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DoD News Briefing: Deborah Lee, Assistant Secretary of Defense for Reserve Affairs

Presenters: Deborah Lee, Assistant Secretary of Defense for Reserve Affairs
December 12, 1995 11:00 AM EDT

Monday, December 11, 1995 - 2 p.m.

Ms. Lee: Good afternoon. On December 8th, the President signed an executive order authorizing the call up of selective Reserve personnel for operation JOINT ENDEAVOR. This constitutes the third time in the last five years that members of the National Guard and Reserve forces -- which are our part-time military forces -- have been called to active duty by the President. The first time, of course, was operation DESERT SHIELD/DESERT STORM in which we called approximately a quarter of a million Reservists to active duty. The second time was Haiti when we called approximately 3,000 to active duty; and now, of course, for the Bosnian operation where we are projecting about 3,800.

Also on December 8th, the Secretary of Defense authorized the service secretaries to actually implement the Presidential order and call the members of the Reserves to active duty for up to 270 days. So, about nine months. And again, that is a change over the period of duty which we called for Haiti and for DESERT STORM.

For the Army, the breakout is up to 3,388 members. For the Navy, up to 171 members. Marine Corps Reserves, up to 100 members. And the Air Force Reserves and Air Force National Guard, up to 141 members.

Now, I will tell you at this time, only the Army projects the need to actually utilize the authority for the involuntary call-up. The other services at this time believe that they can fulfill their needs based solely on the scheduling of volunteers. So, they intend to work voluntarily to the hilt for the time being, but they can rely on those numbers as well for the future should they need them.

I will also tell you that the Army, which has the bulk of the numbers involved, is projecting that no units in this call-up which we are announcing today are units which were similarly called for Haiti. So, we're making an effort not to go back to the same units over and over again as we put out the call.

Now in Bosnia, Reserve personnel will provide support in functions such as civil affairs, psychological operations, public affairs, medical, communications, and water purification. We will also have Reserve personnel deploying to Europe as backfill for the active component units which will move forward to Bosnia. And these units will serve in the areas of military police, finance, logistics, transportation, public affairs, and medical.

Today, the Army began mobilizing -- at home station -- 11 Army Reserve units, all of which reside in Europe. So, those that are being called to active duty today are all in Europe -- either in Germany or in Italy.

On Thursday -- this Thursday, December 14th -- we will have additional units of the Army National Guard and Reserve being mobilized at home station. These units are continental United States units and they will be expected to arrive at their respective mobilization stations by the 18th of December. There's two points where Reservists will go. It will either be Fort Dix or Fort Benning where they will initiate their post mobilization training prior actually going to Europe.

Now for those who are then scheduled further to go specifically into Bosnia, those Reserve troops will receive additional training when they arrive in Europe and this training will involve cold weather and mine detection training. I would note to you that the Reserve component troops will receive exactly the same training that the active duty soldiers receive.

The Reserves who are being called now and who will be called shortly for this operation are in addition to those who have been involved in Bosnia for several years. And by that, I mean that we have had Air Force Reserve, National Guard, and Naval Reserve, fighter, air-lift, and tanker units flying critical supplies into Sarajevo and helping to reinforce the no-fly zone over Bosnia for a number of years now.

We've also had Naval Reserve medical personnel who have provided medical care and supported a 60-bed hospital as part of operation PROVIDE PROMISE in neighboring Croatia. We've had Air National Guard chaplains that have rotated teams into Pisa, Italy at 15 and 30-day intervals in support of the troops who are part of DENY FLIGHT. And even during the recent peace negotiations at Wright-Patterson, we had a Reserve presence. I want you to know we had a Serbian Orthodox Air Force Reserve chaplain who was called in to be a resource to the negotiating teams on matters relating to religion and culture.

