Defense Leaders Commentary: Milestones on the Road to Integration
By Hon. Charles L. Cragin
National Guard Bureau
WASHINGTON, Feb. 14, 2000 Defense Leaders is a feature of the American Forces Press Service. It provides senior DoD leaders with an opportunity to speak directly to military service members, their families and DoD civilians on subjects of current interest.
During the tumultuous decades of the Cold War, the dual strategy of forward defense and containment characterized the bipolar framework of U.S.-Soviet rivalry and, ultimately, led to the triumph of the West in that long twilight struggle. Within this context, America’s military forces remained forward deployed along the clearly defined fault lines of the Cold War, ready for action but seeing little.
All this changed dramatically at Cold War’s end. In the last decade of the 20th century, with the Cold War over and the post-Soviet thaw presenting new challenges and opportunities, our nation’s military forces have been restructured and reoriented, away from the static defense of frontiers and into a posture of global engagement. In so doing, they have undertaken more missions in more places than were ever thought possible just a few short years ago.
Today, from Africa to Asia, from Europe to the Middle East, Americans in uniform are standing tall on the front lines of freedom, defending our values and interests in an uncertain world. And wherever U.S. military forces are deployed, men and women from the National Guard and Reserve can be found serving side by side with their active duty counterparts. This article explains how and why this occurred, how the role of the National Guard and Reserve has changed in the past decade, and how the Department of Defense is working to better integrate reservists into a seamless Total Force.
THE TOTAL FORCE IN A CHANGING WORLD
During the epoch of the Cold War, Guard and Reserve forces were essentially (and perhaps intentionally) underutilized: during the decade of the 1980s, for example, they numbered over one million personnel but contributed support to the active forces at a rate of fewer than one million man days per year. To serve in reserve during that period meant finding oneself suspended in the frozen logic of the Cold War. Such logic held that reserve forces were precisely that—they were kept ready in reserve, waiting for the advent of World War III and the cataclysmic contingency that would call them to duty on the front lines in the fight against communism in Europe or Asia.
As the Cold War moderated and eventually wound down in rapid and stunningly successful fashion, we as a nation restructured our military forces and embraced a new national military strategy. Today this strategy is three-fold: it calls on us to shape the international environment, prepare our forces for the future, and respond to crises when and where our interests require. As we embrace this new strategy for a new century, America’s Guard and Reserve are moving to the forefront of our efforts to secure peace, engender democracy, and nurture market economies on a global scale.
When Secretary of Defense William S. Cohen became the nation’s 20th secretary of defense in January 1997, he arrived at the Pentagon with a lifetime of service to our nation and a keen understanding of the nature and purpose of America’s reserve forces. He had been watching the evolution of those forces for over twenty years, first from his vantage point in the House of Representatives and then in the Senate. He recognized and appreciated the fact that, as we were beginning to change our military strategy to meet the new requirements of a new, post-Cold War era, we would also have to change the way we viewed and used reservists. Towards that end, in September 1997, Secretary Cohen promulgated his Total Force memorandum, which called on the Service Secretaries, the Service Chiefs and the global Commanders in Chief—the CINCs—to identify and remove all remaining barriers, both structural and cultural, to the seamless integration of the Total Force.
In his memorandum—a seminal document that is now helping guide the transformation of America’s military—Secretary Cohen cast integration as the elimination of the barriers that have historically existed in an operational, institutional and cultural sense between the active and reserve components. But as a close reading of the recent rhetoric and actions of our senior defense leaders clearly illustrates, integration requires more than the removal of barriers. Integration means changing the way we think about the nature and purpose of our reserve forces. Moreover, it means changing the way we think and act, so that individuals who serve in the Guard and Reserve are not treated as second class citizens, so that they have access to benefit parity, though not straight equality, and serve in an environment in which benefits are appropriate to the level of participation. Integration also implies a way of conducting military operations, whether they be peacekeeping, small-scale contingencies or major theater wars, that fully utilize the unique capabilities resident in all components and all services, so that when U.S. military forces take to the field, they do not suffer deficiencies as a result of the blending of active and reserve units.
