- The Washington Times - Monday, July 14, 2003

Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld has ordered the Army, Air Force, Navy and Marines to draft plans for a sweeping restructuring of the 900,000-strong National Guard and reserve forces.

In a July 9 memo to the four service secretaries and the Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman, Mr. Rumsfeld said he wants to reduce the need for calling up large numbers of reservists in a war and to do away with it altogether in the first 15 days of a crisis. He also does not want any unit called up for more than one year in any six years.

“I consider this a matter of the utmost urgency,” Mr. Rumsfeld said in the three-page memorandum, a copy of which was obtained by The Washington Times.

He wants the military’s plan by the end of this month as he continues to adjust the total force for a long global war on terrorism.

The defense secretary suggests that civilians, corporations or technologies could perform some reserve roles.

A military official said one option is to redirect the Guard and reserves to homeland defense and shift overseas-deploying reserve units to the 1.4 million active force.

Larry DiRita, a Rumsfeld spokesman, said September 11 is spurring the Pentagon to look at all sorts of changes, including rebalancing the active and reserve forces.

“His objective is making sure that every time you want to take action in the world we’re in now, you don’t have to call up a lot of reserves to do it,” Mr. DiRita said.

The reserves are home to a number of units that are crucial to winning wars and stabilizing global hot spots. There are now 204,000 Guardsmen and reservists on active duty. Many of the 10,000 military police in Iraq, for example, are reservists.

Mr. Rumsfeld has complained that too many war-fighting skills lie exclusively, or nearly exclusively, in the reserves. This means the full deployment of troops overseas for a crisis is delayed while those units are mobilized.

Most Army civil-affairs soldiers are reservists. They are playing critical roles in both Afghanistan and Iraq as peacekeepers. The soldiers provide humanitarian aid and improvements to homes, hospitals and schools.

The Air Force relies heavily on reserves to man its aerial refueling fleet, while the Army must often call up military-police units in a crisis.

Mr. Rumsfeld’s memo sets out 10 “actions for force rebalance” — a phrase that means he wants to see plans for moving some reserve units to active duty and some active-duty units to the reserves.

“Specifically address capabilities that reside exclusively or predominately in the [reserve component] and are in high demand because of on-going operations and the Global War on Terror, capabilities that are required for homeland defense missions and capabilities critical to post-hostilities operations,” the July 9 Rumsfeld order states.

The secretary also wants the services to develop ways, such as increased pay, to induce reservists to volunteer for active duty when needed.

“Make the mobilization and demobilization process more efficient,” the Rumsfeld memo states. “When reservists are used, ensure that they are given meaningful work and work for which alternative manpower is not readily available. Retain on active duty only as long as absolutely necessary.”

Robert Maginnis, a retired Army lieutenant colonel and a TV military analyst, said the changes Mr. Rumsfeld is talking about would reverse changes made after the Cold War ended. Then, units were shifted to the reserves to help shrink the active force from 2 million to today’s 1.4 million.

“The type of people we’re putting into the reserves are the types of people we now need on active duty to fight the war and who specialize in stabilization,” Mr. Maginnis said. “What future thinkers said peacekeeping operations would be a primary mission for a large part of the force? They didn’t. Future thinkers didn’t envision we would have 9/11.”

This is not the first memo Mr. Rumsfeld has sent out on the issue.

In November, he sent a memo to senior officials asking them to find reserve units that should be shifted to active duty.

“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 wrote then.

But officials say that planning was delayed. Weeks later, the military began a methodical buildup of more than 200,000 troops in the Persian Gulf for Operation Iraqi Freedom. Now that major combat operations have ended, Mr. Rumsfeld is renewing efforts to rebalance the force.

“Rumsfeld’s decision to rebalance the forces is prudent,” Col. Maginnis said. “Otherwise, continued reliance on mobilizing reserves will damage retention and recruitment. Our reserves components are not designed to be routinely called on as they have over the past decade for Kosovo, Afghanistan, Iraq and the war on terror.”


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