Reserve forces will continue to get the call

Friday, April 01, 2011

Dennis McCarthy, assistant secretary of defense for reserve affairs, said Jan. 31 that many who used to see the reserve components as a strategic force that is used "once in a lifetime," now understand that it will never be that way again.

Speaking at the first-ever Reserve Officers Association (ROA) National Security Symposium, McCarthy emphasized that these ideas have changed significantly. Along with declining budgets, it’s the reserves that will likely get the call in the future.

"We’re going to continue to need a force that can deploy worldwide for a variety of missions – a full spectrum of missions – perhaps not the least of which will be missions that are designed to prevent war, not to wage it or to engage in it," he said.

He also noted that the active component continues to live under short dwell-to-deploy timeframes, and, often times, even dwell time is punctuated with other duties and assignments that impact the long-term dwell times for the force.

He suggested the reserve components as an answer to this dilemma.

But it all must be done with declining dollars.

"Secretary [of Defense Robert] Gates has already announced a number of ways to change the way the department spends money," McCarthy said. "[And] we understand that most of the deployments of the reserve components over the last nine or 10 years have come from supplemental funding, outside of the regular budget."

As demand in Iraq and Afghanistan decreases, so must the funding, he said.

"The reserve components [are] positioned, I’d suggest to you, to play an important role in putting forth a full spectrum force around the world in an efficient and cost effective way."

McCarthy also commented on the symposium itself, suggesting such forums were crucial for a better understanding and interest in the reserve component.

(Editor’s note: This story is from the Reserve Officers Association.)