Thursday, March 13, 2008

From an Operational Reserve to a Personnel Reserve

The Committee on the National Guard and Reserves report (aka CNGR) is an illustration of the folly of placing Reserve Affairs under the Secretariat for Personnel and Reserve Affairs (M&RA). The CNGR recommendations to disarm the National Guard and reduce the Reserves to that of a Repple Depple (Replacement Depot) for individuals and units no larger than a company are consistent with the actions of those secretariats even before the Bush 43 Administration. The CNGR report continues to beat a drum that is broken and already halfway into the dust bin of military history.

The grouping Reserve Affairs under M&RA transformed an Operational Reserve into a Personnel Reserve. The concept of contingency planning expressed in Operation Plans (OPLAN) is not that of the Personnel World of rotating assignments for career management and of replacing losses. In short, Transformation which is billed as an Operational concept is in fact more personnel driven. The National Guard and Reserves were an Operational Reserve and the effort has been to convert them into a Personnel Reserve.

The Laws of Inverse Attribution dictate that the new Personnel Reserve be labeled an Operational Reserve and the old operational reserve be labeled a Strategic Reserve as if such concept actually existed before (which didn’t). The Laws of Inverse Attribution call for emphasis on the worst of one’s virtues, and project the strongest of one’s vices on one’s opponent. Rewriting the Past is also a very old gimmick used to redirect the future.

In the days when BDU’s were new, I was a USAR tactical MI Battalion Commander with a Capstone alignment with the 49th Armored Division TXARNG which was aligned to III Corps at Ft Hood which had a contingency mission with NORTHAG in northern Germany. We trained to that mission. As a member of the 75th Division (then called the 75th MAC) I participated in dozens of exercises in which Guard, Reserve, and Regular units of all services and a few foreign forces worked together to test and refine doctrine, operating procedures, and tactical prowess.

These exercises ranged from Brigade and Group to that of Corps and Theater Army and exposed flaws in assumptions and trained several generations of officers and troops in what was expected in case of war. It is this expertise that sustains our combat operations overseas and, had there not been these exercises, our forces could not have done what they have done particularly given the ad hoc nature of the War on Terror. The announcement that these “Big” exercises were a thing of the past back a few years ago were a harbinger of the conversion of a highly competent operational reserve into one used for personnel.

It is obvious that the first thing the next Administration and Congress do to restore a real operational reserve is to break the link between Personnel and Reserve Affairs except for those issues dealing with personnel. Operations and Training of all components should be under the same staff supervision.

That leaves the question of Reserve Advocacy up for grabs, but it has been a disaster of major consequence to lump it with Personnel.

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