Seal of the Department of Defense U.S. Department of Defense
Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense (Public Affairs)
On the Web:
Media contact: +1 (703) 697-5131/697-5132
Public contact:
or +1 (703) 571-3343

Change, Readiness and the Reserve Components
Remarks by Deborah R. Lee, assistant secretary of defense for reserve affairs, the Association of Military Surgeons of the United States, Anaheim, Calif., , Wednesday, October 11, 1995

Thank you. ... Today I would like to talk about three specific areas, all of which involve change.

First, I'd like to review where we've been and where I think we're going with respect to the role of the Guard and Reserve in the national military strategy.

Second, I'd like to report on where we are on a number of quality of life initiatives that are particularly important to members of the National Guard and Reserve. I'm a firm believer that as we ask our people to do more, as we clearly are doing in this new world environment, we owe it to them to be proactive on quality of life.

And third, I'd like to give you my perspective on how we can improve and protect medical readiness in the future. Although the idea of citizen-soldiers is as old as the nation itself, it was only 25 years ago that the concept of a fully integrated total force was introduced by then-Secretary of Defense Melvin Laird. You remember those days back in the 1970s: The country was embroiled in the Vietnam War -- a conflict in which we chose not to call the Guard and Reserve in big numbers. We also were vastly outgunned in Europe by the Soviet Union as we began yet another decade of the Cold War.

During the Cold War, the role of the National Guard and Reserve was to reinforce -- to back up -- U.S. conventional forces during a global war with the Soviet Union. In today's post-Cold War world, the National Guard and Reserve are no longer the backup forces of last resort. Rather, we are counting on them more and more to respond quickly and decisively for wartime missions, peacetime missions and domestic emergency response missions. It's a strategy straight from the Bottom-up Review that we call compensating leverage, and already it is at work in all of the reserve components.

Let me share a few medical examples of the operational contribution you and your colleagues are making in domestic and worldwide military missions.

In Croatia, the former Yugoslavia, Naval Reserve medical personnel, assigned to an active component fleet hospital, are providing medical care and supporting a 60-bed hospital as part of Operation Provide Promise in Zagreb. Air Reserve personnel are backfilling for active duty hospital personnel who deployed to Croatia.

In Latin America and the Caribbean, Guard and Reserve medical personnel have, for years, been major players in SOUTHCOM's [U.S. Southern Command] humanitarian exercises -- providing medical, dental and veterinary care in rural communities in places such as Panama, Belize, the Bahamas, Barbados, the Dominican Republic, Venezuela, Ecuador and Honduras. In FY [fiscal year] 95 alone, the Army and Air National Guard medical personnel provided more than 50,000 patients with primary health care and dental care.

In Rwanda, as part of Operation Restore Hope, Air Force Reserve personnel deployed to various locations to assist in the initial set up of an aeromedical evacuation system.

In Guantanamo Bay [Cuba], Naval Reserve medical professionals and Air Reserve medical squadrons have participated in Operation Sea Signal -- supporting the clinic at Guantanamo Naval Air Base for the Cuban and Haitian refugee relief program.

And performing similar exercises here at home, the Army Reserve, in coordination with the Air Force Reserve, provided a deployable medical facility, as well as medical equipment and personnel, to allow the 55,000 members of the Navajo Nation at Winslow, Ariz., to receive care while their regular medical facility was being rebuilt. On a smaller scale, in the state of Alaska, both Marine Corps Reserve and Army Reserve dental technicians and medical personnel set up similar operations to serve the native Eskimo population.

These domestic civil-military pilot programs, coordinated in my office, basically allow reservists the opportunity to do here at home what they have been doing for years around the world -- practicing their skills, enhancing their training for wartime -- while also addressing the critical health care needs of communities.

These examples -- and many others within and beyond the medical world -- are the kinds of contributions that reinforce my belief and Secretary of Defense Bill Perry's belief that the Guard and Reserve can and should play a greater peacetime role in our national defense. As a result, Dr. Perry has directed a major new initiative in which National Guard and Reserve personnel will be further integrated into a wide range of projects that have specifically been identified as priorities of the services and of the geographic commanders in chief.

For FY 96 and FY 97, Secretary Perry has provided 25 million additional dollars per year -- funds that will be matched by the services and the CinCs [commanders in chief] -- to help cover incremental man- day and transportation costs associated with sending more reservists where the work needs to be done. The primary focus of these initiatives will be to relieve active perstempo [personnel tempo], and each will be the result of requests made by the CinCs.