Over the past two years substantial progress has been made to integrate our active and reserve forces. This progress can be seen most readily in the increasing levels of participation by reserve component personnel in Department of Defense missions, both here at home and abroad. In striking contrast to Cold War levels of contributory support, today’s reserve forces are providing some 12 to 13 million mandays of support to the active component on an annual basis—a thirteen-fold rise and equivalent to the addition of some 35,000 personnel to active component end strength, or two Army divisions. This stunning change of events has occurred within the context of much broader change in the ways and places in which our military forces—and particularly our reserve forces—have been deployed in recent years.
For the first time in history, we are calling reservists to active duty under three separate Presidential Reserve Call-Ups (PRCs), in Bosnia, Kosovo and Southwest Asia. Consider the number of reservists who have served in these far-flung regions: in Bosnia, over 19,000 reservists have been called involuntarily since 1995, with another 13,000 having served in a voluntary capacity; for Southwest Asia, 1,800 have been called and some 8,000 have volunteered; and for Kosovo, we have called more than 5,600 involuntarily, and these have been joined by more than 4,000 volunteers. To these contingency operations we should also include the two other PRCs invoked this decade: Desert Storm, in which more than 265,000 reservists served; and Haiti, where more than 8,000 answered the call to duty. Desert Storm was particularly important: it formed a watershed in the use of reservists for contingency support and demonstrated, in dramatic fashion, their accessibility and ability to respond when needed in an emergency. Closer to home, more than 23,000 members of the Guard and Reserve deployed last summer to Central America, where they helped five of our southern neighbors recover from the devastating impact of Hurricane Mitch, building 12 clinics, 27 wells, 28 bridges, 33 schools, and 90 kilometers of roads.
These numbers are impressive in their own right as a measure of Guard and Reserve participation, but they also illuminate a central fact about America’s post-Cold War military, namely, that we cannot undertake sustained operations anywhere in the world today without calling on reserve assets to get the job done. The reliance on reservists for the recent air operations over Kosovo, as well as the ensuing peace enforcement operations on the ground, shows not only that the reserve components are participating, but also that our Total Force is not suffering—on the contrary, it is thriving—as a result of Guard and Reserve participation. Thus, at the macro level, in terms of increased use and increased participation of the Reserve components, we can clearly see that progress is being made on the integration front. But we can also look to the individual services and see tremendous advancements, particularly in areas in which Guard and Reserve forces bring unique capabilities to the fight.
INTEGRATION SUCCESS STORIES
The Army has faced perhaps the greatest integration challenges and, some would say, made the greatest progress. General Eric Shinseki, Army Chief of Staff, has shown outstanding leadership in calling for a change in terminology, which can be seen as a harbinger of greater changes to come. When he took office, in June 1999, he said, "Today, I declare that we are THE Army, totally integrated with a unity of purpose—no longer the Total Army, no longer One Army. We are THE Army, and we will march into the 21st century as THE Army." Those are powerful and promising words; and they indicate just how far we have come in the last two years in terms of the leadership commitment to integration. With this utterance, General Shinseki displayed his seriousness about integration and further eroded the distinction between full and part-time soldiers.
Within the Army, the Selected Reserve elements of the Army National Guard and Army Reserve comprise 54 percent of the force. Army National Guard and Army Reserve units provide essential combat, combat support and combat service support to the Army. Their contributions are particularly important in high-demand, low-density units. For example, by percentage of the Army, the reserve components provide the following capabilities: public affairs (82%), civil affairs (97%), medical brigades (85%), psychological operations units (81%), engineering battalions (70%), and military police battalions (66%).
But the Army is doing more than taking advantage of the unique capabilities inherent in its Guard and Reserve components. It is also assigning wholesale missions to them, including the unprecedented act of tasking the 49th Division of the Texas Army National Guard to assume command of the American sector in Bosnia, in March 2000. And this is not a one-time shift in thinking about how to maximize reserve strengths—other units will follow the 29th in Bosnia, including Pennsylvania’s 28th Division, which will also provide the headquarters for a later rotation of the Stabilization Force (SFOR). In addition, eight Army National Guard enhanced separate brigades will send companies to form battalion-level task forces for future rotations of SFOR, and units from North Carolina, Oklahoma, Mississippi, and Georgia will also play a central role. These planned deployments send a clear signal about the Army’s increased reliance on, and trust in its reserve forces—from now on, Guard, Reserve and active Army soldiers will be working even more closely together as an integrated force. In addition, the Army is moving forward with the creation of two integrated divisions with six Army National Guard enhanced Separate Brigades under active component leadership. This configuration leverages the full-time expertise of the active component with the cost effectiveness of reservists.
