News

DoD Deals New Hand to Reserve Forces

 


  By Jim Garamone

  
 American Forces Press Service

 


 WASHINGTON -- Changes to homeland defense, the stand-up of new 

 reserve teams to combat weapons of mass destruction and the 

 continuance of reserve component integration with the active 

 force are in the cards for reservists in the next year.

 

 Charles L. Cragin, acting assistant secretary of defense for 

 reserve affairs, said reservists continue to re-serve around the 

 world. 

 

 "I've been to Bosnia twice now," Cragin said during an 

 interview. "You can't tell the difference between active and 

 reserve [component service members]. They are all there doing 

 their jobs, proud of what they are doing and motivated. We see 

 this through their retention and re-enlistment figures when they 

 come home. There's no attrition in the units [that go to global 

 hot spots]. In fact, their retention and recruiting are through 

 the roof."

 

 He said a composite Army National Guard aviation company from 

 Florida, Alabama and North Carolina arrived in Kuwait recently. 

 They are there under a presidential selected reserve call-up for 

 270 days. Cragin said this is just another example of the 

 integration of the reserve components into the total force.

 

 "Where it makes sense to use reservists, we will," he said. "You 

 have to remember that if you call up a reserve unit, it costs 

 just as much as an active unit. The difference is you haven't 

 budgeted for it." Finding ways to use the reserves, therefore, 

 is as much a matter of budget as of need, he said.

 

 The reserve components have a completely new role in homeland 

 defense, Cragin said, and the definition of homeland defense 

 continues to evolve. "Homeland defense has been under discussion 

 for some time, because we don't really know what it constitutes 

 in this day of asymmetrical threats," he said.

 

 "We know for certain that it includes responding to weapons of 

 mass destruction," he continued. "We know that it includes 

 information operations and counterintelligence operations for 

 information warfare. It includes the air defense of the United 

 States. We don't know how much further it goes as it relates to 

 National Guard and Reserve involvement." 

 

 Defense Secretary William Cohen's initiatives in the area of 

 weapons of mass destruction have raised the whole homeland 

 defense issue. The congressionally chartered National Defense 

 Panel agreed with him when it recommended the reserve components 

 play a seminal role in homeland defense. 

 

 Both Cohen and Deputy Secretary John Hamre feel that the Guard 

 and Reserve are the logical components to be involved in 

 homeland defense, Cragin said, and the role of the reserves will 

 grow as the concept is defined. One outgrowth so far is a new 

 threat category for which the president can activate up to 

 200,000 reservists: providing assistance for an emergency 

 involving the use or threatened use of weapons of mass 

 destruction.

 

 The regional commanders in chief are discussing the reserve 

 component role in homeland defense. Among the aspects being 

 discussed are which of them should be the responsible commander 

 and how should any new organization be structured, Cragin said.

 

 The threat of weapons of mass destruction means defending 

 against any guy with a bottle or a suitcase full of biological 

 or chemical agents, he said. The threat is asymmetrical, and 

 many people don't understand the term -- among other things, it 

 means an enemy is going to hit you where you least expect it, he 

 said.

 

 "I think the secretary not only understands that, but he 

 appreciates that and has been concerned about it for some time" 

 Cragin remarked. "America is not ready to deal with these sorts 

 of asymmetrical threats be they weapons of mass destruction or 

 cyberterrorism, where we are equally fragile."

 

 Through fiscal 1999, National Guard Rapid Assessment and Initial 

 Detection teams composed of 22 members each will become 

 operational at 10 locations throughout the country. The teams 

 will work with local officials and provide them the expertise to 

 assess and identify chemical or biological substances so they 

 can tell what they are dealing with if an incident occurs.

 

 "This capability is something [DoD] must do for force 

 protection," Cragin said. "But we can also send [the teams] 

 throughout the United States working day-in-and-day-out with 

 local responder colleagues who are always going to be the first 

 on the scene.

 

 "I think once everybody understood what the teams' missions were 

 -- they are there to support the men and women who serve on a 

 daily basis -- they said, 'That's great! We can always use this 

 sort of resource.'" 

 

 Early detection and identification of a terrorist's chemical or 

 biological agent can be crucial. "In Tokyo, for example, and the 

 sarin gas attack, the Tokyo first-responders didn't have a clue 

 for the first three hours on what they were dealing with," 

 Cragin said. "So people exposed to sarin gas wandered into 

 hospitals, potentially contaminating them."

 

 Eliminating real and cultural barriers to the full integration 

 of the reserve components into the total force will continue to 

 be a priority for Cragin and DoD. He has asked the services to 

 assess their progress in integrating active and reserve forces. 

 Further, he asked each service to identify remaining barriers 

 and their plans for eliminating them. 

 

 One area of contention between the active and reserve forces 

 dealt with resources. "I think one of the things most telling 

 was the involvement of the reserve chiefs  when the services' 

 budgets were subjected to scrutiny and oversight by DoD in the 

 program review group and in the Defense Resources Board," Cragin 

 said. All the reserve chiefs attended and had an opportunity to 

 participate in the proceedings.

 

 "That's a historic first. Bringing in [reserve component] two-

 star leaders and putting them in the rooms with their three- and 

 four-star [active duty] seniors and giving them an equal voice 

 at the table worked," he said. "You can see it working in the 

 integration of Guard, Reserve and active budgeting. You can see 

 the services embed more of their reserve requirements in their 

 budgets rather than the good old days when they said, 'Let 

 Congress plus them up. We won't worry about them.'" 

 

 Cragin said DoD can't rest on its laurels as far as producing 

 the "seamless total force" Cohen has called for. "We've got a 

 long way to go. We still have some attitudes that have to be 

 changed, and we still have all the resource issues that must be 

 addressed," he said. "This is the force of the future. This is 

 the way we have to fight."

 

 

http://www.defenselink.mil/news/Oct1998/n10211998_9810212.html