The Army’s Unsung Heroes: Full-Time Support to the Army National Guard and Army Reserve
Since the Persian Gulf War, the use of the Army’s reserve components (RC) for “real world” operational missions has grown dramatically. Since 1989, there have been an unprecedented seven Presidential Selected Reserve Call-Ups. These included Operation Just Cause, Operations Desert Shield/Storm and Haiti. Today there are three Presidential Selected Reserve Call-ups running concurrently—Bosnia, Kosovo and Southwest Asia. Called upon to support the explosion of overseas commitments ranging from Somalia to Kosovo, the Army National Guard (ARNG) and Army Reserve (USAR) play a vital and expanding role in our nation’s National Security Strategy. Besides the traditional role of the reserve components as forces earmarked for major conflicts, Guard and Reserve forces are increasingly found all over the world supporting the national strategy of “engagement and enlargement.” In addition, the Guard and Reserve are being asked to take on new roles such as weapons of mass destruction (WMD) support and national missile defense.
Army Reserve soldiers continue to provide vital support to both Balkans missions as well as real-world deployments to such far-flung regions as sub-Saharan Africa, Central America and Southeast Asia. The key role of the Army Reserve in Army operations cannot be overstated because certain critical high-demand/low-density specialties such as Civil Affairs and Psychological Operations are found almost exclusively in the Army Reserve. Without them, the effectiveness of the Army’s deployed forces would be severely diminished.
The recent deployment of the Texas Guard’s 49th Armored Division to Bosnia is a prime example of the expanded role of the reserve components in today’s Army. Future deployments, such as the Virginia Guard’s 29th Light Infantry Division’s assumption of the Bosnia command, will include even more RC personnel.