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Guard, Reserve Get New Role on Joint Staff

By Paul Stone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Jan. 13, 1998 – Reserve and National Guard forces soon will have a greater voice in military policy, planning and operations.

Defense Secretary William Cohen and Army Gen. Henry H. Shelton, chairman of the Joint Chiefs, have established two high-level posts on the joint staff to provide advice on issues affecting National Guard and Reserve forces.

Pentagon spokesman Ken Bacon said both slots will be filled by either a major general or rear admiral. One will serve as assistant to the chairman of the Joint Chiefs for National Guard matters, the other for Reserve matters. The positions were required by the fiscal 1998 National Defense Authorization Act.

Bacon said the new assistants will advise Shelton on reserve component affairs "as part of our continuing effort to make the total force work as well as possible -- that is, integrating Guard and reserves into the active duty force."

Shelton has requested nominations for the positions from the service secretaries. State governors, who have authority over the National Guard, will recommend candidates to the service secretaries for the Guard position. Shelton will make the final selections, and the assistants will serve for renewable two-year terms.

Beyond serving as general policy advisers, the assistants will participate in selected forums such as the Reserve Forces Policy Board and Joint Review Board. They will provide input on how to best use reserve forces in war plans and serve as Shelton's liaison to the various reserve and National Guard constituencies.

Creation of the positions is in response to the increasingly important role reserve component forces have been playing in the post-Cold War world. As active duty troop strength declined, reserve forces have filled in the gaps during deployments throughout the world. Additionally, under Cohen's 1997 Defense Reform Initiative, the Office of the Director of Military Support is restructuring and shifting more day-to-day responsibilities to the National Guard. The office is responsible for responding to domestic emergencies.

With the increased responsibilities of Guard and Reserve forces in recent years, both political and military leaders believe the new assistant positions are needed to ensure integration of reserve component forces occurs effectively and efficiently.

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