KAISERSLAUTERN, Germany — As the U.S. Army prepares to cut about 80,000 soldiers over the next six years, it will depend on the Army Reserve even more for certain capabilities and may call on reservists to conduct longer training missions in Europe, Africa and other regions overseas, said Lt. Gen. Jack Stultz, chief of the Army Reserve.
“The word I’m getting from the very top is, ‘Hey, we don’t want to touch the Reserve; you’re too important. We’re going to rely on you even more,’ ” Stultz told about 75 reservists with the 7th Civil Support Command at a town hall meeting last week at Daenner Kaserne in Kaiserslautern.
“What it means is, you’re more relevant than ever,” he said.
The drawdown to 490,000 active-duty soldiers will have an impact on Europe, with two heavy brigade combat teams, numbering about 3,800 soldiers each, expected to leave Germany. Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta earlier this month told servicemembers at Ramstein Air Base and Landstuhl Regional Medical Center that the Army, as a result of basing fewer brigades in the region, would rotate battalions into Europe to train, advise and exercise with partner nations, similar to what the Marine Corps currently does in Australia.
Stultz indicated that the Army Reserve could also be used to backfill any gaps in capabilities created by the reduction of troops stationed in Europe.
The goal, he said, is to create a five-year model in the Reserve, whereby soldiers would train and build readiness for four years, and in the fifth year, be available to mobilize for a contingency or other missions, Stultz said in an interview after the town hall meeting. That five-year model gives the soldier, as well as the family and the employer, predictability on when to expect to be away from home, Stultz said.
“They can come and rotate in here and conduct that same level of training with foreign army partners that we have over here in Europe,” he said. “Be here for three months, four months, and then go back home and back to their civilian jobs.”
He added, “I think we can use the Reserve components on that rotational model to give the added capability that’s not resident as we draw down.”
And not just in Europe, he said. “I think it will happen in other theaters; Africa, Asia, those places.”
After a decade of war, during which the Army grew to 570,000 soldiers, Stultz said, the Army shifted the bulk of its combat support and combat service support missions to the Reserve. Today, the Reserve, with an end strength of 206,000, represents about 85 percent of the Army’s transportation capability, along with the National Guard, Stultz said. The Reserve is also strong in medical, civil affairs, engineering, information technology and law enforcement, Stultz said during the town hall.
While the Reserve doesn’t expect to see major cuts to its budget, it wants to make room for good soldiers leaving active duty as a result of the drawdown, Stultz said.
That means, he said, under-performing soldiers in the Reserve will be asked to leave.
“If you’re not meeting the standard, you don’t have a place at the table,” Stultz said in the interview.Some of those standards are about to get tougher.
Command Sgt. Maj. Michael Schultz, the Army Reserve’s command sergeant major, said at the town hall that the Army would roll out a new physical training test later this year, one that could feature anywhere from a 1.5-mile to a four-mile run. The service is also tightening its body composition standards and will soon require more online education for promotion, he said.
“We’re looking to really keep the best of the best within our organization,” Schultz said.