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Reserve Components: Being Mission Ready Essential to Strategy
Prepared statement of Deborah R. Lee, assistant secretary of defense for reserve affairs, The National Security Subcommittee, House Appropriations Committee, Tuesday, March 14, 1995

Good afternoon, Mr. Chairman and members of the committee. Thank you for the invitation to testify today. I have represented the men and women of our military reserve components for the last two years as the assistant secretary of defense for reserve affairs. This committee has been very supportive of our Guard and Reserve, and on their behalf I thank you for all your help in strengthening our reserve components. The secretary and I appreciate it, and our military personnel are grateful. Thank you.

During my first two years I have been out in the field a lot -- to see the men and women in our Guard and Reserve. I have spent time with them as they have performed their duties and listened carefully to their comments both individually and in "town meetings."

As the reserve components increase as a percentage of the total force, it becomes even more important that our reserve components, as part of the total military force, remain the best trained and most effective in the world, both today and in the future. Allow me to briefly refresh your memory today on how we have arrived at where we are now and then to give you some idea of where I plan to place much of my energy this year to make our Guard and Reserve even better.

The assistant secretary of defense for reserve affairs, as stated in Title 10 USC [U.S. Code], is responsible for the overall supervision of all reserve component affairs in the Department of Defense. This responsibility is important because our reservists perform vital national security functions and are closely interlocked with nearly every community in America.

As Secretary [of Defense William J.] Perry has said, "Our Total Force policy assigns a number of key missions completely or largely to the reserves, which means that anytime we're conducting a significant operation, we will be going to the reserves to round out our forces." Through a strategy we call compensating leverage, we look for smart, mission-effective ways to use units in the Guard and Reserve to control peacetime costs and to minimize the risks associated with the active drawdown -- and to resource them so that they are ready to accomplish their mission.

The Department of Defense has fully funded training for the RCs to meet the requirements of the National Military Strategy. With declining resources we have tried to apply smart business logic to the process of readiness funding. This means we make sure that units needed at the outset are organized, trained and resourced to be ready first and the follow-on units are resourced to be ready when they would be deployed. Thus we are providing the necessary level of readiness to all deployers by using the combination of peacetime resourcing and available post-mobilization time to meet readiness and mission requirements.

I would like to share with you my goals for the National Guard and Reserve. Then I will explain how these goals play in the president's FY [fiscal year] 1996 budget and describe some of the initiatives we have under way to achieve them.

Goal No. 1: I want to maximize the reserve components' contribution to the total force in peace and war.

Goal No. 2: I want to promote the mission readiness and accessibility of the National Guard and Reserve to support the National Military Strategy. Simply put, there will be no hollow force on either the active or reserve component side, and I'd like to see historical concerns about whether we can or cannot rely on access to reserves become just that -- history.

Goal No. 3: I want to improve the quality of life for reservists, for there are many elements to readiness, but none so important as attracting and retaining top-notch people.

Goal No. 4: I want to leverage the reserves' military capabilities and readiness training so that we can continue to be partners with civilian communities and institutionalize our civil-military efforts.

We are working to achieve maximum contributions by our Guard and Reserve to the total force in peace and war. Our overall strategy is based in the results of the Bottom-up Review, the purpose of which was to determine how to deal with the threats to the post-Cold War world. The BUR strategy called for increased use of the Guard and Reserve, and in a period of declining resources, this requires that we maximize the contribution of the reserve components to the total force in peace and war.

We are working hard this year to increase CinC [commander in chief] employment of reserve components to help reduce active perstempo [personnel tempo] and provide real-world training to more Guard and Reserve personnel.

I believe we can provide more realistic training opportunities for our citizen soldiers, coincident with their training requirements, and at the same time help reduce perstempo in the active forces. For example, the Guard and Reserve are helping in a number of operational missions that don't grab the headlines. These include RetroEur [Retro Europe], where excess equipment is being prepared for return from Europe to military bases in the United States, and a mission named Coronet Oak in Latin America, where the Air Guard and Reserve provide training support, embassy resupply, search and rescue, and counterdrug operations.

