Reserve Chief Warns of "Broken" Army Reserve Force

This is MOAA's legislative update for Friday, January 7, 2005.

Issue 1: Reserve Chief Warns of "Broken" Army Reserve Force. In a recent memo to the Army's leadership, Lieutenant General James Helmly, USA, the head of the Army Reserve, starkly outlines his concerns for the service's troop readiness.
Issue 1: Reserve Chief Warns of "Broken" Army Reserve Force

In a blunt memo to the Army's leadership, Lieutenant General James Helmly, USA, the commander of 200,000 Army Reserve troops, has warned that the Army Reserve (USAR) is "rapidly degenerating into a 'broken' force." The Dec. 20 document from Helmly to Army Chief of Staff General Peter Schoomaker states that "current demands" on the USAR and "dysfunctional" mobilization and personnel management policies have degraded mission readiness.

"The purpose of this memorandum is to inform you of the Army Reserve's inability - under current policies, procedures, and practices governing mobilization, training and reserve component manpower management - to meet mission requirements associated with Operation[s] Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom and to reset and regenerate its forces for follow-on and future missions," he said.
Helmly's concerns include:

* Mobilization policy and procedures. Helmly believes the Army is too reliant on individual volunteers rather than unit call-ups.

* Deployment policies. Tour lengths vary widely depending on the deployment location; "last minute extensions" are causing harm to soldiers, families, and employers.

* Non-participating soldiers. Reserve soldiers who have not met their military training obligations should be called up or discharged.

* Reconstitution Policies. Reserve equipment is often left behind in the combat theatre for the next rotation leaving units with nothing to train on in home station. Post-mobilization policies bar performing two weeks annual training within six months after returning.

* Force depletion. Only about 37,000 out of 200,000 USAR soldiers are currently available for mobilization and deployment, because the others were already mobilized, not yet fully trained, etc.

MOAA applauds General Helmly's candor in raising real-world policy and readiness issues that more senior Defense leaders so far have been reluctant to address.

We remain convinced that a long-term fix demands significantly larger active duty forces, so the country doesn't have to keep placing such extreme demands on our Guard and Reserve forces or their families.

Related item:   Army Green Book article by General Helmly, Profound Change While Fighting the War
Related item:   Expending the Force, an Army Magazine Article of November, 2002
by Gen. Frederick J. Kroesen, USA Ret
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