Profound Change While Fighting the War

By Helmly, James R. | Army, October 2004 | Go to article overview

Profound Change While Fighting the War


Helmly, James R., Army


Army Reserve

Today, the Army Reserve has embarked on a journey of change-the deepest, most profound change it has pursued in more than 50 years. This change revolves around readiness-not the type of readiness reported on a unit status report, but the type of readiness with which our forces will defeat the enemies of our nation-real readiness of soldiers and the institution.

The Reserve is part of the U.S. Army, an Army that is serving a nation at war. Soldiers operate in a battle space encompassing 360 degrees marked with violence and unpredictability, with combatants, non-combatants, media and civilian agencies affecting missions. Regardless of location, Army Reserve soldiers must be ready to engage in close combat and endure extreme stress, both physical and mental.

Successfully negotiating this contemporary military operating environment and defeating our enemies demands true readiness in the form of highly skilled and trained soldier-warriors who accomplish their tasks guided by a warrior ethos that is founded on the principles of warrior skills, warrior culture and mental and physical toughness. These ready soldiers must be led by strong leaders of character and competence, always guided by the principle of doing the right thing. These ready soldiers must be assigned to well-designed, fully equipped and trained formations that are trained prior to a call to active duty.

High-caliber soldiers and leaders fill the ranks of today's Army Reserve-dedicated warriors, who are serving proudly and courageously around the world. Today's Army Reserve force, however, as good as it is, does not resemble in structure, capability or readiness the force required for this war or future wars. The Army Reserve must confront today's realities and change because it is ill-prepared for warfare as it is practiced at present.

As with every war, this global war on terrorism is different. It is a war of indeterminate length. It is a war of ideas and ideals, waged by an enemy who is adaptable, unrelenting and lethal. As Acting secretary of the Army Les Brownlee and Army Chief of Staff Gen. Peter T. Schoomaker noted, "This is not a 'contingency,' nor is it a 'crisis,' It is a new reality that soldiers understand all too well."

The intent of the Army Reserve is to use the energy and urgency of current Army Transformation initiatives and the operational demands of the global war on terrorism to change from an over-structured, technically focused, force-in-reserve to a learning organization that provides trained, ready, "inactive duty" soldiers poised and available for active service, as ready as if they knew the hour and day they would be called.

In a manner of speaking, the Army Reserve's future can best be described as "back to the future." We trace our roots as a reserve force back to the French and Indian Wars (1756-1763) through the Civil War (1861-1865), when the Army raised and maintained citizen-soldiers, or federal volunteers, during wartime under federal constitutional authority to raise armies. It was the Spanish American War and Philippine Insurrection (1892-1902) that caused the national leadership to establish a formal structure for volunteers during peacetime. This predecessor of the Army Reserve, created in 1908 and eventually called the Organized Reserve Corps, produced, in reality, a pool of reserve officers and enlisted men, which the Army mobilized as individual replacements for units in World War I, World War II and, to some degree, the Korean War.

During the relative peace following the Korean conflict, America rearmed for the Cold War. In mobilizations following the Korean War, for the first time, the Army intended to maintain the integrity of mobilized Army Reserve units. Officers and enlisted men were not stripped out of organized units and sent as replacements. Instead, the Army attempted to mobilize and deploy fully trained and manned reserve units at the outbreak of the conflict. …

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