Schwetzingen's 7th ARCOM ready for deployment
ARLINGTON, Va. — The 7th U.S. Army Reserve Command from Schwetzingen, Germany, is getting ready to deploy for a possible war with Iraq, but the 100 reservists from the command who are now in the Balkans won’t be coming along when their rotation ends this spring, according to the unit’s commander, Brig. Gen. David Zabecki.
“For our people in the Balkans, the main question has been whether they will turn around and be mobilized for Operation Enduring Freedom as soon as they come off the Bosnia and Kosovo rotations,” Zabecki said in a Tuesday interview with Stars and Stripes in Washington, where he was attending the Reserve Officers Association midwinter meeting.
“I can never say categorically, ‘no,’ but right now there is absolutely no plan for that to happen,” Zabecki said.
The 7th ARCOM is the only Army Reserve component that is not based in the United States. Instead, the command’s 22 units are located throughout Germany and in Vicenza, Italy.
Zabecki said his news was met with mixed reactions when he traveled to Bosnia and Kosovo last week to deliver the message to his soldiers in person.
“Some people were relieved to hear it, but another group wants to come back [from the Balkans] and immediately volunteer to be mobilized” for Iraq, he said.
The last time the 7th ARCOM was fully deployed was 1994 and 1995, during the Bosnia crisis, Zabecki said.
But in that instance, the command deployed in two parts. This time around, “pretty much everyone is going to deploy,” Zabecki said, although not everyone will necessarily be sent to “parts unknown” — some people may stay in Europe to help backfill active units who are leaving, he said.
During the month of January, five units and about 115 soldiers from the 7th ARCOM will mobilize for potential deployment to the Gulf, while the rest of the soldiers “are on notice to get ready,” Zabecki said.
“By early spring, the bulk of this command could be mobilized,” he said.
That includes about 75 reservists who will be sent to the Balkans in March and to replace the 7th soldiers now in Bosnia and Kosovo.
Those follow-on rotations have been long scheduled, “but there was some discussion” that the deployment might be canceled due to preparations for action against Iraq, Zabecki said.
“But the last I heard, we will send soldiers to those” Balkans rotations, Zabecki said.
The command, whose motto is “All ready, already here,” is also unique in that most of its 900 soldiers wear the shoulder patch and insignia of their “parent” active units. Only the headquarters staff of the 7th ARCOM wears the 7th ARCOM patch.
The relationship with active units “cuts out the middle man,” Zabecki said. “Because these units are physically stationed with their active headquarters, we have a shortened mobilization cycle. We mobilize right with the [active] units, not in a separate Reserve center.”