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ARLINGTON, Va. — Reserve forces don’t need to mirror active-duty troops, and the Pentagon can do a better job of tapping the civilian community for talent not found in the active-duty force, said David Chu, undersecretary of defense for personnel and readiness.

Chu and Pentagon personnel staffers are in the throes of changing the mind-set of how to use activated guard and Reserve troops in time of war, he said Wednesday during the first-ever Town Hall meeting featuring the Pentagon’s four undersecretaries.

The meeting was televised live via satellite to personnel worldwide and streamlined on the Pentagon’s Web site at www.defenselink.mil.

For example, Chu said, guard and Reserve units need to recruit more trauma physicians from the civilian world, who already are well-trained and can be activated when needed. “We don’t have a lot of trauma needs in peacetime.”

Five of the roughly 100 Pentagon employees who attended the hourlong meeting asked questions of defense leaders Chu; Edward “Pete” Aldridge, undersecretary for acquisition, technology and logistics; Douglas Feith, undersecretary for policy; and Dov Zakheim, undersecretary for comptroller and the Pentagon’s Chief Financial Officer.

Employee questions touched on topics such as the process of converting some defense jobs into private contract ones; the advisory role of the Defense Policy Board, a panel of experts who meet periodically to discuss a variety of defense topics; and the impact of the retiring of the civilian work force in the coming years.

Cmdr. Todd Kiefer, who works on concept development issues for the Joint Chiefs of Staff, challenged Zakheim on the Pentagon’s use of government-issued travel cards, saying too much work has been placed on supervisors to keep track of cardholders’ activity.

Kiefer also said it is unfair for the department to place financial responsibility on individuals when the Pentagon reaps the benefits of savings, and that the services should get “youngest [troops] out of the loop” because they lack fiscal experience.

The department has been plagued with reports of misuse of the government-issued travel cards.

Pentagon leaders have revamped policies on who gets the cards, such as not issuing them to those who don’t travel frequently, and is looking into programs that would make departments responsible for repayment instead of individuals, Zakheim said.


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