In many ways increased participation in operational missions is a follow-on and an institutionalization of what has been happening in several reserve components in recent years. The Air Force and the Coast Guard have led the way in this area, and the Naval Reserve's Contributory Support Program is another good case in point. But there's more we can do, and Secretary Perry is asking that we in fact do more. Besides additional operational and exercise support to the services and the CinCs, the Guard and Reserve are providing additional support for traditional CinC programs.

I believe we need to shift from the Cold War stance of reserves training for the sake of training with an occasional operational mission as a byproduct to the post-Cold War stance of reserves doing more operational missions with training as a byproduct. As we move further in this direction there are three elements we need to be sure to address. First, we are working with the Joint Staff and the CinCs to determine the requirements and develop operational plans. The CinCs, after all, are the customers, and they know what is needed in their areas of responsibility.

Second, if we access reserves during their scheduled training periods, we will get double value for our money -- a training value and an operational mission value. By adding additional days through unit and individual volunteer efforts we can meet requirements for overseas peacetime operations of 30 days and beyond. We are working hard to increase peacetime use of the Guard and Reserve in FY 1995 and beyond.

Third, as we move forward we will need some flexibility in implementation. Some of our regulations don't lend themselves to this strategy, so we need to review the rules to see where we might give the services additional latitude in such areas as reserve priority for opportune airlift.

By maximizing the contribution of our Guard and Reserve to the total force in peacetime we can help reduce active perstempo, more effectively use scarce defense resources and provide excellent training for the reserve components. However, we must do more to spur these efforts forward. We must promote mission readiness and accessibility.

We continue to focus on readiness, and as addressed below, we are providing resources in support of the department's readiness goals. The BUR sized the reserve components for three missions -- the two nearly simultaneous MRCs [major regional conflicts], the requirements to meet our nation's domestic missions and strategic insurance.

All three of these needs are formally recognized in sizing the total force. But because time lines for employment vary, readiness levels can be different. What matters most is, are the units ready to perform their missions at the time they would most likely be called upon to do so?

Readiness does not mean that all forces should be or can be equally ready on the first day of the conflict. By resourcing our first-to-fight units ahead of strategic insurance units, we are employing a concept we call mission readiness. This approach allows for the time differential in managing reserve unit call-up. By doing this we apply resources to maintain readiness based on mobilization requirements and timing.

We resource the early deployers to make them ready to go early in the conflict. Since history has shown that war can be so unpredictably filled with uncertainty and that overseas tensions can elevate risk at home, we must maintain forces, albeit in a reduced readiness state, to provide a level of trained back-up support -- strategic insurance as a hedge against unforeseen turns of events.

As part of mission readiness we are working on a number of programs targeted at improving personnel readiness. ...

While the most recent Persian Gulf situation seems to have been diffused without the need for an involuntary call-up, the operation in Haiti clearly has been a good news story for accessibility -- both voluntary and involuntary -- of the reserve components. All of the reserve components have been involved, and in Phase I the Army has had a 97 percent success rate for volunteers, although they subsequently chose to put most units and individuals under the involuntary authority exercised by the president.

The department greatly appreciates your assistance in providing greater access to the Guard and Reserve by allowing the 270-day call-up option. We are working internally to optimize and streamline the procedures to implement this policy.

The BUR determined the requirements for the RCs, and personnel strengths are directly related to those requirements. The drawdown of the reserve forces to the BUR levels is now about two-thirds complete. By FY 1998 the Selected Reserve will comprise nearly 40 percent of the total force, higher than during the Cold War. ...

Related to people readiness are our efforts to reduce the turbulence associated with reductions. By the end of FY 1996 most of our planned reductions will be completed. To get there we must treat our people fairly by providing relevant billets for them to transition into whenever possible or by providing appropriate transition benefits for those forced out of service due to force structure cutbacks.

The department continues to use the full range of Guard and Reserve transition initiatives to ensure fair treatment for involuntarily separated Selected reservists. To maintain our end strength we must sustain our recruiting efforts, as discussed next.

