Army Reserve Chief Cites Reservists’ Value
By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Feb. 2, 2011 As the Defense Department lays plans to reduce the ground force in response to mounting budget pressures, a senior military officer expressed hope today it won’t cut what he called one of the most cost-effective weapons in its arsenal: its reserve components.
Army Lt. Gen. Jack C. Stultz, chief of the Army Reserve, said he doesn’t yet know if the Army will elect to pare the Army Reserve as it complies with Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates’ decision to reduce the Army’s permanent active-duty end strength by 27,000 soldiers beginning in 2015.
“I don’t have a crystal ball, but my instinct would say it doesn’t make sense,” Stultz said at a Defense Writers Group breakfast, “because if you reduce the active force, … you are going to put more dependence on the reserves.”
Gates announced force reductions in early January, citing greater-than-anticipated budget pressures and plans to withdraw U.S. forces from Iraq by December and to significantly reduce the troop commitment in Afghanistan by the end of 2014. The cuts will include 22,000 troops the Army added in a temporary end-strength increase approved in July 2009.
The Marine Corps also will cut its force by 15,000 to 20,000 Marines.
Stultz said today he hopes to maintain the Army Reserve’s current end strength and, if possible, to tap into some of the capabilities the Army will shed as it downsizes.
“If the Army is going to draw down, we need to have a plan to absorb those soldiers into the Army Reserve,” he said.
The Army Reserve provides many of the enabling capabilities the active component has come to rely on, particularly in areas such as civil affairs, psychological operations, transportation and engineering. Stultz said he sees no end to demand for these capabilities, even after the current operations in Iraq and Afghanistan conclude. He cited, for example, “pent-up demand” among geographic combatant commanders who would love to tap into Army Reserve capabilities to support more of their theater engagement activities.
The Army -- and the nation -- get tremendous bang for the Army Reserve’s $7.5 billion annual base budget, Stultz told reporters.
“If you look at what our percentage of the budget is compared to the total budget, and then you look at what contribution we are making in terms of the number of soldiers we are providing to the force, that’s a pretty good return on investment,” he said.
Stultz said the Army force generation model -– which, when fully implemented, will give Army reservists four years at home between one-year deployment cycles –- provides ready forces at a fraction of what it costs to maintain active-duty troops.
“It’s a no-brainer, because you are paying them as a full-time soldier for one year, and you are paying them as a part-time soldier for the other four,” he said.
Meanwhile, Stultz said, he’s committed to identifying areas where the Army Reserve can operate more efficiently so it’s able to reinvest more of its funding into training and equipment modernization.
The Army Reserve is better equipped than ever, he said, but still lags behind in equipment modernization. As it acquires newer equipment, Stultz said, he’s evaluating strategies that ensure equipment is distributed where it can be used most effectively.
In addition, Army Reserve Command is exploring ways to provide more cost-effective training to Army Reserve soldiers. Among options being explored is more use of simulators and distance-learning programs that deliver standard classroom lecture material reservists can access at their convenience from home.