Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Reserve and Guard Leadership Testify

Elizabeth M. Cochran
Legislative Assistant

ROA attended the April 15th House Armed Services Military Personnel Subcommittee hearing on the Reserve Components. Assistant Secretary for Reserve Affairs Dennis McCarthy along with the Reserve chiefs and National Guard directors testified.

Chairwoman Susan Davis (D, Calif.) highlighted issues with Reserve retirement and continuum of service (COS), need for an integrated pay and personnel system as well as other areas.

Secretary McCarthy said that the Department of Defense (DOD) is well aware of the issue with Reserve retirement in which individuals lose credit when a changeover to a new fiscal year takes place, and DOD will request legislation to fix the error. In addition, Ranking Member Joe Wilson (R, S.C.) asked about service members in Wounded Warrior Units who don’t receive credit for retirement. The Secretary stated that will be fixed by a DOD directive.

Secretary McCarthy also mentioned that DOD will seek legislative changes in the future to eliminate some duty statuses.

The Army Reserve chief and Army National Guard director, LTG Stultz and MG Carpenter, said a new category of military technician (MT), non-dual status technician, needs to be added. According to LTG Stultz, Active Guard Reserves (AGR) and MTs are essential to have successful transition and sustainment of the operational reserve, contributing to continuum of service (COS).

Recruiting was exceeded by all services combined and retention was mostly successful, but there are still shortages in the mid-grade officers. The Air National Guard is short 1,500 in critically manned mission areas: health care professionals, engineering, intelligence, Chaplains, and mobility aviators. The best way to address existing and future shortages is through COS.

The Army Reserve will work with the Army on potential changes to statutes and policies for COS. The Navy Reserve has a Career Transition Office to counsel service members leaving the service on opportunities available in the reserve, and is working to identifying barriers in law to COS. The Army National Guard recently initiated Job Connection Education, partnered with Army Reserve in an Employment Partnership Office, and began the Guard Apprenticeship Program Initiative. Many other initiatives and programs also assist in transitioning members from active component to reserve component or military service to civilian employment.

Professional Military Education (PME) has made great strides in distance education which is more accessible to the RCs than traditional education. Though RC members returning from deployment need to time to acclimate to their civilian jobs before resuming PME. Fellowships and other margins of PME are not available across the services.

Since DIMHRS was cancelled recently each of the services is allowed to pursue a service-specific system. VADM Debbink, Chief of Navy Reserve, advocated for a community based database. Yet LTG Kelly, Chief of Marine Forces Reserve, cautioned against any ‘cookie cutter’ approach. MG Carpenter said the Guard needs recognition of its various statuses and LTG Stenner said the Air Force Reserve has a system that maps out transition of AC to RC with some interim fixes.

There are 53 remaining Commission on the National Guard and Reserves (CNGR) recommendations to be completed. Secretary McCarthy stated he doesn’t believe the department moved as fast as it could, but nonetheless has made substantial progress. Recommendations number 42 and 43 concerning transparency and accountability of equipment have had some progress, but are still being implemented. The Yellow Ribbon Reintegration Program continues to make progress. The Governors Council has been fully implemented and held its first meeting with the Secretaries of Defense and Homeland Security. Other initiatives are in process, some of which are complicated. Additionally, at a prior event it was announced that the CNGR Chairman will bring the commission group together sometime this spring to discuss the status of implementation and create a report card.

Other areas addressed included equipment recapitalization, readiness, TRS, family support, Yellow Ribbon Reintegration Program, employer support, and NGREA.

1 comment:

MAJ O said...

I agree with reserveblogger's post that the Reserve component leadership is addressing these issues; however, I would like to add that part of the fix to the fulltime manning authorizations needs to be addressed as part of a strategic fix to the midgrade officer shortfall faced by the US Army as a whole. NGB and the USAR have a federal authorization voucher for fulltime manning that is much greater than what every state or reserve unit is currently authorized to fill in either the federal technician positions or the Active Guard and Reserve (AGR) positions. Historically, units are authorized to fill 57% of this authorization. So, in rudimentary terms for every 100 authorized fulltime Soldiers units can only fill 57 slots. I am an AGR O-4 and am very fortunate to have the opportunity to continue to serve while living in the state in which I grew up and am proud to talk up the program to anyone interested. As I attend schools and talk with my other Active Duty colleagues (non AGR types on Regular Army Active Duty). I am not surprised, given the increased optempo and multiple deployments and increased optempo over the last 9 years, that a large number of them ask how they can enter the AGR program. Not to imply that life as an AGR is replete from the same optempo or challenges, because Guard and Reserve units are faced with the same issues and similar optempo as our AD conterparts. I make the suggestion that if the Army is faced with a threat of officers leaving the service the arguement could be made that an increase in AGR authorizations would lure many qualified and experienced combat veterans to continue active duty or technician service in their home state. The largest interest from those that ask is the opportunity to live near family or settle down in a place they want to live for a longer period of time than a traditional PCS schedule on Active Duty. I am a student in the Army's Command and General Staff College satellite program at Fort Gordon. The views expressed are my personal views only and are not representative or endorsed by the US Army. MAJ Neil Oscarson