More Missions for National Guard and Reserve
By Linda D. Kozaryn
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Feb. 14, 1996 Reserve component units can expect to see more deployments in the year ahead, according to Defense Secretary William J. Perry.
Unified commands called reserve component forces for 97 missions in 1995. The reserves can expect up to 167 missions in 1996, Perry told the Adjutants General Association of the United States Feb. 7. Commanders are calling National Guard and Reserve personnel for real world missions, not makework, he said.
When Perry took the reins at DoD, he said, people told him hed face problems with the Guard and the Reserve. "I have to tell you that after three years," he said, "to me, the Guard and Reserve are not a problem, they are a solution."
DoD began increasing Guard and Reserve participation in active duty missions last year both to boost their proficiency and readiness and to use their talents, Perry said. Reducing deployment pressures on the active duty force was another goal.
The program has proven successful, Perry said. Commanders are spending time, effort and money to use reserve component forces. Reserve and Guard forces are serving in traditional stateside roles, and they are now joining active duty counterparts serving overseas.
The National Guard made history last June, when the 4th Battalion, 505th Infantry, deployed to the Sinai for multinational peacekeeping duties, Perry said. The units service demonstrated the Guards ability to deal with postCold War missions and play an even greater role in national defense, he said.
Perry said he recently traveled to the Balkans, where reserve component members serve from the flightlines in Aviano, Italy, to the supply lines in Germany and Hungary to the front lines in Bosnia. Reserve component personnel are airlifting supplies aboard C17 transports. They are providing aeromedical and tanker support. Perry called the reserve contribution crucial.
"Our equipment, our training and our people are the best in the world," he said. "This goes both for the active and for the reserve components, and our challenge is to make wise and full use of all of these assets. That means we need to involve the Guard and Reserve more deeply in the ongoing missions of our military."
DoD has added $25 million over the next two years to help commanders make more use of the Guard and Reserve, according to Perry. Success will depend on ensuring the program increases overall warfighting capability and reserve component readiness. Deployments should not hurt reserve recruitment and retention as long as members' quality of life is protected, Perry said.
"We can provide more support and outreach to Guard and Reserve families when their head of the household is on deployment," he said. "We can also give employers better warning when we send their employees on deployment, and give employers a voice in our Guard and Reserve policies."