The decrease in the strength of the reserve forces resulting from the drawdown has enabled us to reduce accessions for the Selected Reserve from an average of more than 250,000 per year during the period from FY 1985 through FY 1989 to about 170,000 in FY 1994. In order to minimize training requirements and capture active component experience during the force drawdown period we have emphasized the recruitment of qualified prior service personnel.

Two-thirds of FY 1994 accessions were prior-service personnel, which continues to be a higher proportion than during the late 1980s. Nonprior service accessions averaged just under 100,000 per year in the late 1980s and have now stabilized at about 60,000. One objective of reserve transition policy has been to use the drawdown to encourage high quality personnel with the needed skills who are leaving the active force to affiliate with reserve units. The need to match skills and grades at the unit level in specific geographic areas continues to make reserve component recruiting a challenge.

The quality of enlisted accessions remains high. In FY 1994, 92 percent of our nonprior service gains were high school diploma graduates and 69 percent scored in the upper mental categories on the Armed Forces Qualification Test. We have consistently maintained this high quality level in nonprior service recruiting since FY 1992. Essential to our continued success, however, are our incentive programs, such as targeted bonuses and the Montgomery GI Bill.

Reserve component retention has remained stable after a slight decline that followed the Persian Gulf conflict. Continuation rates for first-term enlisted members have held steady since the beginning of FY 1992 at slightly above 84 percent. Despite the drawdown, the overall attrition rate for the department declined somewhat between FY 1993 and FY 1994, and the 67,377 reservists who left military service during FY 1994 was the lowest number since FY 1991.

The readiness and capabilities of reserve forces depend on the number and quality of full-time military and civilian personnel assigned in support of National Guard and Reserve units. Full-time personnel provide skills, stability, continuity and availability that cannot be reasonably obtained by the use of part-time drilling reservists.

Effective management of this force has become increasingly important and is a priority for the department. Full-time support remains the single most important contributor to reserve unit readiness. As reliance on the reserve components increases, the full-time support force becomes even more critical.

The full-time support force increased by more than 50 percent from 1980 through 1991. The increase in full-time support was directly related to the unprecedented growth experienced by the Selected Reserve during this same period and the changing role of reserve forces, which led to increased capability and increased mission responsibilities. With the downsizing of the reserve components, levels of full-time support are also decreasing, although to a lesser extent than Selected Reserve strengths. Full-time support levels in FY 1997 are projected to be 14 percent lower than the peak strengths in FY 1991. However, in relation to Selected Reserve end strength the percent of full-time support will actually increase slightly between FY 1994 and FY 1997.

All four categories of full-time support -- Active Guard and Reserve personnel, military technicians, and active component and civil service personnel in support of the reserves -- are declining. However, providing sufficient full-time support to Selected Reserve units remains the No. 1 priority of the full-time support program.

The department will continue to assess any potential readiness impact of reductions in full-time support along with the need to readdress reductions in specific categories, such as the military technicians, if readiness impacts are determined to be particularly adverse. We believe that the congressional language in the DoD appropriations act for fiscal year 1995 -- to reduce military technicians only as a direct result of reductions in military force structure -- provides adequate flexibility for managing technician force levels.

A great deal of resources have been expended since 1987 to increase the size and shape of the reserve medical force. The results of those efforts were recognized during Operation Desert Storm. A highly qualified and capable force was called to active duty to support our military health needs within the theater of operations, the United States and other overseas locations.

Since Desert Storm the size and shape of the medical forces, to include the reserves, has undergone close scrutiny through the Section 733 study of the military health care system, to include wartime requirements and the commission of roles and mission medical assessment. The reserve medical forces have been undergoing a great deal of change, not only from force structure modifications -- such as the Army's Medical Force 2000 and the Army National Guard and Army Reserve Offsite Agreement -- but also changes in mission. These mission changes include increased contributory support and CONUS [continental United States] backfill.

Our ability to recruit, train and retain a quality medical force is being challenged amidst this turbulence. The strategies developed in the late 1980s may not be the right ones for today. Methods to improve and document medical readiness training are aggressively being worked by DoD, the services and the Joint Staff.

