Trying to define ‘operational reserve’ can be elusive. 

The phrases “operational reserve” and “strategic reserve” are used frequently in Army discussions of how the Army Reserve and the Army National Guard should now be viewed.

To Lt. Gen. Ron Helmly, USA, Ret., and former chief of the Army Reserve, an operational reserve is one “that engages in daily active operations with or in lieu of an active unit” over a host of activities “without the specter of war.”  Speaking Oct. 22 at the Association of the United States Army’s Annual Meeting and Exposition, he added, “we all grow from it” by “actively applying in your skills to a mission.”

His counterpart, Lt. Gen. Roger Schultz, USA, Ret., and former director of the Army National Guard, summed it up as being “ready when required.”

The two worked together on a panel not only in their former offices but on a special panel looking at the Army reserve components future.

But Lt. Gen. Joe Inge, USA, Ret., and former deputy commanding general of Northern Command, warned that those definitions are not the same as were being used at the Command and General Staff College at Fort Leavenworth, Kan., in defining the reserves.  “’Operational reserve’ and ‘strategic reserve’ are words.”