The Navy is also making significant progress in building a seamless force. Naval Reserve units are an integral part of many mission areas of the Navy, including fleet logistics, maritime patrol, carrier and helicopter wings, mobile construction forces, intelligence units, surface combatants, explosive ordnance disposal, undersea warfare units, operational and administrative staffs, special warfare, and medical support units. For example, by percentage of the total Navy, Naval Reserve contributions include mobile inshore undersea warfare units (100%), logistics support squadrons (100%), cargo handling battalions (93%), mobile construction battalions (60%), and fleet hospitals (40%). Naval Reservists make up about 50% of the Navy’s mine countermeasures forces, with 13 mine warfare ships, including the Navy’s only Mine Control Ship, USS Inchon. The Selected Reserve part of the Naval Reserve comprises 20 percent of the Navy.
In the past year, 10 Reserve Flag Officers have performed extended active duty periods, including Deputy Commander of the Joint Task Force in Southwest Asia, Commander COMFAIRMED, Commander of Naval Bases in Jacksonville and Iceland, Deputy Commander CINCPACFLT, and Commander Naval Reserve Force. As we have seen in the Army, these assignments indicate increased trust in and reliance on Reserve leaders. In the European theater, Naval Reservists are also leading the way. Naval reservists provided 80 percent of the individual augmentation force provided by the Navy in support of the Bosnia and Kosovo operations. VAQ-209—an EA-6B squadron—deployed in support of Operations ALLIED FORCE and DESERT THUNDER, providing vital electronic warfare capabilities and proving, once again, that reserve assets remain a central part of mission planning. USS Inchon, with HM-15 aboard, provided critical humanitarian aid in Albania during Operation SHINING HOPE. Closer to home, Naval Reserve units are being relied upon to complete increasing portions of counter drug operations. Naval Reserve aircraft squadrons perform 25 percent of that mission; while Naval Reserve ships accomplish some 50 percent.
To a much greater degree than the other services, the Marine Corps is, to all intents and purposes, a de facto Total Force. Whether in the active or reserve component, all enlisted personnel and officers train to a common standard, and they have the same structure filled by the same individual and unit training standards. Unlike some of the other services, the Marine Corps’ active forces have their own combat service support and therefore are not as dependent on the reserve for that capability. Reserve units can be used in addition to, or instead of, the active force, either for OPTEMPO relief or for tackling a mission head-on. Thus, within the Marine Corps, advancements towards integration are not fundamental shifts but rather refinements to an ongoing and highly successful process of utilizing reservists. The Corps has embraced a simple concept with a clear intent: reservists are a major part of the Marine Corps warfighting and expeditionary forces, and the Corps is already set up to take advantage of reserve strengths across the board. Marines are now working to further guarantee interoperability and provide the necessary training and equipment to improve this process. As the Commandant, General James L. Jones, Jr. said recently, "Reserves are an important part of our Marine family, and when the bell rings they will continue to join our active units for contingencies around the world."
The Marine Corps Reserve includes a division, an air wing, and a force service support group. These forces provide command, combat, combat support, and combat service support capabilities. The Marine Forces Reserve (MARFORRES) Headquarters in New Orleans, provides peacetime command, control, and resource allocation for the Marine Corps Reserve. The Active and Reserve components are closely integrated through horizontal fielding of equipment, weaponry, technology, and training. Marine Corps Reserve contributions to the Marine Corps, by percentage, include civil affairs (100%), intelligence units (33%), headquarters and service battalions (25%), supply battalions (25%), and communications battalions (25%). The Selected Reserve part of the Marine Corps Reserve constitutes about 19% of the Marine Corps.
Like the other services in the wake of the Cold War, the Air Force has had to become more agile and more responsive to the changed conditions that now obtain in the absence of superpower confrontation. The Air Force is adapting to the changing missions of today in order to prepare for the challenges of tomorrow, and is moving into the 21st century as an expeditionary aerospace force. At the core of these fresh new efforts to move ahead are the air expeditionary forces—or AEFs. This promising new concept is one way of responding to the increasing number of contingencies that call for worldwide deployments; it attempts to answer a crying need for "predictability."