Simultaneously health affairs and reserve affairs are working with the services' medical recruiting and retention representatives to ensure that adequate tools are available. Specific adjustments to the health professions stipend program and the Selected Reserve bonus test program are being planned.

A shortage of oral surgeons in the Selected Reserve may necessitate including critical dental specialties in the health care stipend authorities. At the request of the reserve chiefs I recently submitted modifications to the list of reserve component wartime health care specialties with critical shortages and the Selected Reserve bonus test program. These changes will allow each reserve medical component to focus its funding and efforts toward their specific wartime needs. We will continue to focus on the trends initiated in the late 1980s and on maintaining the objective of a capable, responsive reserve medical force.

I have defined a long-term strategy to ensure that the RCs have modern, compatible equipment so that they are able to do their job side by side with the active component.

One cornerstone of the strategy is the prompt redistribution of equipment from the drawdown of active forces to RC units whenever practicable. Redistribution is an important management tool which the services have implemented to improve RC equipment readiness and compatibility with the active component.

Other smart management practices being used to make good use of available equipment include cross-leveling of equipment, modification programs and service-life extension programs. Efforts such as these are designed to improve RC equipment readiness at the lowest possible cost.

In addition I am working with a diverse group of experts from the RC, the services and the think tanks to explore other opportunities to provide RC soldiers with the right kind of equipment. I am committed to getting the right equipment delivered to the Guard and the Reserves -- on time. Consistent with this commitment I established RC equipment execution reviews semiannually to review progress on the execution of plans to provide redistributed and new equipment to the RC.

A key component of the equipping strategy is for the services to program and budget for new equipment to fill RC equipment readiness shortfalls, but only when redistribution and other smart management practices cannot do the job. The FY 1996 budget reflects the services' plans to buy new equipment and modification upgrades for the RC.

This equipment will help reduce RC equipment shortfalls in the most critical areas -- combat support and combat service support types of equipment. Categories of CS/CSS equipment which cannot be redistributed/cascaded in sufficient quantities to correct equipment readiness shortfalls include communications gear; night vision goggles; trucks, small boats, trailers, cranes and tractors; power supply equipment; nuclear, biological and chemical protective equipment; as well as engineering and construction equipment.

We have made progress in the development and use of analytical processes to assess RC equipment readiness. Our analyses indicate that the overall RC equipment posture is gradually improving and will continue to improve slowly over time. A noteworthy area of success is the modernization of RC combat equipment.

Providing the training, maintenance and beddown facilities that enhance reserve unit readiness is at the heart of our investment strategy. Reserve component infrastructure continues to be affected by many factors -- downsizing of the reserve force, consolidations within components and realignment among components, leasing buyout programs, BRAC [Base Realignment and Closure]-created reserve enclaves and reserve bases, and our requested military construction program. These factors have caused the MILCON [military construction] backlog to decrease steadily from $9 billion in 1990 to $7.3 billion at the end of FY 94.

Our Real Property Maintenance Activity is a vital element of our facility support for the reserve components. Declining resources and the continuing increasing average age of our facilities (and hence, increasing operation and maintenance costs) is placing considerable strain on our O&M funds.

The reserve components' backlog of maintenance and repair has grown steadily each year and is currently over $1.2 billion. We have funded those RPMA requirements that are critical to the readiness of the reserve components, and we are committed, as with the MILCON program, to funding those requirements driven by urgent situations, health and safety, and environmental laws and regulations.

Environmental legislation and issues are impacting the RCs as they are the ACs [active components] and private industry. To date we have identified 3,704 sites that need cleanup at a cost of $1.3 billion and are working towards full compliance in 10 years. We have budgeted $125 million in FY 95 to manage this problem.

Additionally, the RCs have one of the best and most comprehensive environmental training and awareness programs. All known underground storage tanks are programed for replacement, mediation work is programed, noise pollution and air pollution are being worked, and cleanup is being addressed where solutions are known and understood. The program is ambitious, costly and mirrors those of the ACs.

