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Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Reserve Affairs Remarks to the Maine Legislature
As Delivered by Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Reserve Affairs Charles L. Cragin, Augusta, Maine, Tuesday, February 23, 1999

Mr. Speaker;

Honorable members of the House of Representatives;

Distinguished guests from the Senate;

Major General Adams [Adjutant General];

Members of our Maine Army and Air National Guard,

Ladies and gentlemen.

Mr. Speaker [Steve Rowe], thank you for your thoughtful and generous remarks.

Secretary Cohen has asked me to extend his warm regards to each of you -- he regrets he is unable to be here today.

When the Secretary asked me to represent him, I felt deeply privileged.

It is a tremendous honor for me to stand in this imposing chamber and address the representatives of the great people of Maine.

It is a thrill for me to come home to Maine, if only for a day.

I stand before you knowing that it is rather unusual for a senior defense official to address a state legislature.

Many Americans, when they think about our military, tend to think of the Active duty forces -- those that serve day in and day out around the globe to defend our national interests.

But in reality, today’s military is made up of more than full-time personnel -- it is also represented by the members our Reserve components…

The Army and Air National Guard, and the Army, Naval, Marine Corps, Air Force and Coast Guard Reserve.

The 1.5 million men and women who serve our nation in reserve represent one half of our total military might.

So it is entirely fitting that I come before you today, at your very kind invitation, to report on the state and nature of America’s Guard and Reserve forces.

Those who serve in reserve have often been referred to as "weekend warriors."

Indeed, the phrase was used just last week on the cover of USA Today.

But it is an outmoded term -- for it fails to adequately characterize the contributions and sacrifices made by today’s Reservists and Guardsmen and women.

During the Cold War, the term was right on the mark.

During the Cold War, our forces were easily identified as being either Active or Reserve.

Around the world and around the clock, the Active forces were the ones we relied on to get the job done.

Reserve forces were simply that: they waited in reserve, ready for re-call to Active duty if or when some strategic catastrophe struck in Europe or Asia.

In many respects, we tried to have redundant capabilities in the Reserve components -- they were often the mirror image of the Active force, only less ready and less well funded.

The idea was that we could get them up to speed -- if they were ever needed -- with enough time to spare, and get them into the order of battle to reinforce the Active troops that were engaged in the warfight.

As such, our Reserves were essentially manpower replacements.

They trained one weekend a month and two weeks each summer -- they could, in fact, be described as weekend warriors.

But that was then. This is now.

Today, like their Active duty counterparts, they are standing tall around the globe on the front lines of freedom, courageously weathering the cold of the Korean Peninsula and the searing heat of Kuwait.

From the turbulent valleys of the Balkans to the steaming jungles of Latin America, our men and women in uniform -- Active, Guard and Reserve -- are protecting our interests in an uncertain world.

And it’s a world of new and complex challenges.

We face an unstable regime in North Korea that boldly launches missiles over Japan.

An Iraq that defies international law and plays cat and mouse to hide its illegal weapons of mass destruction.

A host of states flirt with the prospect of acquiring nuclear weapons.

Ethnic, religious and nationalist hatreds simmer from Kosovo to Central Africa.

And terrorists, drug cartels and criminal networks threaten our way of life.

Today’s military faces more threats and is more widely deployed than ever before.

In Bosnia, our men and women in uniform are bringing peace to a divided and devastated land.

In Central America, they are helping our southern neighbors recover from the awful aftermath of two destructive hurricanes.

And in Southwest Asia, they are fighting to keep weapons of mass destruction out of Saddam’s hands.

We have the best led, best equipped, best trained, most ready fighting force in the world.

And in this changing world of changing threats, the Department of Defense has looked to the future and adapted accordingly.

We are harnessing the amazing technology of today to meet the uncertain challenges of tomorrow.

We are embracing modern business practices to streamline our operations, reduce waste and enhance performance.

We have eliminated thousands of civilian jobs, closed scores of military installations, and reduced the size of our military forces by thirty percent.

And all the while we have had to face declining budgets and an increasing work load.

To square the circle, to balance increasing commitments against declining resources, we have come to rely heavily on our National Guard and Reserve, not just as Reserve forces in waiting but as critical contributors to the work of the Total Force.

To put it mildly, our Reserve Components are in the midst of a profound paradigm shift.