Ten AEFs have been proposed. They will be on call or deployed for up to 90 days at a time, roughly every 15 months, and two will be on call at all times. The AEFs will help build predictability and stability into the way the Air Force schedules its people to respond to contingencies, both large and small. They are being designed as a direct response to increasing concerns about the high operations tempo under which today’s Air Force operates. The AEFs will take full advantage of the vital contributions being made by the Total Air Force—Active, Guard and Reserve—by integrating all the Air components into cohesive and tightly bound and deployable force packages. The AEFs will provide military commanders with the right force in the right place at the right time, whether for humanitarian relief operations or combat missions. These forces can be tailored to meet CINC requirements, and part of that tailoring involves the employment of associated Guard and Reserve units and personnel. The goal is to reduce OPTEMPO, take care of people, and enhance readiness. While responsive and capable, the AEF also offers reservists and their civilian employers some predictability and stability with respect to the timing and duration of deployments. But the overall mission remains the same: to provide rapid and decisive global air power when and where it is needed.
We must ensure that new concepts like the AEF do not translate into a lower OPTEMPO for the active force at the expense of the Air Reserve components. In short, we cannot address readiness concerns by overtaxing our Reserve components. We need Total Force solutions. We need to closely monitor Reserve component OPTEMPO and PERSTEMPO. Nevertheless, this debate is about more than tempo—it’s also about compatibility. If Air Force Reserve and Air National Guard units are going to be integrated into the AEFs—and they will be—then those units need to be fully compatible with their active duty counterparts. They need the latest equipment, airframes, avionics, sensors, and precision munitions. I have pledged my continuing commitment to ensuring compatibility, and my staff and I are working closely with the leadership of the Air Force to ensure that this happens.
The Air National Guard and Air Force Reserve perform a broad range of combat and combat support missions, including counter air, interdiction, close air support, strategic and tactical airlift, aerial refueling, space operations, force protection, aeromedical evacuation, aerospace rescue and recovery, and special operations. Air National Guard and Air Force Reserve contributions, by percentage of the total Air Force, include strategic interceptor force (100%), tactical airlift (64%), aerial refueling and strategic tankers (55%), tactical air support (38%), strategic airlift (27%) and special operations (17%). The Selected Reserve elements of the Air National Guard and Air Force Reserve comprise 33 percent of the Air Force.
Since 1995, the Coast Guard has embraced a vision of integration—"Team Coast Guard"—that has essentially done away with the traditional reserve structure within its force, moving instead to one in which the Coast Guard Reserve has evolved into a force largely comprised of Individual Mobilization Augmentees. Today, more than 80% of all reservists are assigned to and work directly for active component units and assist in the performance of virtually all Coast Guard missions. They meet the same professional qualification standards as their active duty counterparts, attend the same formal schools and perform the same on-the-job training. Force integration has helped active duty Coast Guard field commanders better perform their missions by leveraging the valuable and often unique professional skills of reservists, from environmental protection to law enforcement, from search and rescue to port safety. Across the board, the Coast Guard Reserve augments the Coast Guard in most operational mission areas and provides specialized port security elements (some 97% of the total Coast Guard capability) and pollution response strike teams. Coast Guard reservists have truly embraced the Coast Guard motto, Semper Paratus—"Always Ready!"
These examples of integration success stories from the individual services constitute demonstrable evidence that we are making progress in building a force that is less segregated on Guard and Reserve issues and more successful in terms of mission performance. But parallel to these moves, we have also seen significant strides in quality of life and other benefits for our reservists. The basic precept continues to be: as we use our reservists more and more, we must be careful not to overuse or abuse them. Taking care of our people remains our number one priority.
QUALITY OF LIFE
Service in the National Guard and Reserve requires members to balance a full-time civilian career with military service requirements, as well as family and community commitments. The increased use of the Guard and Reserve has resulted in many reservists spending more time away from their full-time civilian employment and family to meet military obligations. Reservists also face the real possibility of being involuntarily called to active duty for extended periods. This creates unique quality of life concerns for reservists and their families. In the past year, we have addressed these growing concerns in a number of key areas.
Expanded Reemployment Protection
While the statutes governing the civilian reemployment rights of those who serve in the uniformed services were significantly improved in 1994, there remained, until this year, situations in which Reserve component members were not protected. One of the most significant shortcomings was rectified when the reemployment statutes were recently amended to protect reservists who are employed in their civilian capacity by U.S. employers outside the United States. While the statute applies to all members of the uniformed services, it was a particular concern for reservists working overseas who were required to answer a call to duty, but faced the very real possibility that they would not have a job when they completed their tour of duty. Now reservists can meet their military obligations without fear of losing their civilian career or being unfairly penalized by an employer because the employer was not subject to the reemployment laws.