The BUR called for the development and resourcing of 15 separable Army National Guard combat brigades with readiness enhancements by FY 1999. Their role is to augment, reinforce or backfill active forces. They provide the nation with a strategic insurance against an adverse MRC in a two MRC scenario. They will be able to deploy within 90 days of mobilization. The readiness enhancement initiatives for the ERBs [enhanced readiness brigades] are either on track or well ahead of schedule. These include priority for personnel and equipment fill, training seats and rotations at the combat training centers.

The CFP [contingency force package] includes both USAR [U.S. Army Reserve] and ARNG [Army National Guard] CS and CSS units needed early on to support major contingency operations. Some will be called upon very early in order to deploy and support both the active combat forces and the theater logistics. Units designated as part of the CFP enjoy priority for resourcing, training and active component associations.

The Army is well on its way toward full implementation of the provisions of the Army National Guard Combat Reform Act (Title XI). Recognizing the benefits of Title XI, the Army applies appropriate sections to the Army Reserve as well. Thus, when prioritization is necessary, early deployers receive equal treatment, regardless of component.

Several initiatives are complete or on a path to maturity. These include training associations with active component counterpart units, the nondeployable personnel account, readiness reporting changes, systems and equipment compatibility, inspections and increased use of simulations.

The mandated addition of 5,000 AC soldiers to support RC training is 60 percent complete this year and will be fully accomplished by FY 1997. Many will serve as resident full-time advisers in high priority units. Others will form the new RC training support structure the Army calls Ground Forces Readiness Enhancements that will provide "turnkey" training during both weekend and annual training.

As I reported last year, four of the sections have applicability to all the services' RCs. Appropriate changes will be made in DoD policy, and further legislation is unnecessary. The Army has recommended minor amendments to some of the Title XI initiatives in a legislative proposal submitted this year. I support those changes, as I believe they maintain the emphasis of prioritizing resources to the earlier deployers.

Individual skill qualification match has now become the limiting factor in Selected Reserve unit readiness, particularly in the ground forces. This year I initiated a long-term project to improve our processes for managing the training of individual guardsmen and reservists to meet unit requirements. This project involves the full participation of both active and reserve components of all services.

So far we have begun to take action on a group of initiatives that involve policy changes, improved ways of doing business and development of better information management tools to assist the services in the discharge of their training management responsibilities. These initiatives include leveraging technology (e.g., distance learning) to reduce costs and improve training efficiency, standardizing skill requirements across services where feasible [and] capitalizing on accreditation of civilian-acquired skills to reduce training demands and quickly increase readiness in some units.

This project is really a long-term investment in future force readiness -- the longest life cycle managed in the DoD is the development and employment of the trained soldier, sailor, airman and Marine. Additionally, better training management means reduced unprogramed demands on reservists and their families. This translates directly into better quality of life and directly supports other retention and personnel initiatives.

Distance learning technologies have high payoff for both individuals and teams along three major dimensions: effectiveness, efficiency and increased access. My office has joined with the Office of the Deputy Undersecretary of Defense for Readiness and the Defense Information Systems Agency to establish a total force distance learning action team. The group's goals for this year are document the distance learning requirement, establish standards and obtain interoperability for equipment and systems, achieve long-term funding support and develop a coherent strategy for distance learning that is applicable for all services and components.

Learning productivity and distance-learning technology is a priority interest area for DoD. Our training requirements are large. We cannot meet the training load if we don't change how we do business.

DoD is seeking to accelerate the development and adoption of technologies that can achieve a major leap in training capability, to make learning effective, engaging and fun. I believe adoption of such technologies are vital to training the reserve components of tomorrow.

The Defense Modeling and Simulation Office is promoting the use of modeling and simulation throughout the Department of Defense. The DoD Modeling and Simulation Master Plan has been distributed for final coordination. This document establishes DoD M&S objectives, identifies actions and assigns responsibilities for accomplishing them, and it provides the justification for resource allocations to M&S within DoD component programing and budgeting processes.

The Advanced Research Projects Agency, in cooperation with the Army National Guard, is creating an order of magnitude improvement in the effectiveness and efficiency of training in early deploying combat and combat support units using simulation technologies.

