Thursday, September 13, 2007

Reserve Mobilization - work to be done

The Reserve components have been in a continuous state of mobilization since 1995 in support of missions in Bosnia, Kosovo, Kuwait, and Operations Enduring Freedom and Noble Eagle. We can expect that the Army Reserve will continue to meet national security requirements, and any vertical escalation from the Global War on Terrorism will necessitate increased mobilization of the Army Reserve into the foreseeable future.

To be effective partners to the Active Component Force – the Reserve Mobilization process needs some major work. I can vouch from personal experience that the process facing a mobilized and deployed Reserve soldier is highly confusing, stressful and fraught with issues not experienced by our Active Component Brethren.

It has been established that mobilization is not an end state, it is a process conducted prior to deployment. In that process the present procedures for authorizing and directing mobilization are unduly burdensome, restrictive and time-consuming. Streamlining the process to bring Reserve Components soldiers to active duty with minimum required administrative, personnel transactions will increase the agility of the force while enhancing integration.

Following that there must be a standard personnel policies and procedures in accessing RC personnel after mobilization. Accessing reservists to the AC version of the Standard Installation/Division Personnel System (SIDPERS), while simultaneously keeping the individuals on theRC database, creates personnel accounting problems. We need to fix the ongoing systems problem attributed to the inability of automatic data processing (ADP) systems used by the AC, ARNG, and USAR to interface.

During the mobilization process Reserve units struggle with the cross-leveling of personnel which is accomplished at the MOBSTA. Paradoxically, during premobilization or immediately after mobilization while still at home station; cross-leveling of personnel must come from available RC unit assets depending upon the requirements which may not be complete or clear. In my organization’s deployment the constant shuffle of multiple individuals to individual mobilization requests created massive complications to both Active and Reserve component missions.

In essence, Reserve commands "rob Peter to pay Paul" in an effort to fill mobilization needs and continue Reserve tasks (in my unit – conducting MOS qualification training for Reserve and NG soldiers). As a result of the individual mobilizations in force in OIF early on many units were rendered ineffective in key tasks with the loss of 25-40% of Reserve soldiers to individual missions.
There was help possible for the reserve tasks in the IRR and IMA but that was inaccessible to the left behind reserve unit as well. HQDA should propose legislation that would allow augmentation of the Selected Reserve with soldiers from the Ready Reserve (e.g., RT-12s, IMAs, etc.) during a Presidential call-up under Title 10, U.S.C. 673b.

My mobilization was the exception in training – I had 5 days at CRC then sent directly to Iraq. I was able to quickly assume duties thanks to years of pretty effective training in the Reserves. But, unfortunately for many soldiers, after arriving at MOBSTAs, some RC units had to repeat training previously conducted at home stations. Some Readiness Group (RG) personnel and/or MOBSTA personnel did not coordinate with RC unit commanders in developing the MOBSTA training plan. Optimum readiness would dictate that the Reserve Commander should have the best picture of the state of training for his/her unit and thus the Mob station should not mandate redundant training as a prerequisite for validation.

Published validation criteria which apply equally to all components improve training, raise enthusiasm, increase confidence, and improve morale. Giving credit for previously conducted and validated training increases "espirit de corps" and negates parochialism among components. Published validation criteria follow the principles and tenants of training doctrine, i.e., EM 25-100, Training the Force, and EM 25-101, Battle Focused Training. All personnel of the Total Force Army are required follow the published guidance of training documents.

Streamlining the mobilization and deployment event is in essence mandated by the continued needs of national security requirements. The Global War on Terrorism will necessitate ongoing mobilization of the Army Reserve into the foreseeable future. Every effort to work with the Reserve Component leadership as opposed to the parent /child relationship of the past will render improved readiness for both the active and Reserve components. It is necessary that the systems, policies and leadership of the Active and Reserve components address the differences and embrace the similarities in training, warrior ethos and commitment to the effort to improve the result of the mobilization process.

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