command and the U.S. Coast Guard also attended.
Myers told the generals that while changes have been made, more lie ahead. He said DoD must look for more creative ways to mobilize and use the reserve components and that this year's Quadrennial Defense Review will point the way to even more change.
And this is important, he added. "We have got to come out of this as robust as we went in," Myers said. "Innovation will become the coin of the realm."
The chairman used the overhaul of the Naval Reserve's public affairs community as an example. The Navy's chief of information went to the chief of naval operations with a proposal. He wanted to take the 400 Reserve public affairs officer slots and use them differently. He was able to cut the number in half, while putting them to better use.
Instead of serving one weekend a month and two weeks a year, Navy public affairs reservists are now all individual mobilization augmentees who report for three two-week periods each year. The officers get better training, they have more time to accomplish their mission, and all involved save money, Myers said, using it as an example of the innovation he said is necessary.
The adjutants general appeared to be worried about recruiting. One told the chairman the numbers he is seeing are like a "fire light" in the cockpit. Another general told the chairman that the good economy is affecting recruiting in his state.
All, however, seemed pleased with the retention picture. After the meeting, one adjutant general said the retention situation in units that had deployed to Afghanistan was better than that of the units that had not deployed.
"Some of that is financial -- the re-enlistment bonus is tax-free if you do it in a combat zone -- but most of it is because these soldiers flat enjoyed serving together," the officer said. He added that other AGs noticed the same tendency.
Myers said he had noticed it too. He told the AGs that he had re-enlisted 29 Indiana National Guard soldiers when he visited Camp Phoenix, Afghanistan, in March. The soldiers, part of the 76th Brigade Combat Team, are training the Afghan National Army.
The generals asked Myers about mobilization notification time, medical and dental reserve readiness, and the political situation in Iraq and how that affects force levels needed in the country.
Myers thanked the generals for their observations and questions. He said the reserve components are important to America, not only for their combat power, but because with every armory and airfield, they help tie Americans to their military.
He told the generals he would do all he can to help them and to continue smoothing the mobilization process. "Every time I visit troops overseas, I always ask who is in the reserve components," he said. "Usually, between a third to a half of the folks raise their hands. It shows the total force is working. We have got to make sure the reserve forces remain robust."