The next phase for the Reserve is to stand up engagement cells to help make sure the component is involved in planning for contingencies and training. (Spc. Thomas Crough / Army)
Reserve Looks To Catch Active Soldiers On The Rebound
The Army is cutting 80,000 soldiers from its ranks, and the Army Reserve hopes to catch some of them.
“We’re going to have a lot of active-component soldiers that will leave active duty, and these are combat vets. These men and women are incredibly professional, incredibly sharp and talented,” said Lt. Gen. Jeffrey Talley, chief of the Reserve and commanding general of Army Reserve Command. “This is a great opportunity for us to capture those soldiers to help fill our formations.”
The Reserve is “critically short” of midcareer noncommissioned officers and officers, Talley said. It is over-strength in the E-1 to E-4 ranks and the senior enlisted and officer ranks.
“I have a force in the Army Reserve that’s out of balance,” he said.
The Reserve has 63 percent of its authorized sergeants first class, 80 percent of its staff sergeants and 88 percent of its sergeants. On the officer side, it has 57 percent of its authorized majors and 79 percent of captains.
Soldiers transitioning from the active Army who decide to join the Reserve will receive military occupational specialty training. Priority MOS positions offered by the Reserve include psychological operations specialist, horizontal construction engineer, civil affairs specialist, corrections specialist and bridge crew member.
“As [the Army] comes down in size, we’re going to take the most professional, highest-quality Army in the history of the United States, and it’s only going to get better,” Talley said.
— MICHELLE TAN
The Army Reserve is rethinking the way it plans, prepares and trains its soldiers in an era of shrinking budgets and transition after 12 years of war.
“To keep us part of the operational force, we have to use the Army Reserve in all five years of the Army Force Generation cycle,” said Lt. Gen. Jeffrey Talley, chief of the Reserve and commanding general of Army Reserve Command.
It’s “not enough” to use Reserve forces just once every five years, during the “available” year of the ARFORGEN cycle, he said.
This month, at the Association of the U.S. Army annual meeting in Washington, D.C., Talley will roll out the “Plan, Prepare, Provide” initiative aimed at keeping his soldiers trained, ready and relevant as the war in Afghanistan winds down and the Army aligns its forces with the various geographic combatant commands around the world. Here’s how it works:
The Reserve is standing up Army Reserve engagement cells around the world to make sure the component is involved in planning for exercises, training and contingen-cies, Talley said.
“We’ve got to have the Army Reserve involved in planning the need for Army Reserve assets,” he said.
Each AREC, led by a one-star general, will have about a dozen soldiers with expertise in areas such as engineering, civil affairs, medical and logistics. The AREC will provide direct staff planning support to the Army service component commands and combatant commands, and the cell will have reach-back to Army Reserve Command.
“Just like the ASCC is the one-stop shop for the combatant commands around the world, the AREC is the one-stop shop for anything Army Reserve for the combatant commands and ASCCs,” Talley said.
The ARECs also will be the cornerstone of the Reserve’s contribution to the Army’s regionally aligned forces effort, Talley said.
“Even though they’re small teams, we’ll align behind those teams Army Reserve units,” he said.
The first ARECs to be stood up will be at Pacific Command, Central Command and Africa Command, Talley said. Teams will later be formed at European Command, Northern Command and Southern Command, he said.
Soldiers in the Reserve can expect to participate in large combat training center-like exercises that are focused exclusively on enablers, Talley said.
Warrior exercises will focus on small units, while combat support training exercises will train larger units.
“These are great dirt field exercises,” Talley said. “Soldiers, leaders, staff and the unit get trained and ready for combat and contingency missions.”
The goal is to conduct these events during the second half of a unit’s “train/ready” phase in the ARFORGEN cycle so they’re ready to go during the following “available” year.
The Reserve also is seeking training opportunities in the private sector.
The Private-Public Partnership Initiative involves the more than 400 companies that are already part of the Reserve’s employer partnership program, which helps connect companies with Reserve soldiers who are looking for a job.
Under P3i, the Reserve will provide manpower to companies seeking to do projects overseas.
The first project will be with Coca-Cola Co. The Reserve will provide the soldiers, manpower and skills to complete a number of water projects in Africa that Coca-Cola is funding in coordination with the State Department and Africa Command.
“It’s a very, very exciting effort,” Talley said. “The beauty of it is you’re going to get great training. Let’s say you’re in Africa for 21 days building a water project. That’s something you can feel excited about. Your unit made a difference, and it helps the Department of State and COCOM meet their objectives.”
If Army Reserve soldiers are engaged throughout the ARFORGEN cycle, they will be ready to deploy if needed when they reach the “available” year.
The Reserve always maintains about 25,000 soldiers who are fully trained and ready for immediate use, and the component is home to specialties and skills often unavailable in the active component.
When units reach the “available” year, they will either be used to meet a “forecasted” need by an ASCC or COCOM, or they can be called upon to an unforeseen need, Talley said.
Talley said he expects the demand for Reserve forces likely will stay “pretty steady” in the coming year. More than 12,000 Reserve soldiers are deployed worldwide, according to information from the Reserve. More than 8,000 of them are in the Central Command area of responsibility.
The coming months will be challenging, Talley said, but he also is optimistic.
“It’s a great time to be in the Army Reserve. We get to be soldiers, and I get to do anything I choose to do in the private sector,” he said. “This is a time of opportunity. Yes, there are a lot of challenges, but for us it’s proven to be a great opportunity for us to be more relevant than ever to the nation and to the total force.”