Reserve Travel Support
The post-Cold War realignment of missions and units within our armed forces has resulted in some Reserve component members traveling longer distances in order to serve in the Selected Reserve. Reservists who are not within a reasonable commuting distance of their training site frequently must travel by air transportation. Not only are reservists sacrificing their time to travel, but they are also incurring personal expenses for this travel because they are not authorized reimbursement for the travel and transportation expenses associated with the performance of inactive duty training. Two new statutory provisions will help reduce out of pocket expenses by providing access to more economical airfares and space on military aircraft under certain conditions. Both authorities will help improve readiness by providing affordable travel alternatives for meeting military requirements and improving morale.
Use of Government Airline Fares
The first authority allows reservists traveling to and from inactive duty training to purchase airline tickets at the fare authorized official government travelers on a non-reimbursable basis. This enables the reservist to purchase airline tickets at a reasonable price, which is particularly important when current events dictate a last minute change to the planned training schedule. The flexibility provided under this program allows tickets to be changed or canceled without financial penalty to the individual, thus minimizing the financial burden placed on reservists. The contract negotiations required to implement this new authority have been completed and the Department has established procedures for the use of this new reserve entitlement.
Space Required Travel Authority
The second authority permits Reserve component members to travel "space-required" on military aircraft to perform inactive duty training if there is no means of travel by road, railroad or a combination of road and railroad. While there are only a limited number of Guard and Reserve members who cannot travel by road or railroad, this does affect Guard and Reserve members who reside in Alaska and Hawaii, as well as reservists who perform inactive duty training at overseas locations. This new travel authority provides a viable means by which these reservists can meet their inactive-duty-training obligation by providing them priority for transportation on military aircraft. In combination with the ability to purchase airline tickets at the government rate, this authority will significantly reduce the personal expenses incurred by reservists.
RESERVE HEALTH CARE
Health care continues to be a significant concern for reservists and their families. Guardsmen and Reservists want to be assured that if they are injured or become ill while performing military service, they will receive medical and dental care and their families will have access to health care while they are incapacitated. In addition, the increased use of reservists has highlighted the need to update and modernize our methods for providing health care and other related benefits to reservists injured in the line of duty, as well as force protection to those going into harm’s way.
In 1997, at the direction of Congress, the Department of Defense began a study on the means of improving medical and dental care for reservists. The study reviewed existing legislation, policies, and service regulations and was conducted in conjunction with the first- ever Reserve Component Health Care Summit, which was announced by Secretary Cohen in the fall of 1997 as part of his commitment to building a seamless Total Force. The Summit served to gather information and validate the findings, costing methodologies and recommendations of the Health Study. The study report was signed by Secretary Cohen and sent to Congress last November.
This study was important because the changed nature of today’s Total Force required a changed approach to how we view health care and medical readiness within our Reserve components. Both the Health Study and the Health Summit were part of an effort to reassess the universe of reserve healthcare issues. At the core of this effort was the premise that it is the performance of duty, not the length of duty, that establishes risk and exposure to harm. In other words, we must seek to treat injury or illness that occurs in the line of duty, regardless of what duty status an individual was serving in when that injury took place.
The process of conducting both the Study and the Summit helped broaden the Department’s perspective in relation to caring for its reservists. They helped establish a coordinated position on reserve health care issues within the Department, and helped forge a new consensus on how to tackle the challenges ahead. We now have a strategic vision for providing appropriate health care for reservists and their families. We also have a fully coordinated plan to implement that vision. Congress has been very supportive of our recommendations—indeed, several of the study’s recommendations were adopted in recent legislation—and the Department is now speaking with one voice regarding reserve health care.
FAMILY READINESS AND EMPLOYER SUPPORT
Family readiness and employer support have taken on increasing importance as reservists are being called upon more frequently and for longer periods to support military operations. Various needs assessment surveys are currently being conducted, including a survey of family program managers, a survey of civilian employers of reservists, and a survey of family members of recently deployed reservists. The results of these needs assessment surveys will help focus the department’s efforts in supporting Guard and Reserve families.