Our Reservists and Guardsmen are no longer the force of last resort.

They’re not weekend warriors anymore -- they’re Total Force warriors!

And today, we don’t really have a reserve anymore.

 

It’s the same word -- it’s spelled the same -- but there’s a different emphasis on the syllables.

Today’s Reserve force is composed of people who "re-serve" on a continual basis.

They re-served in Desert Storm, they re-served in Somalia, they re-served in Haiti.

And now, in Bosnia, they are out front, re-serving side by side with the Active force.

Last year, those who "re-served" contributed over 13 million mandays to Total Force missions and exercises.

That’s the equivalent of adding nearly 35,000 personnel to the Active force.

Looked at another way, that’s the equivalent of two Army divisions.

Every year our Guardsmen and Reservists help save thousands of lives and protect property here at home.

When disaster strikes, the Guard is our go-to team.

The people of Maine know first-hand about their missions of mercy.

During last year’s ice storms, men and women from the Maine National Guard and other Reserve forces sprung rapidly into action and helped their neighbors cope with the crushing effects of one of the century’s worst storms.

They cleared power lines, provided generators, helped evacuate the elderly and infirm, and removed debris.

They truly deserved the praise of this august assembly when last year you convened a joint "Heroes Day" in honor of their efforts.

And as today’s session demonstrates, the members of our Reserve components are really heroes every day.

For they make tremendous sacrifices.

Right here in Maine, the members of our Reserve components are training continuously to serve their neighbors and the nation.

Two weeks ago, 15 soldiers from the Maine Army National Guard’s 120th Air Traffic Services Group, stationed in Bangor, got the call to deploy to Kuwait in support of Operation Southern Watch -- the no-fly zone over southern Iraq.

And later this year, 77 members of the Army Guard’s 112th Medical Company -- an Air Ambulance outfit, also from Bangor -- will deploy to Bosnia in support of Operation Joint Guard.

For its part, the Maine Air National Guard has one of our nation’s premier air refueling wings -- the 101st -- which flies out of Bangor daily and provides worldwide in-flight refueling for the Air Force.

Last year, members of the Naval Reserve from Fleet Logistics Support Squadron 62 -- VR62 -- at Brunswick NAS, deployed rapidly to Indonesia, where they evacuated Americans and other foreign nationals in the face of increasing civil unrest in the island nation.

Indeed, they are flying real world missions day in and day out.

And when the Air Force lost a Titan missile last fall in the waters off Florida, they turned to the Naval Reserve’s mobile diving and salvage unit from Portland to go down – literally -- and pick up the pieces.

Here at home, the Coast Guard Reserve, operating out of Portland, Jonesport, Rockland, Southwest Harbor and other locations, is working tirelessly to perform vital search and rescue missions, environmental and marine safety operations, and fisheries patrol.

As these stories suggest, today we are relying on our Guardsmen and Reservists more than ever.

They’re enforcing the no-fly zones over Iraq,

They’re building new partnerships with old adversaries in Europe,

And they’re bringing peace to Bosnia, where nearly 18,000 of them have served with great distinction.

These are compelling facts and figures any way you view them.

But what they ultimately show is that we simply cannot sustain our current operations tempo or undertake major missions without the National Guard and Reserve.

They have become an absolutely integral part of our defense planning and execution.

They are essential to our national security.

As Secretary Cohen said recently:

"We could not maintain our military without the Guard and Reserve. It would be cut in half. We couldn't do the job in Bosnia, we couldn't do it in the Gulf, we couldn't do it anywhere."

Every day around the globe thousands of Active duty men and women in uniform risk their lives and make great sacrifices to defend our national interests.

And, increasingly, Reservists are there alongside, serving extended tours away from their homes, families and jobs.

These absences place tremendous strains on the relationships between employers and their employees who serve our nation in uniform.

Without the continued support of their employers, the members of our Reserve components would have to choose between duty and employment.

We cannot place our Guardsmen and Reservists in the situation where they have to make that choice -- we cannot afford to do without them.

They depend on their civilian jobs to support their families, pay their mortgages, and educate their children.

At the same time, they do not want to give up their service to the nation and the pride and patriotism that accompanies such service.

The Department of Defense continues to seek new ways to reach out to employers, and is working hard to minimize the disruptions and hardships associated with Reserve service.

