Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Senator Chambliss: Do Your Part to Best Shape the Reserves

On April 26, the Reserve Officers Association co-hosted the annual Senate Reserve Caucus Breakfast at its headquarters in Washington, DC. In attendance were distinguished officers from the Reserve Components, congressional staff, and executives from the military, veteran, and civilian support communities.

Senator Saxby Chambliss (R-GA) delivered remarks highlighting the integral and challenging role the Reserve Components have in our nation’s security. Offering figures from each branch, Senator Chambliss summarized that since 9/11, Reservists from all branches have conducted over 840,000 activations. Within a decade alone, over 55,000 reservists from all services have been mobilized, becoming more operational rather than a strategic force. [1] “With the increase in the mission and the operational tempo of the Reserve Components, there has also been an increase in physical, psychological, and financial impact on out citizen-soldiers, sailors, and airmen, and their families and an often overlooked financial toll on their respective employers back home.” 

Seeing that the Reserve Components will continue to be an integral part of national security and the nation’s response to key global hotspots, such as Afghanistan, Senator Chambliss insisted that “We owe it to [them] to fully train and equip them for their service to the nation.” Further, Chambliss addressed the unique challenge that Reservists face: balancing their civilian and military lives.  Identifying that unlike their active duty counterparts, Reservists and Guardsmen must maintain civilian careers in addition to reporting for duty and training. This balance is difficult for some, and while ideally it should be a smooth process, some service members face discrimination from employers as they are reluctant to hire Reservists with this pre-condition and the uncertainty of when their Reservist employee will be called for duty. To circumvent this and reach the ideal smooth process, Chambliss insisted “we present our citizen-soldiers with predictable routine deployments so that they, their employers, and their families are able to plan and coordinate for their absence from home.”  

Senator Chambliss looked to the future and the individual’s role in supporting the Reserve Components. “As we look ahead, we must ask ourselves: how should the Reserve Components be best shaped to meet the increasingly complex security and stability challenges presented to our country, and in response to our constrained fiscal resources?” Leaving this question open and for the individual, not just the Reserve Components, to ponder, Chambliss concluded “I challenge you to do your part to continue to transform the Reserve Components to best meet the increasingly complex threats of the 21st Century.”

What do you think of Senator Chambliss remarks? Do you agree with his idea to present predictable deployments? What will you do to best shape the Reserve Components to meet the challenges of today and beyond?

[1] There were approximately 16,000 reservists deployed in April 2002. In comparison, at the beginning of April 2012, there were 71,662 mobilized reservists across all branches of service. 

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