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Reserve Chiefs Press for More DOD Call-Up Authority

By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, July 29, 2011 – Reserve-component leaders made the case this week for legislative changes that would give Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta more flexibility in using Guard and reserve members to support theater security cooperation and other military missions around the world.

Testifying before the House Armed Services Committee’s military personnel subcommittee, the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps and Coast Guard leaders cited the reserve components’ vast experience supporting a broad array of contingency missions.

Particularly in light of looming budgetary constraints, they said, it’s foolhardy not to enable the Defense Department to take full advantage of these capabilities.

DOD has asked for authority to mobilize up to 60,000 reserve-component members involuntarily for 365 days to support unnamed operations other than war.

Under current law, Guardsmen and reservists must use annual training days for these missions. This, officials said, limits not only what operations they are able to support, but also how effective the engagement can be.

Air Force Gen. Craig R. McKinley, the National Guard Bureau chief, said changing current call-up authorities will provide DOD “assured access” to reserve-component forces. “This proposal would ensure the secretary of defense can support combatant commanders’ needs for missions other than war,” he told the panel.

State adjutants general are staunch supporters of the plan, Army Maj. Gen. Raymond W. Carpenter, chief of the Army National Guard, told the panel.

“It will allow for the continued critical contributions of our soldiers and units and the effective use of soft power that is theater security and cooperation in the hope of reducing the possibility of a mobilized military response in the future,” he said.

The proposal “signifies a fundamental shift in the use of the reserves,” noted Vice Adm. Dirk J. Debbink, chief of the Naval Reserve. It recognizes, he said, the “high level of expertise resident in our Guard and Reserve forces,” as well as reserve-component members’ desire to “continue performing real and meaningful work within the … total force.”

Lt. Gen. Jack C. Stultz, the Army Reserve chief, said the measure also will help retain members not content to sit on the sidelines.

Reservists say they want three things: predictability so they can balance their civilian and military responsibilities, meaningful training, and relevant missions, Stultz told the panel.

“Use me. Don’t put me back on the shelf,” he said his soldiers tell him. “And that’s why this access issue is such a key issue. … We’ve got to continue to use them in a meaningful way, or otherwise we’ll lose them and we can’t afford to lose that national treasure.”

In light of the reserve components’ increasing role in global operations -- a role likely to expand if Congress makes the legislative changes requested -- Air Force Reserve Chief Lt. Gen. Charles E. Stenner Jr. said it’s critical that these forces have sufficient manpower and resources to stay mission-ready.

“In a time of constrained budgets and higher costs, in-depth analysis is required to effectively prioritize our needs,” he said. “We must all appreciate the vital role that reserve components play in supporting our nation’s defense and concentrate our resources in areas that will give us the most return on our investment.”


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Air Force Gen. Craig R. McKinley
Army Maj. Gen. Raymond W. Carpenter
Navy Vice Adm. Dirk J. Debbink
Army Lt. Gen. Jack C. Stultz
Air Force Lt. Gen. Charles E. Stenner Jr.


Article is closed to new comments.

The opinions expressed in the following comments do not necessarily reflect those of the U.S. Department of Defense.

8/5/2011 10:41:26 AM
Without adequate legal protection and buy-in from the business community, any expansion of Reserve and Guard deployments will cause the force to fade away. Those who wish to serve will join the Active forces. Are we going to go back to a Draft to supply the manpower necessary whenever D.C. wishes to exert its military might?
- Patrick Hansen, Fort McCoy, WI

8/3/2011 10:10:15 AM
DO not allow this unless we get benefits the same as the active duty career soldiers. They need to make the retirement pay for soldiers called since 9/11 retro active back to all Reserves and National Guard called after 9/11. We dropped everything and then got treated like garbage. That is wrong. Also fix the GI bill transfer to children of soldiers called after 9/11. I have a masters degree and don't need the education but it would only be fair to let me transfer it to my daughter. many soldiers are in this same position .
- Randy Jensen, Virginia

8/3/2011 8:01:44 AM
This concept has destroyed the Reserves as we have known it. The concept of the minuteman/citizen soldier is dead and our tradition is gone; the concept of dropping our plowshare when the nation really needs our service and then returning to our families and civilian jobs are gone. This new concept has put our jobs and families at risks. We are now becoming more expensive because our experience is leaving not because we are not being utilized but because we are. Our training costs our going through the roof and our experience is eroding daily. We can no longer recruit from the active duty ranks as we have in the past because we have become the active duty. Why would anyone leave the active duty to come to the reserve for the same thing with fewer benefits? I could give a thousand reasons why this article is merely the proganda of the day but I would be wasting my time and energy. My book "The Death of the Citizen Soldier" will spell this out.
- Don Fletcher, Atlanta

8/3/2011 1:14:18 AM
I whole heartedly agree with this plan. The Reserves and National Guard cannot be allowed to whither away to prewar readiness and must remain a viable ready force in the future. The only way to do that is to keep these forces engaged. However, laws need to be strenghtend further to proctect soldiers rights when it comes to civilian employers and benefits.
- CPT Richard Mills, Kabul Afghanistan

8/3/2011 12:30:30 AM
The main reason DOD called up so many reservists in the beginning was purly monetary...Sometimes our leaders forget that the reservists are "citizen soldiers" not professional soldiers. I, for one, am happy that I was retired (actually timed out as a Warrant Officer) befire being called up for extended tours of duty in counties where we may or may not have belonged...If the economy was not so bad, I am sure retention would now be a very large problem. It is also interesting that our esteemed politicians placed the DOD contractors above the troops when considering what to cut if the debt ceiling was not raised. I am afraid that many of the ROA's leadership have forgotten what it is like to be an active reservist while at the same time holding down a career or job where advancement may be adversely effected.
- Charles Buckman, Palm Springs, CA

8/2/2011 10:29:45 PM
That's all we need! More deployments for what is supposed to be a reserve force.
- dennis fendelander, newbury park

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