The Army Reserve has evolved internally over the past year while in the midst of becoming more aligned with the regular Army as an operational force, and Lt. Gen. Jack C. Stultz is keeping an eye on the future as well to determine what role the Army Reserve will take when deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan decline.
Speaking Oct. 26 at the Association of the United States Army’s Annual Meeting and Exposition, the reserve chief spoke to reservists on what he is doing to shape the future force.
Since he spoke at the Annual Meeting last year, the structure of the Army Reserve has changed to a four-tier enterprise system – human capital, material, readiness and support services – modeled after the active Army.
The reserve has also become more relied upon by the Army to be part of the force structure.
However, with the bulk of U.S. forces targeted to be withdrawn from Iraq by the end of next year and drawdown in Afghanistan expected to start next year, Stultz is looking for ways the Army Reserve can continue to support U.S. operations.
What he doesn’t want is a return to a strategic reserve with soldiers serving one weekend a month and two weeks a year. When the Army Reserve began to take more of an operational role with the regular Army, reservists left because that wasn’t what they signed up for.
However, they were replaced by people who liked the appeal of that operational force aspect, and those are the soldiers who make up the Army Reserve today.
For examples of what the Army Reserve can do in the future, Stultz cited missions reservists have already completed. Over the summer, reservists supported the USNS Mercy with 50-member teams who were with the hospital ship for up to four weeks at a time. When in port, the reservists went inland and set up medical clinics.
In Vietnam, they treated 12,000 people, and that was followed by a stop in Cambodia where 29,000 more people were treated.
The Mercy docked in Singapore July 4 where the reserve team was replaced, and the new team was with the ship as it sailed through Indonesia then to Australia.
"What if that was 60 to 90 days instead of three to four weeks?" he said. And, to Navy officials, he asked them, "What if I can give you twice as many people?" To which, they were firmly on board.
In Kenya, Army Reserve civil affairs units were called upon to help rebuild that country after civil war following elections in 2007. In Uganda, reservists helped train that country’s defense force.
In Afghanistan, an all-female reservist team of drill sergeants and a company commander trained the first class of female officers in the Afghan army.
He said the reserve can also be part of the generating force as well as conduct "phase zero" operations – maintaining relations and building stability where hostility doesn’t exist.
"If you want to have an operational reserve, you have to use it," he said.
With the Base Realignment and Closure decision to move reserve headquarters from Fort McPherson, Ga., to Fort Bragg, N.C., Stultz is optimistic that a common problem with relocations and restructuring will actually turn around and be a benefit.
Calling on his experience in the civilian world as an executive with Proctor and Gamble, he said when that company restructured, "people got in the way – we couldn’t get rid of people because we cared about them."
With the move to Fort Bragg, he thinks the people problem will take care of itself. It will be fine for people who want to make the move, but for people who aren’t moving, the command can take a closer look at those positions and determine if responsibilities can be integrated with one or more existing positions.
"It’s a window of opportunity to reorganize our headquarters," he said.
Stultz noted that the Army Reserve doesn’t have any issues, but the force is still out of balance. Some units are over strength, while some are at 60 to 70 percent, but that’s to be expected as the role of the reserve has changed.
The Army Reserve has also been a model to other countries as Stultz has met with military leaders from Japan, Korea, Kenya and Uganda to discuss how to stand up reserve components and integrate them in the force.