Now because Reservists are part-time soldiers and they are full-time something else, let me just say a word about their employment situation and about family support. Since we are very aware that we cannot expect them to do their job for us if we don't in turn protect them and do the job that we must do for them. With respect to family support, we're proud to have issued the first ever DoD instruction on Reserve family programs within the last year which makes it a command responsibility to develop family readiness plans. So, as a result, the families of Reservists identified for this activation will receive briefings and family support issues will be addressed at their Reserve Center.

To give you an idea of some of the things that DoD will be doing and that the units are required to do; family briefings as part of mobilization training, distribution of information on all benefits and entitlements to Reserve members and their families; and establishment of a single point of contact at the unit level for family requests for information and referral.

I will tell you this family readiness program is also a change over what we had during DESERT STORM and for that matter, in Haiti. During DESERT STORM, we learned that our family assistance programs for the Reserves were spotty at best and so, we've been working ever since to improve upon that situation.

With respect to employers, the Uniformed Services Employment and Re-employment Rights Act provides a right to reinstatement to pre-service employment including protection of seniority status and rate of pay. This covers those who are involuntarily called up and it also covers those who serve as volunteers. So, Reservists have the right to go back to their old job and they have the right to expect the same level of seniority and rate of pay.

We have an organization which we call the National Committee for Employer Support of the Guard and Reserves which manages 4,500 volunteers across the country and we are now aggressively working with the employers in America as well as the members of our National Guard and Reserve to make sure that we get the information out so that we can best support our folks in the field.

In conclusion, I would just note for you that what we call our Total Force Policy which is what we refer to as our active and Reserve component integration, that Total Force Policy is now turning 25 years old. And in this busy post Cold War world in which we live, I think it's becoming pretty obvious to one and all that the Reserves are no longer the back-up force of last resort as they frequently were viewed during the Cold War. They're no longer the forces that get called up only in the event of a major global war, but rather today's National Guard and Reserve are being counted upon more and more to respond quickly and decisively to the entire array of missions that our country runs on a daily basis.

So in sum, I would tell you that I feel confident that our Reserve troops are well trained and that they are ready and that I'm confident that they will perform to the highest level of standards right alongside their active duty counterparts. Yes?

Q: Can you tell me what is the 270 day call up compared in duration to the other two DESERT STORM/DESERT SHIELD and Haiti? Do you remember how long that call up was for?

A: In DESERT STORM, Reservists were initially called for 180 days. The law used to be 180 days. However, in DESERT STORM, that period of time was extended. So, we did have Reservists who served for a year or even longer in DESERT STORM.

In Haiti, similarly, we had Reservists called and came to duty for 180 days by policy. The law has changed within the last year or so, so it no longer reads 180 days under the presidential call up but rather 270 days.

What we're looking at specifically is about roughly a six-month deployment and that would allow you time on the front and as well as time at the end of the deployment. Beginning of the deployment obviously, we have some train up needs before we send people overseas and at the end of the deployment, there is a demobilization period that everyone goes through.

Q: Can you also tell me how many additional units are going to be called up on Thursday? Do you know how many ... how many ... how many will be called up and whether any of them are local?

A: I'm afraid I don't have those precise numbers. Yes, sir.

Q: You did mention that 141 Air Force members will be mobilized, all of those apparently volunteers from what you stated.

A: Well, the 141 is the number that the Air Force has the authority to involuntarily call up if they so choose.

Q: They can fill that voluntarily?

A: But, they expect to fill all their needs through volunteers.

Q: I'm surprised that the Air Force would need more people. Is most of the air-lift and refueling is going to be handled by active duty forces or do you need that much refueling because of the fairly short distance from Germany into Bosnia?

A: Well, 141 is what they can involuntarily call if they so choose. The numbers of volunteers may well be in excess of that. But, they have the ability to go involuntarily 141 if they think they need it. I would expect they'll have more than that number involved periodically throughout the operation.

Q: So, but that 141 if you add all these up, you get 3,800. So what you're saying is that more people may actually be activated than 3,800, right? But those over and above the 3,800 will definitely be volunteers, correct?

A: That's correct.