Step 1 in getting this pilot program off the ground was to ask the CinCs if they could use some help from our Guard and Reserve. Let me tell you -- they said yes big time -- more than 600 projects were identified worldwide. As a sampling from the medical world, we're likely to see in FY 96 additional Air Guard opportunities in U.S. European Command to participate in medical exercises in Bulgaria, Chad, Poland and Tunisia; and Air Force Reserve opportunities to provide medical backfill to the active component in Europe.

The first message I bring to you this morning is that the total force is alive and well as it turns 25 - - but times have changed. Whereas the wartime role of the Guard and Reserve forces has been and will remain critical, so long as budgets remain tight and the tempo of day-to-day military operations remain[s] high, the reserve components will have a tremendous peacetime role to play in support to the active forces. In my judgment, peacetime support in operational missions is the key to solidifying the next 25 years worth of support for the total force.

I mentioned earlier that, as we ask the Guard and Reserve to do more, we must pay more attention to their quality of life. Many of you know that Dr. Perry has made troop quality of life improvements a major DoD priority. My second message to you this morning is that I'm trying to follow in his footsteps by placing quality of life at the top of my agenda on behalf of members of the Guard and Reserve.

At the outset, let me say thank you to those of you who participated in the Persian Gulf War and who took the time -- after you came home -- to respond to the survey conducted by my office. Your input was invaluable in helping us understand what needs to be done to address reserve component quality of life concerns. Let me review some of the areas in which we have made good progress.

First, on family support, you told us that we needed to do a better job of preparing families for their roles in a call-up. We heard from a number of you that, especially the first several months of the conflict, there was great anxiety and stress among family members as some units did not give families any information.

Well, since that time we have issued the first-ever DoD instruction on reserve component family readiness, and the services are now engaged in the implementation of this guidance. This directive requires Guard and Reserve commands to:

  • Include family briefings as a part of mobilization training;
  • Distribute information on all benefits and entitlements to reserve members and their families;
  • Develop family assistance programs; and,
  • Establish a single point-of-contact at the unit level for family requests for information and referral.

The dental readiness of mobilizing reservists, while in no way a war-stopper, was a matter of some concern during Operation Desert Storm. And nearly two- thirds of you who responded to the survey said you would be interested in purchasing dental insurance if it were available and affordable. There are two things happening in this area.

First, the defense authorization bill now in conference in Congress will likely produce a dental insurance pilot program for the Selected Reserve.

Second, my staff and Dr. [Stephen] Joseph's [assistant secretary of defense for health affairs] staff have developed a concept plan for a dental program that we believe will be fully compatible with whatever action ultimately comes out of the Congress.

Our plan includes an assessment of the current status of reserve members, a test of a dental plan in several sample regions and then follow-on analysis of what would be required to establish a cost-effective and affordable program.

You also told us that we need more flexibility and lead time in training schedules to make deployments and training work right -- and we're attempting to do just that. It's important that we look to our successes and then try to emulate them elsewhere -- successes, like in the U.S. Southern Command, where reserve component rotations are planned well in advance, providing supervisors and employers with longer lead times to prepare for employee absences.

You also told us of your worries about economic loss and whether or not your job -- or your medical practice -- would still be there when you came home. As this audience knows all too well, Desert Shield and Desert Storm took a heavy financial toll on many reservists -- with many reports of lost income and even some losses of businesses.

We believe we can do a better job for reservists in the event of another call-up with our proposal for a mobilization insurance program. Much like the disability insurance that is carried for the private medical practice, this proposal would give members of the reserves an optional, self-funded insurance policy which would kick in when there is a presidential call- up. Coverage could be selected by the reservist, ranging from $1,000 to $5,000 of income protection per month of an activation.

The good news is that the Congress picked up on this idea and included it in the defense authorization bill now in conference. So this initiative is moving forward.

You also told us that we need to help employers to better understand the requirements -- and manage the consequences -- of their employees' service in the reserves. I also realize that there may be a number of you, being self-employed or a partner in a practice, who actually wear two hats -- that of a reservist and also that of an employer.

Never has it been more important that bosses understand the changed roles and missions of the Guard and Reserve in the post-Cold War world. That's why the work of the National Committee for Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve), its newly formed Employer Action Council and its network of volunteers across the country is so critical.

