Army Reserve Transforms in Unstable Climate
By Staff Sgt. Christine L. Andreu-Wilson, USA
Special to American Forces Press Service
ORLANDO, Fla., Aug. 7, 2007 The Army Reserve is changing from a strategic reserve to an operational force, that force’s top general said.
The difference between a strategic reserve and operational force is that the Army Reserve will follow a more predictable routine, Lt. Gen. Jack C. Stultz explained in a recent interview with Soldiers Radio and Television. Soldiers will be able to plan to deploy once every five years, he said.
“We are deployed in about 18 to 20 countries around the world. There are reserve soldiers in Kuwait, Iraq, Afghanistan, Kosovo, Germany, Panama, Belize, Djibouti, Africa, and Korea. We are engaged around the world as a force,” Stultz said. “The reserve components have so much capability that the (active) Army relies on.”
Though the Army Reserve has a 205,000-soldier force, more than 180,000 reserve soldiers have been mobilized, Stultz explained. There are 25,000 to 35,000 Army Reserve soldiers mobilized routinely, Stultz said.
“If we’re going to be an operational reserve, we’ve got to look outside of the box that we’re living in right now,” Stultz said. “We are no longer a one-weekend-a-month, two-weeks-in-the-summertime force. What we are now is an operational reserve. That means on a predictable basis you will be expected to be called up and mobilized to deploy to defend your nation. Our goal is to get to a five-year model.”
Stultz explained that officials hope to support soldiers by providing a more holistic approach to reservist service. This means providing and maintaining “continuity of support, continuity of care for their family while you’re using this soldier on a repeated basis,” he explained.
“What I can’t do is expect a family to switch health care every time the soldier gets off of active duty. We’ve got to figure out a way to say that families are going to have continuous care,” Stultz said.
The general said he is working on concepts that embrace a cost-share approach to employee benefits in which an employer of a mobilized reservist would receive financial incentives to continue to pay for benefits for a deployed soldier. But he stressed these were merely conceptual notions.
Aside from restructuring the force and reinventing the partnership between employers and the Army Reserve, Stultz said, warrior citizens must revamp their mentality.
“We had an Army that was built around the Cold War mentality,” Stultz said. “Now, we’re going through the process of changing the military. With the invasion into Iraq, we mobilized the Reserve in 2003 and have utilized the force non-stop since then,” he said.
Reengineering the Army Reserve is an arduous undertaking given that the force has to transform itself while it fights the global war on terror, Stultz said. But he credits its people with the progress being made in Army transformation.
“Today’s Army Reserve is the most professional, most competent, best trained, and the most dedicated Army Reserve force we’ve ever had,” Stultz said. “I am in awe of the soldiers that we have in our ranks, their dedication. These soldiers are professionals.”
Stultz also spoke of his recent trip to Iraq and his interaction with two soldiers he promoted.
“I promoted two soldiers with master’s degrees. One had a degree in public administration and the other in molecular biology,” Stultz said. “A month ago, I spoke with a young (specialist). I said, ‘What do you do for a living, soldier?’ He said, ‘I am a pilot for Continental.’ I said, ‘What are you doing here?’ He said, ‘I’m serving my country, sir. I love it.’
“That’s who’s in our ranks right now,” the general said. “These are dedicated Americans who want to serve their country and see the Army Reserve as a way of doing that and maintaining their career.”
(Army Staff Sgt. Christine L. Andreu-Wilson is assigned to the 204th Public Affairs Detachment.)