I would like to thank you for your continued strong support of this critical [Reserve Component Automation] system. The chief, National Guard Bureau, is directing the continuing development and fielding of the Reserve Component Automation System for the Army National Guard and the Army Reserve.

I cannot overemphasize how essential this system is to the management of readiness, training and mobilization of the Army reserve components. Current fielding plans would have this system into units by FY 2002. The chief, National Guard Bureau, with the Army's support, is in the process of reviewing alternatives which would permit fielding this important system at a faster pace.

The secretary of defense has adopted quality of life improvements for all military members as a key component of our readiness strategy. These improvements include everything from appropriate pay raises to benefits to employer support and family care programs.

As we make the final reductions in force structure we are helping move displaced personnel into positions in other units whenever possible. For those leaving the force due to downsizing we are providing appropriate transition benefits. With the president's full support and Secretary Perry's major quality of life initiative, we are continuing our priority to put people first.

In the reserve community putting people first also means preparing reservists and their families for the unexpected disruption associated with reserve military service and providing families with an infrastructure to help them be self-reliant. I will discuss these initiatives next.

Our quality of life initiatives are designed to relieve, to the extent possible, conflicts between reserve service and civilian employment. With regard to family readiness and support it is important to recognize that nearly every reservist has a family, parents and siblings as well as a spouse and children, and that crises affecting family members can affect individual readiness. Our efforts in this area are intended to ensure that mechanisms are in place to support reserve families across the spectrum of reserve service from weekend training to mobilization.

With respect to protection against economic loss, the department recognizes the hazards associated with military training and service and the possible economic losses associated with mobilization. Therefore, we are developing specific proposals to minimize the economic impacts of reserve service as well as losses resulting from injuries or illness associated with such service.

Finally, we are preparing a range of initiatives to provide maximum opportunities for reservists and their families to participate in military community life and to make sure that time spent on reserve duty or in training, and away from job and family, is productive time.

There are marked differences in what constitutes quality of life for reservists from that of active component members. Service in the Guard and Reserve requires time away from full-time civilian employment and families and the possibility of involuntary activation. As reservists move in and out of military duty status, there is the potential for gaps in protection. Reservists are sensitive to the policies that extend military facilities and programs to the military community, and they must not be made to feel that they are second-class citizens.

The activation of approximately 250,000 RC personnel during the Persian Gulf war for periods of up to one year during 1990-91 brought the issue of income loss for activated reservists into sharp focus. A significant percentage of reservists suffered serious income losses due to military income less than civilian income (including reserve income), extra expenses incident to mobilization and for self-employed and small business owners, reduced income or erosion of their client base.

A substantial number of activated reservists experienced individual and small business bankruptcy as a result of being called up. Because over 20 percent (more than 47,000) of the reservists mobilized were medical personnel, a large proportion of the income loss cases reported involved physicians, dentists, optometrists and other health care professionals, particularly those in individual or small group practice. The department is reviewing proposals to address these problems.

There have been several legislative proposals introduced over the past decade to provide tax benefits for employers of reservists. Such incentives have been viewed as tax expenditures having a fixed and recurring budgetary effect.

The Department of Defense has had a long-standing concern about the impact on small businesses caused by prolonged absences of employee-reservists and is reviewing proposals to address these problems.

We are beginning to implement the newly passed USERRA [Uniformed Services Employment and Re-employment Rights Act of 1995] legislation, and I appreciate the efforts of those of you who worked hard with us on this important issue for our Guard and Reserve personnel.

The department has published interim guidance in those areas that immediately affect service members and individuals who apply for entry into military service. The guidance, which was provided to the assistant service secretaries and the commandant of the Coast Guard, informed noncareer service members and applicants of the requirements they must meet in order to protect their re-employment rights. This guidance included the requirement to provide advance notice of upcoming service to their civilian employer and advising members of the transition provisions with respect to determining periods of service that count toward the five-year service limit under USERRA.

