Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Reserve Forces Policy Board Meets, ROA Attends

The Reserve Forces Policy Board, which recently marked its 60th anniversary and is the longest continually-serving Board at the Pentagon, held its annual meeting March 21. Chairman William Greenberg conducted the meeting with assistance from his new Military Executive, Maj Gen James Stewart (USAFR).   

The program featured remarks from Secretary for Reserve Affairs Dennis McCarthy; a report from each service’s policy board; a briefing from the Military Child Education Coalition; a comprehensive review of the future role of the RC; and discussion about how the Board might get involved in determining the RC future.

Highlights of remarks by Secretary McCarthy:
-  We are at a point of transition. Last ten years have been marked by war and mobilization. Big changes coming – we will not be mobilized for combat in anywhere near the numbers of the past decade.
-  Report by his office on the Future of the RC was completed 1 February and is pending at the Undersecretary level and has not been transmitted to the SecDef. It went through over twenty drafts and was ultimately concurred in by 23 of 24 entities.  
-  He noted RCs have received much of their recent funding through Supplemental appropriations but that in the near future, these would go away and all funding would be from the baseline budgets – and funding would be tight. Some concern was expressed by attendees that budget pressures would force a rethinking of the “Train, Mobilize, Deploy” paradigm of recent years and a return to the old “Mobilize, Train, Deploy”. Essentially, this would harm the concept of an enduring operational reserve and begin a return to viewing the RC as a last resort or strategic reserve. 
-  Big question is how much the AC will provide in resources toward the deployability of the RC. A smarter training strategy was encouraged, and he shared that not all units would have 100% of equipment (sharing would be a necessity), and that a “buy less, buy the best” strategy may gain momentum. 
-  Accessibility of the RC is a large issue. In short, before the services and COCOMs will want to expend large resources on the RC, they need assurances that the RC is accessible when needed. This will necessitate amendment of Title 10 to augment the ability of the Secretary of Defense to mobilize RC personnel for up to 270 days in circumstances short of a national emergency.  
-  The Secretary praised employers for their support of the RC. He acknowledged their were some problems but that overall the employer support had been superb.

Major General Stewart briefed on the recent changes in the NDAA2011 changing the statutory underpinnings of the RFPB. Highlights include:
-  Board no longer reports through the Assistant Secretary for Reserve Affairs, but directly to the SecDef.
- The scope of the Board’s duties remains roughly the same – it is “an independent advisor to the SecDef to provide advice and recommendations to the Secretary on strategies, policies, and practices designed to improve and enhance the capabilities, efficiency, and effectiveness of the reserve components.”

Mr. Bob Smiley of the OSD-RA office provided a further briefing on the Future of the RC report:   
- Seven options regarding future roles of the RC were included in the McCarthy report.  Among the conclusions were: (1) prevailing in the future will require the RC to serve in an operational capacity as a ready and available force; (2) we have to keep the faith with RC members, their families and employers; and (3) the RC adds considerable value to the Nation’s defense capacity.

The omnipresent issue at the meeting was funding. It is highly likely that funding will begin to be cut back for FY12 and by FY13 funding issues could be severe as supplemental appropriations disappearing and the services funding activities from their baselines. This will doubtless have an impact on the RC both in terms of equipment, facilities, and personnel. Two critical issues for the near term welfare of the RC are: (1) full funding commensurate with their role as an operational reserve, and (2 ) that they are viewed as accessible when needed. The latter will require statutory amendment which DoD is pushing to permit SecDef limited mobilization authority (up to 270 days) and for possible use in domestic emergencies.


LEJ said...

Certainly going to be a generational shift. One hopes that the investment the nation has made in it's Reserve forces over the past 10 years is not wasted. We, along with every other element of the government, have to be prepared to have less funds and probably less troops, at some point.

Anonymous said...

ROA needst to stay vigilant. Supplemental appropriation initiatives have helped keep our reserve forces relevant. Who will insure the baseline numbers keep the RC ready. Throughout the history of our Association, our interests have been protected by Congressional support, not DoD support.

a recent proposal for a Hybrid RC is fraught with assumptions that don't seem to include family or employer support.

Accessibility to the RC is not as big an issue as length of tours is on families and employers. Will proposed changes alter employer support?

Funding has always been an issue. ROA and RC component commanders cannot depend on DoD to solve required funding parity. ROA and the Military Coalition must work these issues through our elected representatives.

Bob Nester, Past ROA National President