- The Washington Times - Monday, November 11, 2002

Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld has ordered top aides to permanently transfer missions to active-duty forces that are now performed by National Guardsmen and Reservists, according to an internal Pentagon memorandum from the secretary.
Mr. Rumsfeld stated in a memo earlier this month that he wants the "critical skills" identified and shifted in time for submission in the fiscal 2004 budget, which goes to President Bush next month.
The memo reveals what could be a significant policy change for the Pentagon's "total force" of 1.4 million active personnel and about 875,000 Guardsmen and Reserves. Since the immediate post-Vietnam era, the Defense Department has kept scores of critical tasks assigned to the Reserves, which were activated in times of emergencies.
Mr. Rumsfeld's memo calls this "unwise." He explicitly states he plans to change the tradition for some specialties. The Pentagon is relying on about 60,000 Reservists to fight the war on terrorism. Any significant cuts in reserve forces could bring protest from Capitol Hill, where lawmakers protect their home state units.
"It is very clear that there are some distinctive tasks only found in the Reserves that are not found on active duty, which means if you want to do those things you have to activate Reservists. That seems to be to be unwise," Mr. Rumsfeld wrote in his memo, a copy of which was obtained by The Washington Times.
"I would like a list of what those things are, and then an indication of what the various services are doing to put those critical skills back on active duty, rather than in the Reserves," he states. "This has to be reflected in the budget in some way."
His memo went to Dov Zakheim, the Pentagon comptroller, and Stephen Cambone, one of Mr. Rumsfeld's closest aides. Mr. Cambone is advising the secretary on what programs to change, keep or cancel to transform the armed forces.
Mr. Rumsfeld wants a proposal on his desk by Friday.
The defense secretary did not identify specific skills or units. But likely candidates are occupational specialists more prevalent in the Reserves than active duty: aerial refueling crews, medical personnel, some jobs in special operations such as civil affairs, and military police.
The key phrase in the memo states "Put those critical skills back on active duty, rather than in the Reserves." This indicates Mr. Rumsfeld wants the jobs reduced in the Reserves and created in the active force.
Jayson L. Spiegel, executive director of the 60,000-member Reserve Officers Association of the United States, said his group will await details before deciding whether to endorse any plan.
"If all he is doing is tweaking it, saying we have too much in the Reserves in one skill, that's OK," Mr. Spiegel said. "We would be concerned if there is a wholesale reduction in the total Reserves. I don't think from a budget standpoint the White House budget office would stand for it."
Reserves have played a large role both in homeland security and in fighting the war on terrorism. The post-September 11 call-up peaked at around 77,000, and has since decreased to just below 60,000.
The Pentagon immediately called up Reserves to guard military installations and fly combat air patrols. In Afghanistan, reserve civil affairs units are performing the critical role of helping Afghan villagers rebuild and modernize farms, schools, water and power supplies and local governments.
"That is what's going to be critical when the hostilities are over in Iraq, the civil affairs, and the military police and the medical." Mr. Spiegel said. "I'm sure we'll supply medical support to the villages."
During the Clinton administration, Congress beat back a Pentagon proposal to decrease the overall number of Guardsmen and Reserves, and will watch Mr. Rumsfeld's new plan closely, congressional aides said.
Last week, Mr. Rumsfeld talked generally about his plans but was not as specific as his memo, which directly called for transferring skills from the Reserves to the active force. He suggested there may be a swap of some specialties.
"We certainly are looking at it and we intend to, over some reasonable period of time, come forward with some suggestions as to how we might migrate some active activities that are not always going to be needed for sure into the Guard and Reserve, and vice versa," Mr. Rumsfeld told reporters.

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