Since the passage of USERRA on Oct. 13, 1994, the department has worked with the Department of Labor and the Office of Personnel Management to ensure a smooth transition to the new law. This collaboration resulted in policies that met the intent of Congress and were consistent with the transition rules.

DoD intends to issue requirements for the military departments to establish procedures to provide information concerning re-employment rights and obligations to departing noncareer service members upon completion of extended periods of active duty, and disseminate, at least annually, re-employment information to members of their reserve component(s).

We have established a ROPMA [Reserve Officer Personnel Management Act] implementation working group consisting of representatives from OSD [Office of the Secretary of Defense] and each of the services. The working group will meet regularly during the coming months to develop policy guidance for inclusion in existing DoD directives and instructions in preparation for implementation of the ROPMA personnel policy provisions, which are effective Oct. 1, 1996. This guidance will then provide the basis for revising appropriate service regulations.

ROPMA provides the flexibility necessary in the management of the reserve officer force while providing visible career progression opportunities to individuals. It will assist in maintaining a cost-effective reserve component personnel structure within the total force. The ROPMA legislation has been designed to provide the framework for reserve officer management before, during and after periods of call-up or mobilization. It involves over 200 changes to existing law and will provide a comprehensive management system for approximately one-quarter million officers not on the active duty list.

I am convinced that the Montgomery GI Bill-Selected Reserve continues to be one of the most important recruiting and retention incentives for the reserve components. Evidence of its effectiveness includes high overall participation, its beneficial effect on the number of six-year enlistments and its key role with respect to retention. Effectiveness of the program can be evaluated in several ways.

First, overall participation remains high. The end of fiscal year 1994 found more than 184,700 individuals participating in the program. Since its inception there have been over 349,900 National Guardsmen and reservists who have applied for educational assistance. At the end of fiscal year 1994, 37 percent of all members currently eligible for educational assistance had actually applied to receive benefits to support their studies.

Another measure of the value of the program is its effect on the number of six-year enlistments. Since the inception of the Montgomery GI Bill accessions with six-year terms or greater service have steadily increased. The proportion of accessions without prior military service electing six-year terms has increased from 39 percent of Selected Reserve accessions in fiscal year 1985 to 65.3 percent in fiscal year 1994. While other factors play a role in a member's decision, there is no doubt that the Montgomery GI Bill is a significant factor in the decision to enlist for six years or longer.

Closely related as a measure of the value of the Montgomery GI Bill is its effect on retention. An analysis of available data indicates the Montgomery GI Bill plays a particularly important role with respect to retention, especially for the first six years of a reservist's military affiliation. This was confirmed by the analysis conducted by the Sixth Quadrennial Review of Military Compensation and by a Rand Corp. analysis conducted for the assistant secretary of defense for reserve affairs. ...

We have been quite busy recently working to enhance family readiness in the Guard and Reserve. The department has worked closely with the reserve components to strengthen family readiness programs. As a result reserve families are better informed of their benefits and entitlements and are better prepared in the event of a mobilization.

We are particularly proud that grass roots cooperation is thriving in the form of volunteers and family support groups. In September 1994 the first-ever DoD guidance on reserve family readiness was developed and coordinated in a DoD instruction. This instruction also encourages commanders at all levels to support total force joint-service family readiness efforts in maximizing regional cooperation, planning and information sharing. Currently we are asking the services to report on their implementation of this instruction.

During the Persian Gulf crisis, the importance of family readiness programs was clear. Since then the reserve components have done much to enhance their family programs. To further these efforts a Corporate Information Management business process analysis was conducted. The objective was to document the essential elements of family readiness in the National Guard and Reserve. This assessment involved site visits and interviews at headquarters and at the field level involving family support experts and leaders in the Guard and Reserve components. The National Guard family support system was determined to be the most capable of responding to crises because they had established simple, effective plans providing for an expandable support system.

The National Committee for Employer Support for the Guard and Reserve, within my office, operates an outreach program on behalf of the secretary of defense to promote employer support nationwide. More than 4,200 volunteer business and civic leaders, educators, retired military personnel, representatives of local National Guard and Reserve units and other patriotic individuals serving on 55 state, district and territorial committees comprise the Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve grassroots organization.

