Bosnia Mission Helps Solidify Total Force Integration
By Paul Stone
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Feb. 4, 2000 When a large contingent of the Texas National Guards 49th Armored Division deploys to Bosnia this month to take over for the 10th Mountain Division, it will be anything but just another rotation of troops in and out of that country.
For the 49th's deployment is symbolic of DoD efforts during the past few years to create a totally integrated force in which reserve component units can seamlessly substitute for active duty troops when needed.
Approximately 800 members of the 49th will take command of the American sector in NATO's Bosnia operation on March 7 not just for a few weeks but for nearly nine months. Included in the deployment is the 49th's headquarters company, as well as aviation, engineering and military police assets. In Bosnia, they will marry up with about 600 other reserve component forces and 3,200 active duty personnel already assigned there.
While individual reserve component units have been activated for such duty, the 49th's activation is the largest in recent memory and represents one of the few times in Army history when a Guard unit has commanded active duty forces.
Its a changing of the guard that Charles Cragin characterizes as the point of reality for DoDs efforts to create a totally integrated force while coping with the numerous and varied missions being performed throughout the world. Cragin is the principal deputy assistant secretary of defense for reserve affairs.
I think its a recognition that the military really cant do anything in a sustained way without relying on members of the Guard and reserve, Cragin said. As we look down the road at peacekeeping operations, we understand we have to utilize the total force and in this case were utilizing the Army in its totality.
Cragin pointed out that 54 percent of todays Army exists in the National Guard and reserves. Additionally, he said that many of the core skills required for small-scale contingency operations exist predominantly in the reserve components military police, civil affairs, psychological operations and medical, just to name a few.
Almost 32,000 reserve component forces have already cycled in and out of Bosnia during the past four years, and the reserve affairs chief is confident the 49th Division will have no problems picking up where the 10th Mountain Division leaves off.
Frankly, if you go to Bosnia a couple days after the 49th arrives, unless youre a keen reader of shoulder patches, you wont be able to tell the difference, Cragin said. What weve got in Bosnia are bright, enthusiastic professionals who are motivated to do a great job regardless of whether theyre members of the Guard, the reserve or the active component. Its a seamlessly integrated total force on the ground.
The 49th has spent the last year preparing for the mission by taking on what Cragin called an energetic and ambitious training schedule, with most members receiving about 108 days of training, including a rotation at the Joint Readiness Training Center, Ft. Polk, La. Additionally, some members have been shadowing operations in Bosnia with the 10th Mountain Division.
Cragin said 49th Division soldiers are very excited about the mission as their deployment date draws near.
Theyve had to work through a lot of issues employer support, family support really just putting their entire lives into a different mold, he said. And I think theyll do a phenomenally good job once on the ground there.