Today’s world of balanced budgets and evolving missions means that we will continue to rely heavily on our Guard and Reserve.

But we also live in a world of changing threats, so they will also be taking on new missions.

Our search for security in the post-Cold war world presents us with an unprecedented paradox:

With no peer competitors, we are the world’s only remaining superpower.

And yet, despite our unchallenged strength abroad, we may prove to be weakest here at home.

Like Achilles’ unprotected heel, our most vulnerable targets may be found in the unsuspecting sinews of our homeland.

Future adversaries may seek to challenge us, not on the battlefields of foreign lands, but here at home, asymmetrically.

Weapons of mass destruction -- chemical and biological weapons -- may be the weapons of choice of our potential adversaries.

These deadly, insidious weapons are the greatest threat the world has ever known.

Secretary Cohen has called them "the poor man’s atomic bomb."

Easy to make, easy to transport, difficult to detect, and catastrophically lethal when used -- What are we to do about these weapons? How can we defend against them?

I’m sure you are all aware that the federal government is today taking concerted action, across a wide variety of fronts, to help us prepare to meet these threats.

Let me try to summarize some of those steps.

Through the historic Nunn-Lugar Legislation, we have participated with Russia in destroying nuclear missiles, warheads and bombers; and we are on the verge of destroying tons of chemical weapons.

In order to deter attacks against the United States, we are continuing to sharpen our military spear.

Within this context, force protection efforts remain at the top of our security agenda.

So we are constructing safer buildings and bases around the globe.

We will protect the men and women of our force against the use of the deadly weapon--anthrax.

And we will continue to strike at terrorists, no matter where they find sanctuary.

But we as a nation are also facing the fact that the front lines in the war against terrorism are no longer only overseas -- they are also right here at home.

As Secretary Cohen recently said, we must face the fact that "the next terrorist attack will come to U.S. soil in a bottle or a briefcase."

Under the direction of President Clinton, Secretary Cohen, Attorney General Reno and other members of the Cabinet, and in partnership with Congress, we are developing plans, policies and laws to help us prepare for the day when terrorists or rogue nations threaten us with unconventional means.

 

President Clinton believes we must do more to protect our civilian population from the scourge of chemical and biological weapons.

That we must prepare better to respond to attacks against our Homeland.

Our Reserve forces -- and particularly the National Guard -- will play a critical role in helping us craft a comprehensive response to such threats.

They are the logical choice for such a mission.

They live and work in nearly forty-one hundred communities across the nation.

They know the local emergency response plans and infrastructures.

And they often have close links with the fire, police, and emergency medical personnel who will be first on the scene.

As a result, the Guard and Reserve comprise a highly effective source of trained and ready manpower and expertise.

For example, over half [53 percent] of our total military medical capability is resident in the Guard and Reserve.

In the event of a WMD attack, casualties may be enormous -- and we will need to call on Guard and Reserve medical expertise.

Some 70 percent of our transportation capability is resident in the Guard and Reserve.

In the event of a WMD attack, we may need that capability to conduct mass evacuations—only the military has the expertise and capability to move large numbers of people in a short period of time.

Some 65 percent of our military’s chem-bio detection and decontamination assets are resident in the National Guard and Reserve.

They will be essential providers of support to state and local authorities in the event of a real or suspected WMD incident.

Nearly 70 percent of our water purification capability is resident in the Guard and Reserve.

If terrorists contaminate water supplies, we will be calling on the Guard and Reserve to help our stricken cities.

To better harness these inherent capabilities and make our national plans for WMD response more effective, last May President Clinton announced the establishment of ten rapid assessment and initial detection (RAID) teams.

These teams will be made up of 22 highly skilled, trained and equipped, full-time National Guard soldiers and airmen.

One of these teams will be located in Natick, Massachusetts.

The mission of each of the RAID teams will be to respond rapidly to the scene of a WMD incident, detect the nature of an attack, and support local authorities in managing the consequences of weapons of mass destruction.

The Department will also be training and equipping decontamination and reconnaissance units across the country.

These units will be drawn from all of the Reserve components, especially the National Guard and the Army Reserve, which holds more than 60 percent of the Army’s chemical and biological units.

Our objective is to help save lives and mitigate the effects of an attack.

