News>Leaders call operational Reserve 'a new DOD efficiency'
Lt. Gen. Charles E. Stenner Jr. addresses the crowd at the Reserve Officer Association's National Security Symposium in Washington, D.C., Feb. 1, 2011. General Stenner, chief of the Air Force Reserve and commander of Air Force Reserve Command, discussed initiatives to streamline business practices for daily operations as well as strategic surges. (U.S. Air Force photo/Col. Bob Thompson)
Retired Air Force Maj. Gen. Homer I. Lewis philosophizes with Col. Scott S. Russell, the Reserve Officer Association's National Air Force vice president Jan. 31, 2011, during the ROA National Security Symposium in Washington, D.C. General Lewis, 90, and a World War II veteran, served as the chief of the Air Force Reserve from 1971 to 1975 and is a past president of the ROA. (U.S. Air Force photo/Col. Bob Thompson)
Capt. Holly Fredericks greets a potential recruit for the Air Force Reserve Jan. 31, 2011, during the Reserve Component Expo in Washington, D.C. Captain Fredericks is the officer in charge of recruiting systems certification for Headquarters Air Force Reserve Command at Robins Air Force Base, Ga. (U.S. Air Force photo/Col. Bob Thompson)
by Col. Robert K. Thompson
Air Force Reserve Public Affairs
2/3/2011 - WASHINGTON (AFNS) -- The new role and future direction of the Department of Defense's reserve components was the focus of the Reserve Officer Association gathering attended by more than 600 people at the Marriott Wardman Park Hotel here Jan. 29 through Feb. 2.
Senior DOD leaders here discussed how the Reserve programs have evolved to the point that they are critical to daily operations and are seen as efficient and cost-effective manning solutions during tight financial times.
"Ideas about the reserve components have changed," said Dennis M. McCarthy, assistant secretary of defense for reserve affairs during his address to the crowd. "No longer is the 'strategic reserve' used only once in a lifetime."
Since 9/11 and nearly 10 years of combat, reservists have played an ever-increasing role in ongoing military operations around the globe. This increased reliance on reservists is called the "operational reserve" while the traditional role of the "strategic reserve" can still be seen during surges such as those in Iraq in 2007 and Afghanistan in 2010.
"There is a change underway. There is a need to rebalance the force and the important roles that all three components play," said Lt. Gen. Charles E. Stenner Jr., chief of the Air Force Reserve at the Pentagon, and the commander of Air Force Reserve Command headquartered at Robins Air Force Base, Ga. "This is being discussed at the absolute highest levels today."
In the next five years, Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates has tasked Armed Services officials to find more than $100 billion in overhead savings. The Air Force's share is $34 billion.
"The reserve components are the cost-effective part of our nation's military," said U.S. Rep. Tom Latham of Iowa during his acceptance of the "Minute Man of the Year" award at the symposium. "The process of shifting to an 'operational reserve' must continue as the current conflicts wind down."
Officials from all three of the Air Force's total force components -- regular Air Force, Air National Guard and Air Force Reserve Command -- are seeking ideas to generate savings that can be invested in force structure, modernization and readiness.
"The contributions of the Guard and Reserve are never lost on us," said Daniel B. Ginsberg, assistant secretary of the Air Force for manpower and reserve affairs. "We have the responsibility to get the most bang for the buck, to be as efficient as possible. The (air reserve component's) can do it for less."
The Quadrennial Defense Review provides senior leaders guidance for strategy and future force structures. The most recent 2010 QDR report called for an in-depth review of all the military services' reserve components and for detailed research into what the new balance of forces should be.
After eight months and input from all DOD offices, Mr. McCarthy's team delivered this review to the secretary of defense on Jan. 31.
"This report met its goal of being very comprehensive," Mr. McCarthy said. "I'm very proud of the end product."
He stated that he looks forward to Secretary Gates' reaction to the report's recommendations and the public release of the findings.
"We're going to have to make adjustments to the (DOD) base budget," said Mr. Ginsberg. "As (overseas contingency operations change), we must support the expanded role of the Guard and Reserve."
Air Force reservists are active in every Air Force specialty and continue to be on the leading-edge of new and emerging missions. And as the federal government looks for ways to save money, General Stenner said his team is working hard to ensure that the Air Force Reserve continues to become ever more efficient and cost-effective, delivering what the combatant commanders and nation require.
"Our Air Force Reserve provides a 'tier-one' capability, ready to go within 72 hours," he said. "We're the only service that maintains this level of readiness in all three components. We're seamlessly ready to integrate and go anywhere in the world."
Several new and on-going initiatives already are solidifying the Air Force Reserve as first and foremost a strategic reserve that also provides an operational combat ready force or operational reserve.
"We're engaged in a series of actions to ensure we're a full partner at every single Air Staff function as well as at the squadron, wing and major command levels," General Stenner said. "By mid-2012, about 14 months from now, we plan for these changes to gain full operational capability."
These initiatives include the growth of the new Force Generation Center that began standing up in August 2010. This center is designed to be the "one-stop-shop" for combatant commanders to request Reserve help and the single doorway for Air Force reservists to enter active duty.
Growth continues in other mission areas as well. Air Force reservists are leading aircrew training for B-52 Stratofortress bombers with regular Airmen working alongside them as an "active associate" unit based at Barksdale Air Force Base, La. In another unit at Barksdale, the regular Air Force combat-coded B-52 mission is supported now by a "classic associate" Air Force Reserve Command team, a first for the Reserve, directly augmenting the nuclear mission.
Also, after growing two new intelligence squadrons in 2010, Air Force Reserve officials plan to add more and eventually expand into new groups and wings.
"There's never been a better time to be in the Reserve," General Stenner said. "Recruiting and retention is at a 16-year high. Benefits like the Post 9/11 G.I. Bill are the best since World War II. We have reservists in every mission specialty and every agency and our efficiency and cost-effectiveness are being recognized at a time when our nation needs us the most."
2/10/2011 10:59:58 AM ET Interesting article. However in the reserve programs we look for the budget detail behind the words as we look to the future. After the first Gulf War 1991 and subsequent reduction of the USSR there was a call by Congress for a Peace Dividend. The result was a cut in budgets implemented within the Pentagon by approximately equal percentage cuts among all services and among programs. The reserve programs were cut proportionally in this fair share allotment of budget cuts. Reserve budgets for units and headcount fell to new lows in the late-1990s. As we look forward we hope to avoid cuts across the board and to see reserve budgets support the new realization of the value of the reserve components.