Q: The numbers that are being called up this week is a relatively small number I gather several hundred or so. When will the bulk of this 3,800 be called up? Is there kind of a schedule you can give us to how this will happen?

A: I do not have a precise schedule other than to repeat the notion that it will be approximately a 60-day window in which all of our troops will be largely deploying overseas. So, I would expect that the Reserves will be phased in accordingly. But, I can't tell you specifically when the bulk of it would occur.

Q: You mean this is just like for this week or for this month basically, these numbers?

A: The numbers before you cover this week and then there will be other updates as they become available.

Q: If the call up is going to be or the time we serve over there will be six months, will there be two shifts or one group of people who have spent six months over there come back and demobilized whether or not [inaudible]?

A: We're projecting at this point two rotations with the notion that approximately six months overseas for a Reserve unit to then be replaced presumably by another unit.

Q: Will all 3,388 of those in the Army authorized to be called up actually be mobilized?

A: That is the maximum figure which the Army is authorized. So, it's possible there may be somewhat fewer than that.

Q: Do you have a breakdown on how many of those will be in this country and how many might be overseas of Reserves?

A: I do not have that breakdown I'm afraid.

Q: Do you have a figure on roughly of the 3,388 how many in the Army Reserves have volunteered for duty in Bosnia?

A: The Army prefers entire units. They train as units and so they prefer to deploy as units. So, the Army with the exception of a category of people called individual mobilization augmentees with the exception of that group, the Army will involuntarily call units.

Q: But, are you getting a lot of Reservists volunteering for duty in Bosnia like you did in the Gulf War?

A: Yes. Now, we typically do have more people who step forward and who would like to participate than sometimes we're able to accommodate.

Q: Do you have any figures on how many people volunteered?

A: I do not have the figures though.

Q: How quickly will those units that are called up this week be in Bosnia?

A: I don't have that information either I'm afraid. They, as I said, will receive all of the same training that the active duty soldiers receive. If you add up the number of days involved, it is certainly still at least several weeks from now.

Q: The first step is that they report by December 18th to Fort Dix or Fort Benning. Is that what you said?

A: Yes.

Q: Then what happens after that?

A: They go through some training at those locations and when they have completed that training and when the active duty commanders have validated them as ready and prepared to go, then they will deploy to Europe those who are scheduled to deploy to Europe. Of that category, there would be then a smaller category who would be further destined to deploy actually into Bosnia. And that category would then receive the cold weather and the mine detection training in Germany.

Q: For most will actually go to Europe at least if not to Bosnia also, is that right?

A: Yes.

Q: I was going to ask what he just asked. Will most Reservists called up be backfilling or will most of them end up in Bosnia?

A: Well -- a rough order of magnitude -- about a quarter of the Reserves population would be into Bosnia proper with about three-quarters backfill. Now, part of that backfill will be in the United States and part of that will be in Europe. That's just a very rough --

Q: Do you know how many will be here and how many will be in Europe?

A: I don't have those figures.

Q: Do you have a list of the units being called up this week?

A: Yes, we have that right here.

Q: I just have a quick question on these Reservists that are in Europe. Are they primarily retired members of the military who were stationed in Germany for example and just stayed on and got jobs, civilian jobs?

A: Well, they're not primarily retired. They have had -- a lot of them prior active duty experience. But typically, these are folks who are either their full-time might be civilian as a civil service employee for example, of the U.S. forces in Germany. Or you may have people who work for German companies. But what these are; these are all drilling members of our selected Reserves. So, they're American troops who perform at a minimum the 39 days a year of training which all Reservists and National Guardsmen perform. And we have had troops in Germany, Reserve troops stationed in Germany for years now.

Q: Have they been mobilized before to DESERT STORM?

A: They -- I'm not certain specifically. I would imagine that some were mobilized for DESERT STORM certainly.

Q: Did you say the people who are backfilling the actives, public affairs, the medical, the finance, logistics, those, they're the ones who are backfilling.

A: And again, there may be some public affairs that actually go into Bosnia as well.

Unknown Speaker: Thank you.