Tuesday, August 05, 2008
August in the eyes of an old Reserve Soldier
In the week leading up to it, I offer that 12 August is a special day for me… it occurs all too quick in my latter years that my birthday rolls around. So in celebration of this event this year I decided to post a little history of the day from a personal and Reserve Component perspective.
12 August 2005 – 3 years ago – I was wrapping up my year as a mobilized Reserve Soldier with the Multi-National Security Transition Command – Iraq. A member of a joint, multi-national effort to transition the Iraqi Military to self sufficiency. I was indistinguishable from active Component soldiers and serve side by side with them to accomplish an extremely critical and difficult set of tasks in a combat zone under combat conditions. In this job myself and over 700 fellow 98th Division soldiers were thrown into all manner of jobs with minimal training and made good our presence in the fight. We lost some great soldiers in the effort but we were part of the initial change to Reserve versus Active component working relationship.
12 August 2004 (4 years ago) that I got called up to be mobilized to Iraq. I had gone out to lunch with my boss and a phone call awaited my return – telling me that I was to prepare for departure. Our organization had not been mobilized to any extent since World War II and the processes and procedures were in untested and dusty plans that no one really monitored. Given that however, I was in theater by mid September 2004 after a whirlwind of activity. Life as a Reserve soldier was about to take a radical change.
12 August 2003 - 5 years ago - I was a Battalion Commander for a QM training Battalion in the Army Reserve. The period was one of 1 weekend a month and a couple active duty training periods during the summer. We had essential no equipment and it was very rare for Reserve Soldiers to be deployed unless they were in a urgently needed skill. Our country had declared victory in OIF and we seemed to have quickly beaten the Iraqi machine. Saddam Hussein was missing and his sons were killed in a firefight with American forces the month before. I had just started working for my DA Civilian job at Picatinny Arsenal, NJ having finally left the Military Technician ranks.
12 August 1998 – 10 years ago – at this point I was a Major in the 78th Division and a Military technician for the unit. I was at that point the Brigade’s Comptroller having just left assignment as a Simulation’s Officer. We had an Active Duty Colonel assigned to the Reserve Brigade – a new thing for the reserves and usually the last assignment for Active component officers as it was not an assignment that aided promotion. The Brigade provided training to Guard and Reserve units and funding for such activities was always short.
12 August 1993 – 15 Years ago – a senior captain in the 1st Battalion, 315th Infantry as the Battalion S3. A Military Technician with the 6th Battalion, 68th Armor. Just completed Command and General Staff College as it was required for promotion to Major. An incredibly busy year with my reserve Battalion going to National Training Center this year. Little did I know that in 1995 the Army Reserve would vaporize Combat Arms units in the Army Reserve in a trade of functions with the National Guard. The experience left many of us that were committed combat arms soldiers in the Reserve feeling betrayed at the time.
12 August 1988 – 20 Years ago – just started my career as a military Technician with the 6th Bn, 68th Armor. One of only two Armor Battalions in the Army Reserve. Essentially the start of my Reserve Career as well as a company commander with the CSC and HHC companies. Interaction with the active component was limited to a couple exercises with I Corp as role players in large simulations exercises. The only was we were going to be mobilized was if the great Red Hoard came rolling through Fulda Gap.
12 August 1983 – 25 Years ago – a Second Lieutenant for over a year assigned on Active Duty to 1st Battalion, 7th Cavalry at Ft. Hood. I had completed Armor Basic, Airborne and Air Assault School and was a lean mean fighting machine. In the next year I would be promoted and have the opportunity to go out on Training assistance teams to observe National Guard Armor Battalions training during their AT. My impressions as a full of himself Active component soldier were not flattering to the National Guard troops we observed. These National Guard units had M48A5 and M60 tanks while my active duty unit was in M1s. The difference in equipment, financial, training and readiness levels were huge. The Guard soldiers were a collection of rough hewn volunteers that enjoyed what they were doing, but were far from capable of being a credible partner with active component units.
I thought I’d share the “this date in History” as a reflection of the way things have changed for Active and Reserve component units. I am hopeful we do not return to the days of disparate resources for the Reserve Components born of tight financial times and cannibalization management driven at the highest levels of the Army.