But the mission of Homeland Defense does not end with defense against chemical and biological weapons.

Our nation has the world’s largest and perhaps the world’s most vulnerable infrastructures.

The Federal government is now taking immediate action to protect telecommunications, banking and finance, energy, transportation and other essential services from attack.

One malfunctioning satellite can wreak havoc on our systems.

A concerted terrorist attack could be catastrophic, shutting down power grids, cleaning out banks, blinding air traffic control.

Consider for a moment how fragile our system is.

If the computers went down in the local supermarket, you couldn’t even buy bread, open the cash register or find the price of produce -- without lasers to scan bar codes, we are blind.

With the battlefields of tomorrow moving increasingly into cyberspace, we are taking steps to today to assess risks and reduce our exposure to cyber-terrorism.

And here again, we foresee a vital role for the men and women of the Guard and Reserve, many of whom bring highly-specialized, high-tech talents from their jobs in the civilian world.

This is a comprehensive, long-term effort, undertaken at the federal interagency level and designed to support state and local authorities in the event of an incident—whether WMD or cyberterrorism.

Our goal as we move into the 21st century is to have in place an effective, integrated and flexible response mechanism, able to respond to a wide range of unconventional threats against our homeland.

But we must approach this problem with reason and rationality.

We must have the right frame of mind, and we must work together—at the local, state and federal levels.

As President Clinton said recently, "This is not a cause for panic. It is a cause for serious, deliberate, disciplined, long-term concern."

And there is another, related area that calls not for panic, but for reason and rationality.

I mentioned earlier that we are in the process of inoculating our Total Force against anthrax.

This program has received a lot of attention in recent weeks—some members of our force are concerned about the safety and efficacy of the vaccine.

Since childhood, all of us have received vaccines to protect us against many diseases, from typhoid to yellow fever, from smallpox to polio.

The anthrax vaccine will protect our troops from another disease—a disease that will kill, a disease that can be used as a weapon.

So what we are doing today is no different from what we have always tried to do: we are taking prudent measures to protect the Total Force— in this case from the threat of anthrax.

Between now and 2003, the entire force will begin receiving the six-shot series of the anthrax vaccination.

Secretary Cohen has had his shots; and I received my third shot in the six-shot series yesterday.

We have an obligation to protect our forces from any threats—and the threat of anthrax is a very real one.

Anthrax is the number one weapon of choice in biological weapons for germ warfare.

And it is very effective as a weapon, and very easy to weaponize.

It is almost always deadly.

We know our potential adversaries are developing anthrax as a weapon of warfare.

Just as we would not send our forces into battle without helmets and flack jackets, we cannot send them into an arena unprotected from another known threat—anthrax.

The vaccine is safe, it is effective, and it is essential for the protection of the men and women of the Total Force -- Active, Guard and Reserve.

I hope, in my comments here today, that I have been able to communicate how and why the nature of Reserve service has changed -- and what those changes will mean for the members of our Reserve components and, indeed, for the great people of the state of Maine and the nation.

The increased use of our Reserve forces, both at home and abroad, is based on Secretary Cohen’s clear and unequivocal commitment to prepare our armed forces to perform their changing missions well into the next century.

Secretary Cohen believes that only a seamless and fully integrated Total Force can give us the capabilities we need.

His vision of the Total Force seeks to do away with the old rigid distinctions between the Active and Reserve components.

Under his determined leadership -- and that of President Clinton -- we are building a Total Force that is ready and relevant for the next century.

The men and women who serve in our National Guard and Reserve have clearly shown themselves to be worthy of America’s roll of honor.

Through their dedication, their selfless service to the nation and their love of country, they have ventured all to uphold the shared ideals of our nation and put into action the values that make our nation strong and free.

They have met every challenge with courage and fortitude.

And we can count on them to continue to meet the challenges of the next century, whether they spring from the untamed forces of nature or the unbridled forces of evil.

For that, we remain eternally grateful.

Let me close with an appeal to each of you.

Our men and women in uniform need the support of their leaders in Washington—and they have it!

But they also need the support of all their countrymen.

I’m here today to thank you for your support and your service, which help ease the burden on our men and women in uniform -- Active, Guard and Reserve.

But I’m also here to ask that you continue to support those who defend America.

 

On behalf of all our military personnel, thank you very much.