Chief of the Navy Reserves (CNR), VADM Dirk Debbink, gave a lecture to Capitol Hill Reservists at ROA’s Minuteman Memorial Building headquarters June 9 detailing the Navy Reserves’ new Strategic Plan. VADM Debbink began by asking some elementary, though important, questions: “What is the Navy Reserves? What does it do? Why do taxpayers fund it?”
To these questions, VADM Debbink offered a number of responses. The fundamental explanation for the Reserves’ existence is its function as an armed forces group which provides “strategic depth” and can be deployed in emergency situations. However, the CNR also stressed the Reserves’ importance as a cost-effective alternative to the Navy that helps retain skill sets, test future capabilities, and conduct predictable operational work. VADM Debbink noted the Reserves also compliment the Active Duty in a “Continuum of Service” and lent time to the common sentiment that the Reserves help connect the armed forces to the general population. The CNR felt those basic questions could be answered – and the Reserves explained – by the slogan “Ready Now. Anytime, Anywhere.” As VADM Debbink phrased it, “it’s not our job to be everywhere, all the time. Just call us when you need us and the Navy Reserves will be there.”
During the Q & A period, VADM Debbink also detailed some of his priorities for the Navy Reserves. For instance, he wants to apply pressure to get a bigger allotment from the National Guard and Reserves Equipment Appropriation (NGREA). In the January 2010 NGREA the Navy Reserves were administered $55 million of the $950 million budget which VADM Debbink sees as severely insufficient. Moreover, he believes that his group could make good use of that money, and in turn, save much more in the long run as a return on the investment.
He also sees a bright future for the Reserves’ recruitment as Generation Y comes of age. The Reserves, he believes, could be very appealing to a generation characterized by its aversion to monotony and routine. In the Reserves, many Gen Y-ers could find excitement, purpose, and pride, so VADM Debbink has plans to step up the Navy Reserves’ recruitment techniques to cater to this group.
The limitations regarding problems with being promoted out of paid positions are another thing the CNR wishes to tackle. On the flip side, he wants to eliminate the restrictions that force officers who aren’t promoted to leave the Reserves. After all, why should Reservists have to leave when they love what they do, and more importantly, are skilled at what they doing? It is unfair to good serving men and women and a tremendously inefficient policy. It cuts loose years of potential training expertise and overall experience which would be a vital asset to the Reserves’ forces, so the CNR plans to do whatever he can to amend this section of the ROPMA policy.
Additionally, VADM Debbink wants to improve public perception and understanding of the Navy as a whole. During the lecture he jokingly referred to an occasion where he had to explain that, “yes, admirals have desks just like generals.” But in all seriousness, he has found that many people are interested in learning about the Navy and often their queries are extremely straightforward and easy to answer.
ROA sympathizes with VADM Debbink’s concerns and goals. Therefore, we urge our readership to pressure Congress for a larger Reserves allotment in the NGREA and for revisions to ROPMA to prevent the depletion of quality officers.