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Darden speaks at Army Reserve’s 110th birthday celebration

Monday, July 16, 2018

Capable. Combat-ready. Lethal.

Not just a motto, those attributes are crucial components of the Army Reserve’s mission to protect the United States against hostile threats and defend the homeland.

The community celebrated the contribution of the Army Reserve at the 110th Birthday of the Army Reserve Breakfast Celebration, hosted by the Redstone-Huntsville Chapter of the Association of the U.S. Army.

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Retired Maj. Gen. James Darden speaks at the 110th birthday of the Army Reserve celebration hosted by AUSA’s Redstone-Huntsville Chapter. (Photo by Bryan Bacon)

Retired Maj. Gen. James Darden, Army Reserve ambassador for Alabama, served as keynote speaker.

Darden spent 38 years in the Army Reserve, retiring as director of mobilization and reserve affairs deputy J5 of the European Command.

As ambassador, he reports directly to the chief of the Army Reserve.

The ambassadors serve as the chief’s “eyes and ears,” Darden said, while performing a primary mission as educators telling the Army’s story.

He spoke about the current challenges to national security that he said would keep him awake at night if he were the chief of the Army Reserve.

The first challenge was personnel, with the Reserve not expected to meet their recruiting goals in 2018.

“We are a microcosm of the regular Army and this is a problem with the Army, as well,” he said.

After fighting wars for 16 years, Darden said, the Reserve soldiers were aging, “banged up” from multiple deployments and not at peak physical shape.

“If you are in a uniform, you have to be deployable. If you aren’t deployable, you aren’t relevant,” he said.

Darden said other concerns were mobilization, equipment and the essential need to stay ahead of the enemy when it comes to technology.

He also said other countries have the same equipment, just one generation older.

“We are 10 years behind with our equipment modernization and being able to fight in today’s war,” Darden said.

Although the Reserve and the Army itself face significant and complex challenges, Darden remained steadfast they will meet those challenges.

“We will fight and we will win the next war … because it’s a fighting spirit we have, we know what’s at risk and we do not want to risk everything that has been fought for before.”

(Editor’s note: This story is re-printed with permission from the Redstone Rocket.)