Reserve soldiers: Balancing readiness, civilian responsibilities
Spanning 20 time zones and containing 200,000 soldiers, the Army Reserve provides 78 percent of the sustainment capabilities for the Total Army, but reserve soldiers must balance readiness with their civilian responsibilities, senior leaders said at a panel discussion at the Association of the U.S. Army Annual Meeting and Exposition.
“We recruit and we retain where our soldiers live and work,” said Lt. Gen. Charles Luckey, chief of the Army Reserve.
Adding, “That fundamental dynamic about how we sustain our force from the manning perspective is absolutely critical.”
Roughly a year ago, Army Reserve leaders began creating a new contingency deployment model, known as Ready Force X (RFX), Luckey said.
RFX contains approximately 600 units of action, divided into four categories based on percentage of unique Reserve capabilities and amount of pre-deployment preparation time required in a contingency situation.
“When we talk about having to fight fast, when I talk about combat readiness and lethality for America’s Army Reserve, I’m not kidding around,” Luckey said.
Adding, “Part of what we owe the Army is to go fast enough to be relevant.”
Gen. Robert Brown, commander of U.S. Army Pacific, said that he’s never seen a better Total Force than in today’s Army. “In the Indo-Asia-Pacific, we simply cannot do our mission without those critical Army Reserve assets,” he said.
Of the five major challenges facing the nation today, four are in the Pacific region – China, Russia, the Islamic State group and North Korea, Brown said, adding, “The key to our success is working as a total force.”
In addition to logistics and sustainment, reserve forces have unique value for other reasons, Brown said. For example, “I have 650 Reserve component soldiers that speak 42 languages in the Pacific. That expertise of knowing the region makes a huge difference.”
In the future, the Army must capitalize on the reserve component to provide needed operational capabilities and capacity, Brown said.
Adding, “The ability to strike, protect and maintain will require reserve efforts above and beyond anything we’ve seen before,” he said.
The U.S. is still the only military superpower in the world, said Lt. Gen. Aundre Piggee, deputy chief of staff, logistics. “That’s because of our ability to project combat power anywhere in the world – and that’s logistics. That’s the power that the Army Reserve brings to this nation.”
Unit readiness is essential to logistics, Piggee said. Equipment must arrive on time when required, “and that’s the capability we’re looking for from these Ready Force X formations. We have to be ready for those missions.”
The Army needs to get back to sustainment fundamentals, because the high level of contractor support over the past 16 years will not always be available, Piggee said, adding, “We’re going to have to sustain ourselves, and we need to start training now for that.”