The Department of Defense is now working tirelessly to enhance its efforts to support reserve families. The Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Reserve Affairs and the Office of Family Policy have formed a strategic partnership to develop a Long Range Strategic Plan for National Guard and Reserve Family Readiness. This plan will seek to ensure that reservists and their families are prepared to cope with the strains associated with long or repeated deployments and are adequately served by all military family care systems, networks and organizations. This plan will provide a vision for reserve family readiness in the 21st century. In adopting it, the Department of Defense will further demonstrate its commitment to ensuring that our people—and their families—remain our most precious resource.
With today’s reservists serving in more places and in more cases than ever before, the burdens we place upon them are also felt by their employers. The men and women in the National Guard and Reserve could never serve this nation in the outstanding manner in which they do without the support of their employers. Through the National Committee for Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve, the Department of Defense continues to reach out to employers across the nation. Secretary Cohen’s initiative, which he launched in 1998, to work with chambers of commerce to nurture and sustain employer support is making great progress, with over 800 chambers having signed Statements of Support in the last two years, representing nearly 400,000 members.
Employer support will remain a vital feature of the successful use of our reserve forces. We must continue to monitor relationships between employers and members of the Reserve components and ensure that employers understand and appreciate the value of America’s reservists.
PREPARING FOR THE FUTURE
Today we are building a Total Force that is ready and relevant for the next century. However, building that type of force requires a hard look at how we are going to employ it down the road, which was Secretary Cohen’s purpose in directing the Department to conduct the recently completed Reserve Component Employment 2005 (RCE-05) Study. The study focused on three areas: homeland defense; smaller-scale contingencies; and major theater wars. Although the study made more than 20 detailed recommendations to Secretary Cohen, certain key themes emerged as particularly important to ensuring an effective future Total Force.
With regard to homeland defense, the study suggests new ways for the Reserve components to assist in managing the consequences of possible attacks within the United States involving nuclear, chemical or biological weapons; protect critical infrastructure throughout the United States from physical and information operations attacks; and participate in manning a national missile defense system should one be deployed. With regard to smaller-scale contingencies, the study recommends new ways for the Reserve components to provide additional high-demand/low-density capabilities and assume a greater role in sustained peacekeeping operations such Bosnia and Kosovo. With respect to major theater wars, the study highlights new ways to augment critical combat capabilities in specific warfighting areas; develop post-mobilization training standards and deployment timelines for Army National Guard Divisions; and integrate the Reserve components more fully into war plans.
The RCE-05 study marks an important step forward in an on-going process of identifying new and better ways of utilizing the Reserve components. In fact, it was a catalyst for cooperation within the Department, particularly between the Active and Reserve components, and will further enhance our efforts to build a seamlessly integrated Total Force.
Another promising area of active/reserve integration is that of Information Operations (IO), which is well suited to integration of RC capability, especially information technology skills acquired by individual Reserve members in their civilian professions. Whereas active duty personnel may struggle to keep pace with commercial advances in computer networks, reservists are often in step with these advances by the very nature of their civil sector employment and workplace training. The past 12 months have yielded many fruitful examples of RC integration into information operations activities.
The Reserve Components have taken great initiative in exploiting civilian information technology skills to meeting growing IO demands. Within that framework, the RCE-05 study has directed the concept study of a Joint Reserve Virtual Information Operations/Information Assurance Organization (JRVIO). The JRVIO concept focuses on the creation of a joint virtual organization capable of maximizing the utilization civilian-acquired information technology skills to support joint IO activities. Proof-of-Concept demonstrations are in development to support a proposed long-range plan for future integration of Reserve capabilities to meet CINC and Combat Support Agency IO requirements.
Parallel to these efforts, the Department of Defense is also deeply engaged in an ongoing interagency process within the federal government to provide support to civil authorities in the event of an attack using weapons of mass destruction (WMD). This type of homeland defense mission will be one of the most critical of the coming century, in part because we as a nation are beginning to face the fact that the war against terrorism will not be waged only overseas, but also right here at home. We are making real progress in the homeland defense arena, and the Guard and Reserve are front and center in that effort. As Deputy Secretary John Hamre has said, "the capability the Department needs to develop has to largely be grounded in the National Guard and our Reserve forces. Under our normal way of doing business, active units are overseas on the front line. Our active duty forces are forward deployed and our Reserves go and reinforce. In homeland defense, it is exactly the other way around."
