Army Reserve Chief: Have Reservists Do Homeland Missions

WASHINGTON, April 6, 2011 — The Army Reserve’s top offi­cer made the case today for leg­isla­tive changes that would allow his troops to respond to home­land dis­as­ters or attacks when fed­er­al mil­i­tary capa­bil­i­ties are need­ed.
Army Reserve Chief Lt. Gen. Jack C. Stultz made clear dur­ing a round­table dis­cus­sion at the Her­itage Foun­da­tion here that he has no inter­est in under­min­ing state gov­er­nors’ author­i­ty or step­ping on the toes of the Nation­al Guard that cur­rent­ly pro­vides home­land sup­port under their state gov­er­nors’ orders.

But in light of bud­get con­straints and vast improve­ments in the Army Reserve’s readi­ness and capa­bil­i­ties dur­ing the past decade, Stultz said it does­n’t make sense to be able to use these capa­bil­i­ties only dur­ing over­seas mis­sions.

“The pri­ma­ry focus of the Title 10 reserve has always been on the expe­di­tionary,” he said. “We have been say­ing for some time is: ‘We should be play­ing a role in the home­land.’ But it is going to require leg­isla­tive change.”

Cur­rent law, he said, allows an invol­un­tary call-up of the Title 10 reserve for a home­land mis­sion only for crises involv­ing weapons of mass destruc­tion. In the event of nat­ur­al dis­as­ters such as hur­ri­canes or floods or an out­right attack on the home­land, local first respon­ders — police, fire­fight­ers and emer­gency med­ical tech­ni­cians — are like­ly to be the first on the scene, Stultz said.

State gov­er­nors also have author­i­ty to mobi­lize their Nation­al Guard forces if need­ed.

“But at the point where that gov­er­nor, that state says, ‘We need fed­er­al assis­tance now. This is beyond our capa­bil­i­ty,’ ” Stultz said. Cur­rent law, he added, requires the active com­po­nent to be employed as the default fed­er­al force.

Tes­ti­fy­ing March 30 before the House Appro­pri­a­tion Committee’s Defense Sub­com­mit­tee, Stultz used his home state of Flori­da as an exam­ple of how the cur­rent law requires that fed­er­al assis­tance be pro­vid­ed dur­ing a home­land emer­gency.

“It makes no sense to me when Hur­ri­cane Andrew hits and we have to have fed­er­al response, that the 82nd Air­borne comes from Fort Bragg, North Car­oli­na,” in light of vast Army Reserve resources already in Flori­da, he told the pan­el.

“The Army Reserve has an engi­neer bat­tal­ion sit­ting in Mia­mi with scrap­ers, with buck­et-load­ers, with bull­doz­ers, with dump trucks … I’ve got [mil­i­tary police] units in Ocala and Tam­pa and Fort Laud­erdale… I’ve got hos­pi­tal units in the south Flori­da area, Jack­sonville and Tam­pa area… I’ve got a [med­ical evac­u­a­tion] unit … with Black­hawk heli­copters sit­ting in Clear­wa­ter, Flori­da. And I’ve got trans­porters, trucks sit­ting around the state,” he said.

These units are made up of “cit­i­zens of Flori­da … who want to help, and yet we don’t have the author­i­ty,” he said. “Now, we do not want to try to take the job of the Nation­al Guard,” Stultz said. The Nation­al Guard, he told the House pan­el, responds “mag­nif­i­cent­ly” when called to the scene. “What we’re say­ing is when the fed­er­al response is need­ed,” he con­tin­ued, “cur­rent­ly you go to the active force, when you have Title 10 Reserves sit­ting there inside the state that are ready, avail­able, and in a lot of cas­es, more capa­ble.”

Stultz told reporters today the Army Reserve’s make­up, which includes a major per­cent­age of the Army’s med­ical, engi­neer­ing and trans­porta­tion units, makes it the more logis­ti­cal fed­er­al choice.

“The capa­bil­i­ties that you real­ly need for the home­land response reside in our force much more than they reside in the active Army,” he said. Stultz’ con­cept isn’t new. Leg­isla­tive changes need­ed to use the Army Reserve state­side have been pro­posed at least twice on Capi­tol Hill, only to get push-back from gov­er­nors and oth­ers who Stultz said did­n’t ful­ly under­stand the intent.

“They are look­ing at it as the fed­er­al gov­ern­ment try­ing to usurp the state,” he said. “This is not about the fed­er­al gov­ern­ment tak­ing over the state’s author­i­ty. This is not about the state hav­ing the author­i­ty to call up the fed­er­al reserve [forces], either. This is about when the state requires fed­er­al assis­tance, what force do we employ? “Do we employ that active force that comes from Fort Bragg with a bunch of infantry sol­diers,” the gen­er­al con­tin­ued, “or do we employ the Army Reserves who hap­pen to be present with­in the state with the capa­bil­i­ty [need­ed]?”

Stultz said he’s see­ing more open­ness today to leg­isla­tive change. Defense Sec­re­tary Robert M. Gates and the admin­is­tra­tion are inter­est­ed, he said. Paul N. Stock­ton, assis­tant sec­re­tary of defense for home­land defense and Amer­i­c­as’ secu­ri­ty affairs; and Richard Reed, spe­cial assis­tant to the pres­i­dent for home­land secu­ri­ty, are explor­ing the issue. And in a promis­ing devel­op­ment, Stultz said the Nation­al Gov­er­nors’ Asso­ci­a­tion has expressed an inter­est in mov­ing the mea­sure for­ward.

“I don’t think it is going to hap­pen overnight,” Stultz said of leg­isla­tive change. “But I think you have both sides now, from the state and fed­er­al lev­el, say­ing, ‘Why aren’t we doing this? What is get­ting in the way?’ ”

U.S. Depart­ment of Defense
Office of the Assis­tant Sec­re­tary of Defense (Pub­lic Affairs)

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