Changes to federal law contained in USERRA -- the Uniformed Services Employment and Re-employment Rights Act -- will also be helpful to employers. Not only does it clarify a number of employment issues, but it also imposes new requirements on reservists with respect to prior notice and documentation for their employers.

In the legislative arena, we continue to work on our proposal for tax credits for employers of activated reservists, with a focus on self-employed and small businesses. Our proposal is for a credit, up to $2,000 per employee, capped at $7,500 per business, which would apply only to those timeframes when employees are ordered to active duty. Given the current fiscal climate on Capitol Hill, this may be an uphill battle but one that we believe is well worth the effort.

I am pleased to report that this tax credit proposal was among the priorities identified in the recent report of Dr. Perry's Quality of Life Task Force. The task force also endorsed our strategy for increased use of the Guard and Reserve, particularly as it pertains to reserve medical personnel augmenting active forces. And they underscored the need to ensure that we provide an equitable health care package to reserve personnel and their families -- whether on extended active duty, like our active Guard and Reserve personnel, or activated in support of missions such as those described earlier Dr. Joseph and I will be jointly working toward this goal.

Medical readiness has taken on increased emphasis since our experience in the Persian Gulf War. Minimum medical training standards are now being developed in coordination with health affairs, reserve affairs, the Joint Staff and the services, and we are actively discussing and reviewing measures of readiness to ensure that they accurately reflect medical capability.

Measures like SORTS, the Status of Resources and Training System, which provide at any point in time the status of a unit's resources and training required to undertake the mission for which it was organized or designed. The challenge, again, in a time of vast constraints on dollars and on time to train, is to satisfy the requirements of wartime readiness while also fulfilling the peacetime mission of health care support.

The third message I bring you this morning is that I'm convinced we can achieve both goals if we think inventively, creatively and flexibly and if we successfully respond to three key challenges:

First, the challenge described earlier -- to creatively use annual training days for the kind of peacetime support that reinforces readiness training;

Second, the challenge to leverage training technology to our best advantage;

And third, the challenge to realize the goal of a stable force structure as soon as possible.

Although there are many key ingredients to readiness, medical or otherwise, military experts agree that top-notch training is the cornerstone. And I will tell you that the leadership of the Department of Defense recognizes that aggressive use of technology can help us revolutionize the way we train, reduce our long-term costs, maximize the time we have available for training and, in the case of the reserves, deliver a high-quality, standardized product to a geographically dispersed population.

Last year, the deputy secretary of defense asked me to assemble a team and take a look at not only the current applications of the technology, but at the future potential for distance learning for the reserve components and for all of the Department of Defense. Our team -- known as the Distance Learning Action Team, has representation from the military services, the Joint Staff and the Office of the Secretary of Defense. Our team will soon report our findings and recommendations to the deputy secretary, including the need for an overall DoD strategy to focus policy attention and resources on distance learning.

One thing that I discovered, however, during our review was that some of the most interesting and innovative initiatives in distance learning are happening right now,today,in the reserve medical world. Let me tell you about one in particular called Merlin, which was developed by my office in coordination with health affairs.

Merlin, which stands for the medical readiness learning initiative, is an interactive computer- simulation which provides realistic medical training to medical units across the country that are linked by the Internet. So far, the Merlin system has been tested as an integral element in the Careforce program. Careforce has a focus on wartime medical readiness training, with trauma teams working side by side with emergency medical personnel supporting underserved inner city hospitals. A major National Guard exercise in St. Louis several months ago, called Arch Angel, was the first major test of the system.

Arch Angel is one of the civil/military cooperation pilot programs coordinated out of my office. Let me say that while some might think that the peacetime setting for these civil-military programs could detract from training for wartime trauma, the fact is about 70 percent of wartime causalties are disease and nonbattlefield injuries -- the very kind of symptoms and injuries that the medical civil-military programs are well-suited to treat.

The other challenge I see related to readiness is to achieve as quickly as possible the right force structure for reserve medical personnel to best meet the U.S. military strategy of the post-Cold War world. I don't have to tell all of you that our reserve medical forces have appeared to sustain more than their fair share of turbulence, driven by everything from the Army Offsite Agreement to equipment modernization, unit reconfigurations, congressional direction, reorganizations, force reductions and mission changes.

I know that the turbulence of the last six years has created considerable stress throughout the reserve community. And I also realize that it has made even more difficult our ability to retain and recruit the key medical skills needed now and in the future.