In May 1998, President Clinton announced the establishment of 10 Rapid Assessment and Initial Detection (RAID) teams to leverage the Department’s WMD expertise and technologies and make them available in support of state and local authorities. Each RAID team is comprised of 22 Army and Air National Guard personnel, who have enhanced training and sophisticated equipment to support and augment civilian first responders. The initial 10 RAID teams are located in California, Colorado, Georgia, Illinois, Massachusetts, Missouri, New York, Pennsylvania, Texas, and Washington. In the fiscal year 2000 Defense Authorization Act, Congress authorized the establishment of seventeen additional RAID teams, for which deployment criteria are currently being assessed. In conjunction with this effort, we are also training and equipping units from the other Reserve components to support state and local authorities in the event of a WMD incident.
Secretary Cohen also recently announced the establishment of the Joint Task Force-Civil Support (JTF-CS). Based in Norfolk, it will be led by a Reserve component Brigadier General, the first being Army National Guard Brigadier General Bruce Lawlor. Although it will have no standing forces, JTF-CS is being specially structured to support the Federal Emergency Management Agency for WMD consequence management. It will have robust planning and command and control capabilities, with the ability quickly to mobilize a large-scale task force. It will have rapid access to forces and quick reach-back to subject matter experts, labs, and medical support. Here again, the Guard and Reserve will be playing a prominent role.
THE WAY AHEAD
In any organization as large as the Department of Defense, we have to acknowledge that change is going to be incremental. However, it is my sincere hope and expectation that during Secretary Cohen’s tenure, we will be able to alter the course of integration by a few significant degrees. That goal may seem modest, but the reality is that the elimination of structural and cultural barriers to integration—and, more importantly, the positioning of U.S. military forces to fight and act as a seamlessly integrated Total Force—will not happen overnight. Discriminating attitudes on both sides are long-standing, and change will come slowly. Nevertheless, as this article has attempted to illustrate, we are making progress. In some mission areas participation by reservists, either as individuals or units, will be of limited utility, but there will also continue to be, as there are today, a host of areas in which reservists can make contributions of profound and lasting importance.
As a Department, we need to do a better job of recognizing what those areas are. We need to use and employ our Reserve components more wisely and maximize their inherent strengths. This means understanding and appreciating inherent weaknesses as well. We also need to continue to work to identify and change areas in which reservists receive disproportionate treatment. There will always be differences in the levels of participation of reservists, but that does not mean that they are not valuable contributors to the work of the Total Force.
We cannot simply activate reservists for worldwide deployments and hope that they merge seamlessly and automatically with their active duty counterparts. With this precept in mind, last January Secretary Cohen authorized the Reserve Forces Policy Board (RFPB) to conduct an educational summit designed to establish objectives and policy guidelines for a Total Force approach to military education. Secretary Cohen will soon endorse the summit’s recommendations, and they will mark another milestone on the road to integration.
As we move into the next millennium we must focus on how to take best advantage of what reservists can contribute, and we must work to ensure that benefits are proportionate to participation and attractive enough to make continued service desirable. The bottom line is that we cannot overuse our reservists without seeing a corresponding increase in attrition and a decline in readiness. In the end, we must strike a balance, so that we create a Total Force that is appropriately sized for missions and staffed with people who want to serve but who do not find the burdens of that service so onerous they leave.
During my tenure in Reserve Affairs, I have visited with reservists and their leaders in 42 states and 18 countries on five continents, including a recent trip to New Zealand, where I met with members of the New York Air National Guard. This is not cavalier globe trotting on my part, but rather a determined and disciplined effort to learn first- hand about the challenges faced by reservists in today’s Total Force. These trips, conducted mostly on weekends, provide me with a better understanding of what reservists are doing and where they are serving. My objective is not simply to be an advocate for reservists, but to help Secretary Cohen craft policies that are beneficial to reservists and which also protect our national security interests.
The year ahead will be one in which my staff and I work tirelessly to drive home the initiatives begun under Secretary Cohen’s superb leadership. We will be working to capture the promise of the RCE-05 study, enhance family readiness, build employer support, implement the recommendations of the reserve health study and the RFPB’s education summit, and follow through on our ongoing search for ways to improve the lives of reservists and their families, and maximize their contributions to America and its military.