Army Reserve Celebrates 100 Years of Constants and Change

Article excerpt

The Army Reserve's 100th anniversary acknowledges our nation's enduring need for such a force, and it gives us an opportunity to recognize the contributions of hundreds of thousands of men and women who have sustained the organization for a century. Further, this anniversary recognizes that the force has changed during the past 100 years from a small reserve force of about 160 medical professionals into a much more capable force that provided all types of combatarms, combat-support (CS) and combat-service-support (CSS) capabilities to what it is today: a CS/CSS-focused operational, expeditionary and domestic force that is an essential piece of the Army.

What hasn't changed in 100 years is the commitment, selfless service and personal courage of our men and women who voluntarily put their lives on hold-and on the line-to defend our country and our freedoms.

Since terrorists slammed hijacked airliners into New York's World Trade Center, the Pentagon and a field near Shanksville, Pa., on 9/11, more than 182,000 Army Reserve soldiers have mobilized to serve in Iraq, Afghanistan and more than a dozen other countries. Today about 23,000 Army Reserve soldiers serve on active duty in support of the global war on terrorism. About 17,000 serve overseas, while another 6,000 support homeland defense missions at training centers, mobilization sites and medical centers. About 15,000 serve in Iraq or Afghanistan.

Today I lead 205,000 heroes, and I see those heroes step up every day to serve our nation. Our Army Reserve soldiers are part of the next greatest generation of Americans who have served their nation in the military.

Transformation from a Strategic to Operational Force

The Army Reserve I joined was a strategic reserve, a source of manpower should our nation need us. We were not highly trained, we were not well equipped and we were not ready to deploy immediately, but the Army knew our numbers and our locations.

Our expectation was to devote one weekend a month and two weeks each summer to soldiering. The men and women in my unit didn't expect to be called up unless World War III broke out and the Russians were coming across the Fulda Gap-and we never thought that would happen.

Today, as we mark our 100th anniversary, our transformation to an operational force continues. It has resulted in the most dramatic changes to Army Reserve structure, training and readiness since World War II. The days when Army Reserve soldiers committed one weekend per month and two weeks in the summer to soldiering duties are gone. The weekend warrior is no more.

Today's Army Reserve is no longer a strategic reserve; instead, it is an operational force and an integral part of the world's greatest army. Today's units are prepared and available to deploy with a full complement of trained soldiers and equipment when the nation calls. Today's Army Reserve soldier is a member of the best trained, best led and best equipped fighting force our nation has ever fielded.

Enduring Missions

As we continue to adjust to current needs, we support other enduring missions at home and around the globe.

Institutional support. During the 1970s and 1980s, the Army Reserve provided institutional support to the Army. Our units provided trainers to expand the capability of training bases to deal with the annual summer surge of young men and women who graduated from high school and entered basic and advanced training. At the same time, Army Reserve medical professionals augmented the capabilities of Army hospitals and clinics at home during their two-week "summer camp."

Although today's Army Reserve continues to supplement the institutional base, trainers who once expanded training-base staffs now instruct members of the Iraqi and Afghan armies. Today doctors, nurses and other medical professionals who once augmented military hospitals in the States command the hospitals in our war zones. …