Reserves To Deploy For 'Another Generation'

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Mideast Stars and Stripes
March 20, 2008 By Lisa Burgess, Stars and Stripes
ARLINGTON, Va. — With political and practical limits on the growth of the active Army, the Guard and Reserve soldiers are destined for regular deployments “for another generation,” Gen. Charles Campbell, commander of U.S. Army Forces Command, said Wednesday.
“It’s a fact that the standing Army is not sufficiently large,” Campbell, the Army’s point man for training and supplying forces in response to requests from commanders in the field, told reporters during a Washington press breakfast.
The Army is growing from 520,000 active-duty soldiers today to about 547,000 by 2010.
But with no end in sight to the missions in Afghanistan and Iraq, “the demand for land force capability [still] exceeds the sustainable supply,” Campbell said.
To meet demand without turning to the Reserves, the active Army would need 800,000 soldiers, he said.
“But there may not be the political will to grow an active component to that size,” Campbell said, not to mention the difficulties of recruiting such a large Army and the cost of sustaining it.
Congress could bring back the draft, he said, but “I don’t think that’s an option.”
That leaves Army leaders with no choice but to use the Reserves not as they were designed — as a strategic back-up, to be tapped for overseas missions only in times of gravest emergency — but as an “operational” force, he said.
“That reality has been true for the past seven years, and it’s likely to be true for another generation,” Campbell said.
It’s high time the nation realized that the Reserves have a new role, Lt. Gen. Jack Stultz, chief of the Army Reserve, told Stars and Stripes during a recent interview at the Pentagon.
“Our Army was a Cold War Army,” Stultz said.
“Now we, as a nation, have to change the way we think,” he said.
In fact, the regular mobilizations of reservists should not end when America withdraws from Iraq and Afghanistan, Stultz said.
He and other Army leaders are drawing up plans that call for Army Reserve soldiers to spend four years at home, “then, every five years, you’ll be called on to mobilize and use your skill set,” Stultz said. “It might not be for a year — it might be six months, or three. But you’ll go overseas and do something somewhere.”
Those deployments, Stultz said, “are what our soldiers want. They are the norm for them. They’re one of the reasons our re-enlistment rates are good.”