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DoD Deals New Hand to Reserve Forces

 By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

 WASHINGTON -- Changes to homeland defense, the stand-up of new 
 reserve teams to combat weapons of mass destruction and the 
 continuance of reserve component integration with the active 
 force are in the cards for reservists in the next year.
 Charles L. Cragin, acting assistant secretary of defense for 
 reserve affairs, said reservists continue to re-serve around the 
 "I've been to Bosnia twice now," Cragin said during an 
 interview. "You can't tell the difference between active and 
 reserve [component service members]. They are all there doing 
 their jobs, proud of what they are doing and motivated. We see 
 this through their retention and re-enlistment figures when they 
 come home. There's no attrition in the units [that go to global 
 hot spots]. In fact, their retention and recruiting are through 
 the roof."
 He said a composite Army National Guard aviation company from 
 Florida, Alabama and North Carolina arrived in Kuwait recently. 
 They are there under a presidential selected reserve call-up for 
 270 days. Cragin said this is just another example of the 
 integration of the reserve components into the total force.
 "Where it makes sense to use reservists, we will," he said. "You 
 have to remember that if you call up a reserve unit, it costs 
 just as much as an active unit. The difference is you haven't 
 budgeted for it." Finding ways to use the reserves, therefore, 
 is as much a matter of budget as of need, he said.
 The reserve components have a completely new role in homeland 
 defense, Cragin said, and the definition of homeland defense 
 continues to evolve. "Homeland defense has been under discussion 
 for some time, because we don't really know what it constitutes 
 in this day of asymmetrical threats," he said.
 "We know for certain that it includes responding to weapons of 
 mass destruction," he continued. "We know that it includes 
 information operations and counterintelligence operations for 
 information warfare. It includes the air defense of the United 
 States. We don't know how much further it goes as it relates to 
 National Guard and Reserve involvement." 
 Defense Secretary William Cohen's initiatives in the area of 
 weapons of mass destruction have raised the whole homeland 
 defense issue. The congressionally chartered National Defense 
 Panel agreed with him when it recommended the reserve components 
 play a seminal role in homeland defense. 
 Both Cohen and Deputy Secretary John Hamre feel that the Guard 
 and Reserve are the logical components to be involved in 
 homeland defense, Cragin said, and the role of the reserves will 
 grow as the concept is defined. One outgrowth so far is a new 
 threat category for which the president can activate up to 
 200,000 reservists: providing assistance for an emergency 
 involving the use or threatened use of weapons of mass 
 The regional commanders in chief are discussing the reserve 
 component role in homeland defense. Among the aspects being 
 discussed are which of them should be the responsible commander 
 and how should any new organization be structured, Cragin said.
 The threat of weapons of mass destruction means defending 
 against any guy with a bottle or a suitcase full of biological 
 or chemical agents, he said. The threat is asymmetrical, and 
 many people don't understand the term -- among other things, it 
 means an enemy is going to hit you where you least expect it, he 
 "I think the secretary not only understands that, but he 
 appreciates that and has been concerned about it for some time" 
 Cragin remarked. "America is not ready to deal with these sorts 
 of asymmetrical threats be they weapons of mass destruction or 
 cyberterrorism, where we are equally fragile."
 Through fiscal 1999, National Guard Rapid Assessment and Initial 
 Detection teams composed of 22 members each will become 
 operational at 10 locations throughout the country. The teams 
 will work with local officials and provide them the expertise to 
 assess and identify chemical or biological substances so they 
 can tell what they are dealing with if an incident occurs.
 "This capability is something [DoD] must do for force 
 protection," Cragin said. "But we can also send [the teams] 
 throughout the United States working day-in-and-day-out with 
 local responder colleagues who are always going to be the first 
 on the scene.
 "I think once everybody understood what the teams' missions were 
 -- they are there to support the men and women who serve on a 
 daily basis -- they said, 'That's great! We can always use this 
 sort of resource.'" 
 Early detection and identification of a terrorist's chemical or 
 biological agent can be crucial. "In Tokyo, for example, and the 
 sarin gas attack, the Tokyo first-responders didn't have a clue 
 for the first three hours on what they were dealing with," 
 Cragin said. "So people exposed to sarin gas wandered into 
 hospitals, potentially contaminating them."
 Eliminating real and cultural barriers to the full integration 
 of the reserve components into the total force will continue to 
 be a priority for Cragin and DoD. He has asked the services to 
 assess their progress in integrating active and reserve forces. 
 Further, he asked each service to identify remaining barriers 
 and their plans for eliminating them. 
 One area of contention between the active and reserve forces 
 dealt with resources. "I think one of the things most telling 
 was the involvement of the reserve chiefs . when the services' 
 budgets were subjected to scrutiny and oversight by DoD in the 
 program review group and in the Defense Resources Board," Cragin 
 said. All the reserve chiefs attended and had an opportunity to 
 participate in the proceedings.
 "That's a historic first. Bringing in [reserve component] two-
 star leaders and putting them in the rooms with their three- and 
 four-star [active duty] seniors and giving them an equal voice 
 at the table worked," he said. "You can see it working in the 
 integration of Guard, Reserve and active budgeting. You can see 
 the services embed more of their reserve requirements in their 
 budgets rather than the good old days when they said, 'Let 
 Congress plus them up. We won't worry about them.'" 
 Cragin said DoD can't rest on its laurels as far as producing 
 the "seamless total force" Cohen has called for. "We've got a 
 long way to go. We still have some attitudes that have to be 
 changed, and we still have all the resource issues that must be 
 addressed," he said. "This is the force of the future. This is 
 the way we have to fight."


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