WASHINGTON — A report released this week will help Defense Department officials implement recommendations made by the Commission on the National Guard and Reserve two years ago.
“There is a very strong commitment to implement most of recommendations of [the commission],” Dennis M. McCarthy, assistant secretary of defense for reserve affairs, said at a roundtable discussion here yesterday. “This [report] is going to help us sustain and maintain the momentum of that process.”
The Center for a New American Security report, which argues for a number of actions that will strengthen the Guard and reserves, combined with the 12 other studies being conducted by the Defense Department, also will help to inform defense leaders as they plan for the future of the reserve components, said Air Force Gen. Craig R. McKinley, chief of the National Guard Bureau.
“This century obviously has been hugely challenging for all of us,” he said. “We are emerging into the second decade of this century and trying to figure out what are the proper sweet spots for the reserve components.”
McKinley said today about 64,000 National Guard men and women are serving overseas in support of the Army and Air Force, but equally important is their 24-hours-a-day, 365-days-a-year support to their governors.
“Because we don’t know when the next crisis will hit, that requirement to be ready all the time … is very important for us to understand,” he said. “At any moment, we can be challenged with a disaster of natural or man-made proportions, … [and] we have to be ready to meet those challenges.”
McCarthy said the Guard and its DOD partners have made “tremendous” progress in its support to civil authorities.
“We are definitely, in my opinion, moving in the right direction,” he said, adding that the Guard’s weapons of mass destruction and civil support teams didn’t exist a few years ago.
The report states the Army and Air Guard and other reserve-component branches lack about 25 percent of their required equipment, but McCarthy said it’s unrealistic to expect every unit to be fully equipped.
“I simply don’t think that we ought to knee jerk into the idea that every company and every battalion needs to have 100 percent of its table of equipment parked out on the back lot,” McCarthy said. “If that is the standard we use for measure, I think we are never going to get there, or we’re going to get there with old and outmoded equipment.
“We need to get beyond that,” he continued, “and do some things that are perhaps a little more creative and a little more useful.” He added that new approaches are needed, including the use of simulation.
“Making the reserve component an integral and indispensible part of the operational force will take a whole range of actions that … the department is committed to take,” McCarthy said.
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