Army Reserve Restructuring for Future Challenges

By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Feb. 3, 2006  - As the Army Reserve reshapes its force structure to make it more prepared for future overseas or domestic missions, the component will emerge as a more fully manned, better-trained and more capable force, its chief told the American Forces Press Service today.

Speaking by phone from the Army Reserve Command's Atlanta headquarters, Army Lt. Gen. James R. Helmly outlined a sweeping plan to shift missions within the Army Reserve, increase its ranks while reducing its authorized end strength, and streamline command, control and support operations.

"We intend to get our house in order," Helmly said of the plan, to be fully implemented by the end of fiscal 2010.

One of the boldest steps - reducing the Army Reserve's authorized end strength from 205,000 to 200,000 - isn't actually the force cut it might appear to be, because the Army Reserve currently has just 188,000 members on its rolls, Helmly said.

As it works to build its force to 200,000, a goal Helmly expects to reach by late in fiscal 2008 or early in fiscal 2009, the general insists the numbers will reflect trained, equipped members ready to deploy, if needed.

He expressed frustration with past force-strength figures that included reservists who hadn't yet shipped from their training posts, had permanent profiles or were otherwise not deployable.

Rather, Helmly said he wants to build an Army Reserve that's based on available strength - that is, soldiers who are fully trained and deployable. "We want to make sure units are full, filled with trained people who are deployable and ready to go," he said.

As part of this effort, the Army Reserve is streamlining its operations and restructuring its headquarters and training bases to make them more efficient and effective, Helmly said. That effort will free up 10,000 slots for operational units, he said.

In addition to improving readiness, Helmly said he sees these initiatives as big morale boosters for the troops.

"Soldiers want to belong to a good organization," he said. Enhancing units will make people more likely to want to want to stay in the Army Reserve, he said.

"As you make units more whole, you will improve retention even more because soldiers will feel good about being in a unit where they have all their leaders, where the leaders are trained and where all the other soldiers are there and they can go out and train prior to mobilization," he said.

Helmly said he owes it to members of the Army Reserve to ensure they have the best force possible. "They serve us with distinction and courage," he said. "And we should be able to make equally courageous decisions back here with regard to how we run the business end of things. And that is what we are trying to do."