Reserve Chiefs Report Funding Needed to Maintain Manpower, Readiness
By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, April 11, 2007 Today’s citizen-soldiers, -sailors, -airmen and -Marines are committed to serving the country, but they need the manpower, training and equipment required to carry out their missions, their chiefs told Congress today.
The top officers in the Army Reserve, Naval Reserve, Air Force Reserve and Marine Forces Reserve urged the Senate Appropriations Defense Subcommittee to support the reserve budget requests to maintain viable reserve forces.
Lt. Gen. Jack Stultz, the Army Reserve chief, noted his force’s 22,000 soldiers are deployed in Iraq, Afghanistan and 18 other countries worldwide. That’s in addition to about 7,500 Army Reservists mobilized stateside in support of the global war on terror, he said.
Despite equipment shortages within the force, no troops go to war without the proper equipment and training they need, Stultz assured the senators.
What suffers, he said, is stateside training. Too many troops are forced to train with old equipment unlike what they’ll use during their deployments.
In terms of manpower, the Army Reserve is experiencing a reversal of past trends, Stultz told the senators. In the past, the active Army provided a pipeline for Army Reserve units. Now, Army Reservists are increasingly joining the active Army. That’s a positive phenomenon for the Army, he said, but backfires for the Reserve in terms of readiness.
Vice Adm. John Cotton, chief of the Naval Reserve, joined Stultz in reporting that the operating tempo is as high as ever, making manpower and readiness the biggest challenges facing reserve leaders.
The Naval Reserve is “more ready than we have ever been,” he said, and better integrated into supporting the fleet and combatant commanders. His concern, he told the senators, is “where we are going to find the people to man the force in the future.”
With a tough recruiting market and high retention within the active force, Cotton said it’s challenging to keep the steady stream of new recruits needed in the Naval Reserve. The force might have to resort to “finder’s fees” that have proven successful in getting soldiers to refer potential Army recruits, he said.
Marine Lt. Gen. John Bergman, the Marine Forces Reserve commander, said his deployed troops have performed “spectacularly.”
He credited the close relationship between the active and reserve forces -- with equipment bought and distributed through one Marine Corps channel -- with ensuring the reservists’ success. “It will always have its challenges, but the bottom line is there is a mentality that seeks to balance putting the right equipment in the right hands at the right time,” he said.
Lt. Gen. John Bradley, chief of the Air Force Reserve, said the reserve is a vital part of the Air Force that’s fully integrated into its operations. Air Force leaders “want us to be involved in every part of every mission the Air Force conducts,” he said.
Bradley urged the senators to provide adequate funding for the Air Force Reserve to continue its modernization program so it can continue to build its combat capability.
That funding supports airmen involved in combat operations but also has a direct impact on deployed ground forces, he said. “Every dollar helps soldiers and Marines on the ground in Iraq and Afghanistan every day,” he said.
“And I ask you to continue to help us in that regard because we need to continue to modernize our fleet of aircraft so that we can continue to provide the right kind of close-air support for those soldiers and Marines.”