Each committee is charged with implementing employer support programs to promote awareness of the importance of the National Guard and Reserve and support employer issues and recognition efforts. NCESGR's programs continue to be relevant and invaluable as reliance on the reserve components continues to increase. We believe that as the time away from the work place for reserve components becomes greater and less predictable, the support system provided by NCESGR will become increasingly important to the success of the reserve components' missions.

NCESGR is committed to maintaining a strong alliance with employers, reservists and DoD leadership. Its new strategy, Strength in Partnership, builds on the success of past outreach programs and adopts new programs to encourage a cooperative effort whereby reservists act responsibly toward their employers, commanders foster a good relationship with the employers and the employers freely reciprocate by supporting participation of their employees in the National Guard and Reserve.

Additionally we have developed a number of programs to help reservists get time off for necessary training and deployments. Although legislation is in place to protect reservists from negative actions on the part of employers (such as termination, layoffs, improper reinstatement, denial of promotion or benefits, or discrimination in hiring), NCESGR through its outreach strategy of the Strength in Partnership program is taking a proactive approach to prevent potential complaints and to build positive relationships with employers, reservists and DoD so that they understand and support each other.

If complaints arise, NCESGR's national ombudsman offers informal mediation to resolve conflicts between the employer and the reservist. NCESGR's Mission One program works directly with National Guard and Reserve members.

In addition to the initiatives to keep readiness high mentioned above we are continuing the historical practice of enhancing Guard and Reserve readiness while simultaneously adding value back to the taxpayer. I will discuss these next.

I believe the civil military projects are particularly effective in providing readiness training and giving something tangible back to the American taxpayer, in addition to increasing wartime preparedness. We are continuing to accomplish productive, useful and meaningful civil-military projects that accomplish exactly these things. Historically, the military services have brought their extensive resources -- personnel, equipment, facilities -- to help meet some of the country's civil needs.

In recent years the Department of Defense has realized the simultaneous benefits which these civil-military programs can also offer in military readiness. The SASC [Senate Armed Services Committee] Report on the FY 93 Defense Authorization Act noted the opportunities for enhancing military readiness while assisting in meeting domestic needs:

"The American people have made an enormous investment in developing the skills, capabilities and resources of the armed forces. These resources, if properly matched to local needs and coordinated with civilian efforts, can be a useful contribution to addressing the serious domestic needs of the United States."

With the support of the president and Congress I established the first OSD Directorate for Civil-Military Programs in reserve affairs with two goals in mind: to promulgate policy and provide leadership for establishing or expanding within the services civil-military pilot projects that are done in full partnership with local communities and states [and] to institutionalize those projects which simultaneously are cost effective in meeting domestic needs and provide useful readiness training.

These programs are in keeping with a long military tradition, because America has frequently turned to its military to perform civil missions. The National Guard has responded to natural disasters and domestic violence since before the nation's birth. Most recent examples are in the San Francisco earthquakes, hurricanes Hugo and Andrew, floods in the Midwest and fires in the Pacific Northwest.

In keeping with this long-standing tradition of community support a total of more than 20 new pilot programs operating in more than 48 states in the areas of youth, medical and engineering programs was approved under the Civil-Military Directorate in FY 94 and FY 95.

Let me assure you that this administration views a mission-ready National Guard and Reserve as an essential part of our post-Cold War strategy. As a result, reservists will play an expanded role in war and also be more engaged in these turbulent times of peace. While we ask our people to do more, we must never lose sight of the need to balance a reservist's commitment to country with his or her commitment to family and to their civilian employer.

We have covered much ground in the last two years and the next year promises to be equally challenging. Summing up my goals into one overarching pledge, I commit that I will do all in my power to produce and protect the people and family issues I talked about. I also pledge to work hard to ensure that the National Guard and Reserve is a well trained, mission ready and accessible force -- a force that can take on missions our country assigns to it overseas and a force that protects Americans here at home.

Thank you for this opportunity to testify on behalf of the finest military Guard and Reserve force in the world.

 

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