|By Donna Miles, American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Reserve-component leaders made the case for
legislative changes that would give Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta
more flexibility in using Guard and Reserve members to support theater
security cooperation and other military missions around the world.
Testifying before the House Armed Services Committee’s military
personnel subcommittee, the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps and
Coast Guard leaders cited the reserve components’ vast experience
supporting a broad array of contingency missions.
Particularly in light of looming budgetary constraints, they said,
it’s foolhardy not to enable the Department of Defense (DoD) to take
full advantage of these capabilities.
DoD has asked for authority to mobilize up to 60,000
reserve-component members involuntarily for 365 days to support
unnamed operations other than war.
Under current law, guardsmen and reservists must use annual training
days for these missions.
This, officials said, limits not only what operations they are able
to support, but also how effective the engagement can be.
Air Force Gen. Craig R. McKinley, the National Guard Bureau chief,
said changing current call-up authorities will provide DoD “assured
access” to reserve-component forces.
“This proposal would ensure the secretary of defense can support
combatant commanders’ needs for missions other than war,” he told
State adjutants general are staunch supporters of the plan, Army
Maj. Gen. Raymond W. Carpenter, chief of the Army National Guard,
told the panel.
“It will allow for the continued critical contributions of our
Soldiers and units and the effective use of soft power that is
theater security and cooperation in the hope of reducing the
possibility of a mobilized military response in the future,” he
The proposal “signifies a fundamental shift in the use of the
Reserves,” noted Vice Adm. Dirk J. Debbink, chief of the Naval
It recognizes, he said, the “high level of expertise resident in our
Guard and Reserve forces,” as well as reserve-component members’
desire to “continue performing real and meaningful work within the
... total force,” he said.
Lt. Gen. Jack C. Stultz, the Army Reserve chief, said the measure
also will help retain members not content to sit on the sidelines.
Reservists say they want three things: predictability so they can
balance their civilian and military responsibilities, meaningful
training, and relevant missions, Stultz told the panel.
“Use me. Don’t put me back on the shelf,” he said his Soldiers tell
“And that’s why this access issue is such a key issue. ... We’ve got
to continue to use them in a meaningful way, or otherwise we’ll lose
them and we can’t afford to lose that national treasure.”
In light of the reserve components’ increasing role in global
operations — a role likely to expand if Congress makes the
legislative changes requested — Air Force Reserve Chief Lt. Gen.
Charles E. Stenner Jr. said it’s critical that these forces have
sufficient manpower and resources to stay mission-ready.
“In a time of constrained budgets and higher costs, in-depth
analysis is required to effectively prioritize our needs,” he said.
“We must all appreciate the vital role that reserve components
play in supporting our nation’s defense and concentrate our resources in
areas that will give us the most return on our investment.”