With almost 43,000 Army National Guard and Reserve soldiers mobilized in support of Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation New Dawn, and an additional 15,800 mobilized for other Army requirements, the U.S. Army Forces Command “simply does not work without the reserve component,” said Gen. James D. Thurman, commanding general of FORSCOM. The issue, added Thomas Lamont, assistant secretary of the Army for manpower and reserve affairs, is how to best use the RC in an era of persistent conflict. Thurman and Lamont made their remarks Oct. 26 during a panel discussion at the Association of the United States Army’s 2010 Meeting and Exposition.
Others who participated on the panel were Lt. Gen. Jack C. Stultz, chief of the Army Reserve and commanding general, U.S. Army Reserve; Lt. Gen. Thomas Miller, commanding general, First Army; Maj. Gen. Raymond Carpenter, acting director of the Army National Guard; and Brig. Gen. Tim Orr, adjutant general for the Iowa National Guard.
Lamont also said the Army needs recurrent, assured and predictable access to the reserve component, and Thurman agreed. “The Army needs a reserve component that is accessible; available; properly organized, manned and equipped; and trained to one standard,” Thurman said. “Without access, we won’t achieve the rotational goals of 2/1.” Thurman said logistics, intelligence and aviation units are especially in demand.
Miller said the full extent of the RC’s contribution has not been realized. He also said the biggest challenge is not in training but rather, the manning and sourcing process. “It doesn’t matter where you’re from; you’re going to go to the location where the mission is,” Miller said.
Lamont noted that today’s reserve component is five times the size it was before the 9/11 terrorist attacks, and has seven times the workload. He said that while previous decades saw concerns about attrition, today’s concerns focus on whether the RC is being worked too hard. “The reality is, we’ve burnt them up,” Miller added.
Carpenter noted that the retention rate in the reserve component is 105.5 percent, and Orr concurred. “Folks are beating on the door to get in,” Orr said. He also noted that Iowa is preparing to deploy 3,500 reserve component soldiers, and the mobilization “will touch every community in the state.” Iowa recently held a flood summit with several neighboring states so that they could discuss cooperation regarding stateside emergencies that might occur when large numbers of the RC are deployed overseas.