I wish I could tell you that the turbulence will end by [a certain date]. Regrettably I can't do that, but I can tell you that reserve medical skills are now and will continue to be critical to the survival of our military forces. I challenge each of you to remain as dedicated and flexible as you have been in the past. We know that you yearn for stability -- we do, too -- and we'll try to get there as soon as we can!

As I close, let me assure you that the future is not only one of challenge. There are also many opportunities for personal and professional growth, for service here at home and around the world, and for new joint efforts to tap into the strengths of the total medical force -- active, Guard and Reserve.

It's important that we fully understand what each component does best and how its contribution can be maximized. I applaud the efforts of working groups that have already been wrestling with these very issues, and I look forward to the dialogue that will be generated by the joint health affairs/reserve affairs coordinating committee which Steve Joseph and I recently established. This committee is co-chaired by Maj. Gen. George Anderson, Dr. Joseph's deputy assistant secretary for health services, operations and readiness and Mr. Al Bemis, my deputy assistant secretary for manpower and personnel. I am pleased to report that this committee has already met and laid out some priority issues:

  • First, fitness of the force. Helping to ensure the medical fitness of the reserve force, which is part of your peacetime mission, is an extremely important function. I realize that it's a mission that does not always parallel wartime training, but it's essential to readiness and we may need to look at more creative training strategies to ensure that reserve medical forces are successful in achieving both this mission and wartime training.
  • Second, health care benefits for reserve members. It is important to clarify the medical benefits for reserve members in whichever duty status they may be serving. As the military health care system transitions to TRICARE, reserve members on extended active duty should receive treatment comparable to their active counterparts.
  • Third, reserve medical readiness and the role of reserves in contingency operations. I have noted from previous medical conferences that reserves are sensitive to being used only in a backfield role when they train regularly for deployment.
  • And fourth, communication. Simply put, we need to do a better job of it among ourselves, between active and reserve components, within OSD and the Joint Staff, and within the medical command structure of the services.

Let me repeat a point I made earlier. Change is all around us, change is never easy or quick, yet, change we must. I would offer you a perspective on dealing with change from Adm. Hyman Rickover. In reflecting on the early days of nuclear power and the difficulty in getting approval to build the first nuclear submarine, he said "Nothing worthwhile can be accomplished without determination. Good ideas are not adopted automatically. They must be driven into practice with courageous patience."

We now have a unique opportunity to use the National Guard and Reserve as compensating leveragefor the uncertainties we face in the post-Cold War world. We certainly have our work cut out for us. But I know that, together, we can exercise courageous patience and ensure that the reserve force of the 21st century is a force that can take on the war-fighting and peacetime missions our country assigns to them, a force that contributes to America here at home, a force comprised of top-notch men and women working hand in hand with the active duty force -- a force second to none.

Thank you very much for the opportunity to be here today. It has been my pleasure.

Prepared remarks by Deborah R. Lee, assistant secretary of defense for reserve affairs, at the TELECON XV conference in Anaheim, Calif., Oct. 27, 1995.

... I am proud to be here before you as the secretary of defense's principal adviser on matters relating to the National Guard and Reserves, representing the more than 1 million citizen-soldiers, airmen, sailors, Marines and Coast Guardsmen of the United States military's reserve components.

These full-time civilian and part-time military members hold busy civilian jobs, meet military training responsibilities -- a minimum of 39 days per year -- support their families and live in communities and neighborhoods all across the country. And in times of war or special need, they answer the call and go where the president needs them for as long as they may be needed.

We used 250,000 reservists during the Persian Gulf War, we still have some serving in Haiti, and if our country decides to go into Bosnia, I'm certain the Guard and Reserve will go, too. Today we have at least small numbers of reserve component members plugged into virtually every operational mission we're running around the world.

Let me give you a few examples of what your reserves have been doing this past year.

Some months ago, I visited Air National Guard and Air Force Reserve fighter, airlift and tanker units at Aviano Air Base, Italy. Those units have since returned home, but they have been replaced by other units, which are still there helping to reinforce the no-fly zones over Bosnia and Iraq as well as providing humanitarian assistance in these troubled parts of the world.

Incidentally, within the last two weeks, Capt. Scott O'Grady, who was shot down and then rescued earlier this year in Bosnia, has joined the ranks of the Air Force Reserve.

