News: CAR answers questions, addresses enlisted troops’ concerns
Story by Spc. Elisebet Freeburg
ORLANDO, Fla.— Lt. Gen. Jack Stultz, Chief, Army Reserve, answered questions raised by junior enlisted Reserve Soldiers during a visit, Sept. 12, to the headquarters of the 143rd Sustainment Command (Expeditionary) at the 1st Lt. David R. Wilson Armed Forces Reserve Center.
The interview gave Stultz the opportunity to address concerns from soldiers further away from the Reserve command.
As the war draws down, will the Army Reserve remain an operational force, or return to a strategic force?
“It will remain operational,” said Stultz. “We cannot return to the past.”
The extended conflict of the current post-9/11 war highlights the importance of a force that must be available at a moment’s notice. The Army Reserve is needed to enable the active duty force, especially in such areas as civil affairs, engineer, transportation and medical units, said Stultz.
At the beginning of the war, the Reserve was over strength, but a number of Soldiers had quit participating in regular training and subsequently were not prepared for mobilization. After “cleaning up the ranks,” the Reserve had decreased from roughly 215,000 to 185,000 troops. After rebuilding the ranks with trained, mission-ready soldiers, the Reserve stands 207,000 strong today. Every soldier today has either enlisted or reenlisted since the war began.
“Retention rates are exceeding goals,” said Stultz. “Soldiers in our ranks today want to be an operational force. We can’t go back.”
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Thanks to great recruiting, the Army Reserve is currently over strength at 207,000 soldiers, said Stultz.
“The bad news is it’s not the right 207,000,” he added. “We’re out of balance in grade structure, MOS [military occupational specialties], and geographically.”
Brig. Gen. Leslie A. Purser, Deputy Chief, Army Reserve, is developing a plan to restructure the Army Reserve, said Stultz. Purser is working with the recruiting command to recruit troops for MOS positions in high demand, while retention forces accelerate the separation of troops not meeting standards.
“What we want filling those ranks are our best and brightest,” said Stultz.
While attending a senior leadership conference next month, Stultz plans to direct unit commanders and senior noncommissioned officers to focus on the career management of their troops.
“Soldiers need career plans,” explained Stultz. Someone needs to look at their performance, military schooling and education. “We haven’t been doing a good job of that,” he said.
Leaders should help Soldiers who perform well to transfer into open positions and tours. Some Soldiers may reach the pinnacle of their careers, and leaders may have to tell them, “It’s time to go.”
“We’re going to have to make these tough calls,” said Stultz.
“The young Soldiers coming up are awesome, and we have to create a position for them,” he continued.
Are there any reserve programs to help small business owners and entreprenuers who deploy?
Currently, the Reserve is working with Congress and the Department of Labor, seeking congressional authority and appropriation to help small business owners, said Stultz.
“It’s tough to keep your business going when you’re not there or key employees aren’t there,” he said.
Stultz noted that the United Kingdom and Australia have programs to subsidize employers, when their workers deploy.
He said the Reserve would continue to improve legislation, but eventual deployment predictability in the force will help alleviate stress upon small businesses. For example, if troops have two years to prepare for a deployment, they have time to plan how they will keep their business running.
What should junior soldiers know about their future in the Army reserve?
“There has never been a better time to be an Army Reserve soldier,” said Stultz.
When Stultz entered the Reserve in 1979 after five years of active duty, the Reserve was a strategic force, under-sourced and lacking equipment.
“The Army Reserve was your force of last resort … It wasn’t an exciting time to be in the Army Reserve,” he said.
Now, the Reserve is operational around the world, in countries like Kenya, Uganda, Djibouti, Italy, Germany and Haiti. Approximately 65 Reserve Soldiers on the Navy hospital ship, USNS Mercy, recently provided medical care to about 12,000 Vietnamese and 29,000 Cambodian civilians.
There are great and fulfilling opportunities to experience that you would never otherwise have, said Stultz.
Stultz continued by discussing the Army Reserve Employer Partnership program. Many companies have partnered with the Reserve to hire employees with integrity and values. They recognize the American Soldier has ethics, a warrior ethos, said Stultz.
Case in point, Deutsche Bank—a global investment bank in 72 countries and known for its Women on Wall Street ® Network—recently expressed to Stultz the bank’s desire to develop a Veterans on Wall Street Network.
“The opportunities for career growth are there, and we’re going to make sure you get those opportunities,” said Stultz. “You’ll see the world, help civilians, and become a well-rounded warrior citizen.”
Along with Maj. Gen. Luis R. Visot, commanding general, 377th Theater Sustainment Command; and Command Sgt. Maj. Michael D. Schultz, command sergeant major, Army Reserve; Stultz concluded his visit to the 143rd ESC by attending the change of command ceremony for outgoing commander, Brig. Gen. Daniel I. Schultz; and incoming commander, Col. Mark W. Palzer.