CAMP ZAMA, Japan — Having evolved from a force of “last resort” to an oft-deployed and essential component of the military, the Army Reserve now needs restructuring.
And that includes purging its ranks of underachieving soldiers, the commander of the U.S. Army Reserve said Thursday.
“We have to reshape the Army Reserve,” Lt. Gen. Jack Stultz told a group of reservists during a town hall meeting at Zama. “It’s no longer a right to serve 30 years in the military. It’s a privilege.”
The Army Reserve has been successful in readying soldiers and restructuring units to support the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, but now it needs to “transform the personnel system,” he said.
Stultz is a retired Proctor & Gamble corporate executive who spent 26 years as a reserve transportation officer before going active duty in 2006 to take his current position at the Pentagon. He has deployed twice to Iraq — once during the Gulf War — and one time to Bosnia as a reservist.
The 208,000-strong Army Reserve this year began examining personnel records to identify those who have been promoted or retained unnecessarily, both in the enlisted and officer ranks, he said.
“We’re going to say, ‘Hey, you’re a colonel and you turned down command twice and you dropped out of war college and you got promoted and you’ve never deployed and you’ve been in the same position for six years — your time may be up,’ ” said Stultz,
With an excess of junior enlisted troops and senior officers, developing junior commissioned and noncommissioned officers is now a top priority, Stultz said, adding that he wants to shorten the promotion process for those who have combat experience and “deserve it.”
Being top- and bottom-heavy, particularly in personnel and administration positions, the Army Reserve has begun to focus recruiting on high-demand fields such as logistics, information technology, medicine, civil affairs and law enforcement, he said.
“We’ve got to be picky,” he told the audience.
To help meet the need, the Reserve has partnered with 800 companies, large and small, to recruit and supply those needed both by the Army and the corporate world, which often compete for the same workers.
Joining forces gives civilian employers well-trained, drug-free workers and provides part-time soldiers with technical skills that sometimes surpass those of their active-duty counterparts, Stultz told Stars and Stripes after the town hall meeting.
Since 2001, nearly 200,000 reserve soldiers have been called to active duty, serving on the front lines and as backfill for their deployed counterparts.
They are “vital to the mission,” said Army Col. Richard Sheppard, director of manpower and personnel for U.S. Forces Japan, a joint command based at Yokota Air Base near Tokyo.They are “a pool of already trained employees who without hesitation can fit right in and know the culture of the military.”
Stultz said reserve soldiers specializing in engineering, civil affairs, logistics and medicine now account for between 75 percent and 90 percent of the Army’s capabilities in those fields, making them essential to combat units.
About 45,000 reservists are currently activated. Another 15,000 troops from the Army Reserve and Army National Guard are also working for the military full time as part of the Active Guard and Reserve, or AGR, program, which Stultz said needs tweaking.
Though considered active-duty, many AGR soldiers rarely, if ever, deploy, which Stultz said should change.
He has also asked Army Chief of Staff Gen. George Casey to transfer authority of Individual Ready Reserve soldiers — troops who have completed their military service but can be called back to active duty if needed — to the Army Reserve.
Stultz and Command Sgt. Maj. Michael Schultz, Army Reserve senior enlisted adviser, have been traveling to bases in Europe, Asia and Africa in recent weeks to meet with reservists.