The Naval Reserve has A-6 squadrons that augment active duty squadrons. Last summer, I caught up with them off the coast of Virginia on the aircraft carrier USS George Washington, where these reservists were going through their so-called carrier qualification so that they could join their regular Navy counterparts on the USS Eisenhower in the Mediterranean in support of Operation Deny Flight.

The Army National Guard and Army Reserve are also working around the globe. They have been the backbone of an operation called Retroeur, in which U.S. military equipment in Europe is prepared and shipped back to the U.S. for redistribution throughout the U.S.

Then there was the all-volunteer Army battalion in the Sinai made up mostly of National Guard and Reserve members which stood watch for six months in the Gulf of Aqaba as members of the multinational force to observe, report and verify the compliance of Israel and Egypt with the 1981 Camp David Accords.

Among the assignments taken on by the Marine Corps Reserve this past year has been relieving active duty Marines with Marine Reserve rifle companies in support of the U.S. military's refugee detention camp at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

And finally, Coast Guard Reservists in Cape Canaveral, Fla., serve as part of the recovery team for all NASA space launches.

As you can see, the people I represent are doing important jobs all around the world, not just once every decade or two, but day in and day out. It was Winston Churchill who described the reserves as "twice the citizen," and in my opinion, he was right!

One of the reasons our military forces are able to keep up with the many demands we place upon them is our emphasis on readiness. In fact, my boss, Defense Secretary Bill Perry, has made readiness our Job 1. Let me assure you that despite some of the negative reports we sometimes see in the press, our forces are ready today to do the jobs the country expects of them, we're spending more readiness-related dollars per soldier than ever before, and everyonefrom the president on down is committed to keeping readiness high.

Although there are many key ingredients to readiness, military experts agree that top-notch training is the cornerstone. It's why we're ready today, and why we'll stay ready tomorrow and into the 21st century. The leadership of the Department of Defense recognizes that one of the biggest influences on military training is technology. As recently as last week, the DoD quality of life task force included further development of distance learning among its recommendations to Secretary Perry.

Training poses a special challenge for members of the Reserves. They have limited time available for training, they are widely disbursed throughout America, and as I mentioned earlier, their budgets -- like all other government budgets -- are very tight.

Since we in the reserve components have been wrestling with this challenge, the deputy secretary of defense knew I had a direct interest in the application of information technology. As a result, last year he directed me to assemble a team and take a look at not only the current applications of the technology, but the future potential for distance learning for the reserve components and for all of the Department of Defense.

Our team, known as the Distance Learning Action Team, has representation from the military services, the Joint Staff and the Office of the Secretary of Defense. Our goal quite simply is to work toward the day in which we can bring high-quality, cost-effective training to each armory and reserve center across the country.

It has been said that "technology is the science of arranging life so that one need not experience it. Certainly distance learning technology is the pipeline through which we can conduct training, collect and process information, provide community support and communicate more rapidly through the military chain of command.

It's also a pipeline we can use to eventually cut our costs. As a rough estimate, we believe that we can save 25 to 35 percent of current travel budgets if we can bring more training to the military at home station rather than bringing more military personnel to the classroom.

While no overall distance learning strategy currently exists at DoD, there are distance learning initiatives scattered throughout the military, all of which seem to confirm that it's an approach to training that can better provide military personnel with practical knowledge at the times and places where it is needed. This is especially true for members of the National Guard and Reserve. Through distance learning, more students can be taught where they work and live, and most importantly, instructors can engage them in the course work and observe their performance easily whether they are down the hall, across the country or even halfway around the world!

I saw this for myself last summer when I visited that volunteer Army battalion on a peacekeeping mission in the Sinai. Each squad served 21 days at an observation post, then 21 days back at the base camp -- seven days of which were devoted to classroom instruction linked through distance learning technology to an instructor back home at the University of Maryland.

Most of the troops were taking the Primary Leadership Development Course, a two-week residential course key to entry into the noncommissioned officer corps, which is usually difficult for members of the reserves to take because of the time required away from the job.

The Sinai mission shows one application of how the technology can allow military personnel at remote locations to use their time most effectively for training. The same principle applies to less dramatic situations -- situations where it is now necessary to travel from one military base to another for classroom instruction. I'm convinced that if we develop distance learning effectively, such travel in the future will be the exception rather than the rule.

