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Equipping the Reserve Component For Mission Success at Home and Abroad

June 15, 2011

Over the past decade the Army National Guard and the Army Reserve have fought side by side with the Army’s active component (AC) in support of overseas contingency operations. Operations Enduring Freedom (OEF), Iraqi Freedom (OIF) and New Dawn have required significant numbers of Soldiers and equipment to combat evolving threats. To meet operational demands, the Army has deployed reserve component (RC) Soldiers and equipment at its highest levels since World War II. These operations of the past decade triggered a paradigm shift that transitioned the RC from a strategic reserve to an operational reserve. For the first time, RC units were manned, equipped, trained and deployed in a deliberately planned and programmed manner alongside their AC counterparts.

Despite the cooperation on the battlefield, changing conditions and preexisting equipment shortages compelled the Army to order redeploying units to leave equipment in theater for distribution to follow-on units. The pace of operations and inadequate automation systems resulted in poor accounting practices. Equipment left behind by RC units was routinely not documented in accordance with Department of Defense Directive 1225.6, “Equipping the Reserve Forces.” As a result, more than 85,000 pieces of RC equipment, valued at approximately $5.9 billion, was not appropriately documented, creating shortages in motor pools and storerooms. This practice introduced unforeseen risks in the RC’s ability to respond to Defense Support of Civil Authorities (DSCA) requirements. The RC required equipment on which to train to ensure units were prepared for DSCA operational deployments. Hurricane Katrina illustrated that the volume of equipment transfers from the RC had an impact on the ability of the National Guard to respond to DSCA events. It was also apparent that the automation systems in place at the onset of OEF and OIF were unable to maintain total asset visibility. These systems were ill-suited for tracing funding and equipment from programming to appropriation to procurement and the final delivery of equipment to units. With these issues in mind, the Army (active and reserve components) set out to develop transparent and traceable equipping processes. The results are dramatic: More than 60,000 items of RC equipment have either been returned to units or ordered, and aggregate equipment-on-hand levels are proportional across all components, with projections to be more than 90 percent by the end of Fiscal Year (FY) 2012.