A second innovative example of distance learning technology is found in the area of medical readiness training. It's called Merlin, or the medical readiness learning initiative, and it was developed for use in the civil/military pilot projects that are coordinated by my office.

In this case, Merlin isn't a magician. Rather, it's a trauma management training program built around the Internet and off-the-shelf computer component systems to bring interactive trauma management training into hospitals, medical units and other remote sites. It's been tested in a major National Guard medical readiness training exercise, held this past August in St. Louis, called Arch Angel. The purpose of the exercise, which included Air National Guard personnel from six states, was to test the ability of civilian and military emergency personnel to respond and work together as they would in a major disaster.

A third example of how we're effectively using distance learning today is the National Guard NCO Academy, which used to accommodate roughly 1,100 students annually and which can now can handle up to 3,600 due to the electronic classroom. Similarly, an Air Force course in acquisition management used to accommodate 300 students each year; now with distance learning connecting more than 30 bases, it is estimated that yearly enrollment can go up to 3,000.

Finally, distance learning technology can be enormously helpful for allowing units located in different geographic areas to practice fighting together as a team without actually coming together physically as a team. For example, as we speak, [students at] the Army's Armored and Airborne Advanced course[s] ... at Fort Rucker, Ala., and Fort Knox, Ky., are linked together electronically to train as part of a combined arms team on the same simulated battlefield.

These examples tell me that distance learning technology could well be a silver bullet for military training in the future if we leverage it properly. Our Distance Learning Action Team will soon report recommendations to the deputy secretary that are designed to get us started in that direction. Let me give you an idea of what we will be recommending.

First, we need a long-term, cohesive investment strategy. The services are only beginning to include distance learning technologies in their training strategies and we need to ensure that as dollars are programed for this purpose, there is input from both senior civilian and military leadership. And we need to be sure that we act jointly.

Second, we need to perform cost-benefit analyses to include a comprehensive review of all costs and savings associated with distance learning -- not just the investment in new equipment and networks, which sometimes gives the services "sticker shock," but also savings associated with conversion of the conventional classroom and savings associated with fewer travel requirements.

And third, we need to develop standards for DoD's distance learning technology that are both compatible with interactive courseware products readily available off the shelf and that facilitate the sharing of resources. As my other boss, Deputy Secretary John White said: "Innovation is critically important if we are going to have a new, reliable and flexible organization that can respond to change. And (with respect to information technology) we need to reach out, adapt to what's going on and use it for our own purposes."

I might add that our efforts within DoD have actually been instrumental in creating a wider network of federal agencies called GATE, or the Government Alliance for Training and Education. The purpose of GATE is to facilitate communication and development of systems that will integrate architecture, courseware data bases and course delivery. It is expected that GATE will also assist education and training program managers in identifying standardization requirements and assure optimum interoperability across and among networks. At the last meeting of GATE, representatives of close to 30 different federal government entities -- military and nonmilitary -- were in attendance.

Let me conclude by saying once again: We're faced with many challenges, and change is all around us. As a result, some of the ways we have always done business are being re-evaluated and replaced with exciting new innovations, like our country's increased use of the reserves and the field of distance learning.

For some, change will be an exciting opportunity. To others, it will merely be an inconvenience,.and to still others, it will be intimidating and unsettling. I'm sure you will agree that how we all react to change, how we deal with new technologies, has a lot to do with whether or not we know where that change will lead us.

I'm reminded of the time U.S. Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, who at that point was well on in years, got on a train and discovered he had lost his ticket. Fortunately, the conductor recognized him and said, "Oh, don't worry, Mr. Justice, I'm sure you'll find your ticket if you keep on looking."

Justice Holmes replied, "The question, Mr. Conductor, is not where is the ticket. The question is, where am I going?"

Where we're going in DoD is toward a 21st century in which we aggressively leverage high technology, so that the readiness of our force remains second to none. And it has been tremendously satisfying for me, personally, to serve in government and to represent the top-notch men and women who serve in today's National Guard and Reserve. They're the best force we've ever had, and all of us in Washington are committed to keeping it that way.

Thank you very much for the opportunity to be here today. It has been my pleasure.

Published for internal information use by the American Forces Information Service, a field activity of the Office of the Assistant to the Secretary of Defense (Public Affairs), Washington, D.C. Parenthetical entries are speaker/author notes; bracketed entries are editorial notes. This material is in the public domain and may be reprinted without permission. Defense Issues is available on the Internet via the World Wide Web at