National Guard February_2016 : Page 22

FRAMEW O RK FOR A Report recommends the service leverage Guard and Reserve to meet the increasing challenges of a very uncertain world BY RON JENSEN STRONGER ARMY T HE ARMY NATIONAL GUARD would continue to fly AH-64 Apache attack helicopters and citizen-soldiers would be used more overseas if the recommenda-tions of a commission created by Congress to examine the best way forward for the Army become reality. The National Commission on the Future of the Army spent nearly a year listening to soldiers of various ranks, from private to general, and all components, governors, members of Congress, academics and think-tank members to determine how the Army should meet future threats to national security. Overall, the report, which has 63 recommendations, is largely positive for the Guard, emphasizing that the Guard and the Reserve are integral parts of the One Army and should play important roles. 22    NATIONAL GUARD   FEBRUARY 2016   WWW . NGAUS . ORG |

Framework For a Stronger Army

Ron Jensen

Report recommends the service leverage Guard and Reserve to meet the increasing challenges of a very uncertain world

THE ARMY NATIONAL GUARD would continue to fly AH- 64 Apache attack helicopters and citizen-soldiers would be used more overseas if the recommendations of a commission created by Congress to examine the best way forward for the Army become reality.

The National Commission on the Future of the Army spent nearly a year listening to soldiers of various ranks, from private to general, and all components, governors, members of Congress, academics and thinkt ank members to determine how the Army should meet future threats to national security.

Overall, the report, which has 63 recommendations, is largely positive for the Guard, emphasizing that the Guard and the Reserve are integral parts of the One Army and should play important roles.

NGAUS, which pushed Congress to form the commission and worked with the panel, praised its counsel to the nation.

“We asked the commission to engage Army National Guard soldiers, listen to their concerns and to consider with open minds what this force can and should contribute in the future,” retired Maj. Gen. Gus Hargett, the NGAUS president, said in a statement immediately after the release of the report Jan. 28. “Our quick initial review of the commission’s final report suggests the panel did just that.”

The National Governors Association and the Adjutants General Association of the United States expressed similar sentiments.

In their report to Congress and the president released, the eight members of the panel (box, page 25) addressed the issue that made the commission necessary. The Army had devised a cost-cutting plan that included the transfer of all 192 Apaches in the Army Guard to the active component.

The Aviation Restructure Initiative, as it was called, did not sit well with the Guard or the governors, who both touted a 2013 National Guard Bureau proposal to leave six Apache battalions in the Guard, with the active-component Army getting 18.

At the public release of the report, Robert F. Hale, a member of the commission and a former Pentagon comptroller, called ARI “well-conceived” and said it did save money, which was its stated intent. But it does not provide surge capacity and “works counter to the One Army goal of the commission.”

In something of a compromise, the commission recommends maintaining four Apache battalions in the Guard (it has eight today), each with 18 aircraft. The active-component Army should have 20 battalions of 24 aircraft. The recommendation does come with a higher price tag: a one-time cost of $420 million to upgrade 24 more Apaches AH-64Ds to AH-64Es, and $165 million per year to operate.

To help offset the costs, the report recommends slowing down the procurement of UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters, which would slow Black Hawk modernization in the Guard.

The panel also thinks Guard combat brigade teams should have more frequent rotations at combat training centers (CTCs). Commissioners heard testimony during their investigation that some units waited a decade between cycles at the National Training Center at Fort Irwin, Calif., and the Joint Readiness Training Center at Fort Polk, La.

Commissioners, too, said that Army recruiters should seek new soldiers for all components and said the current system of each component recruiting for itself means components are competing against each other for a “dwindling” pool of applicants.

They also said the Army hasn’t done enough to exploit fully the Total Army. They said they found that Guardsmen and Reservists want to be used more and should be used more. “All too often,” they said in the report, the Army deployed “stressed Regular Army units when it could have deployed similar Army National Guard and Army Reserve units.”

Throughout the report’s 208 pages, the commission emphasizes the One Army principle. They suggest that soldiers be able to transfer from one component to another with greater ease. But that would require some administrative changes.

“Over your career, you may choose to go back and forth [between components],” said retired Lt. Gen. Jack C. Stultz, a former chief of the Army Reserve. “The pay and personnel systems right now make that very difficult.”

Commissioners said their examination made clear that a level of animosity exists between the Army and the Army Guard. Retired Gen. Carter F. Ham, the former commander of U.S. Africa Command and the commission chairman, said some witnesses made “disparaging remarks about the other component,” and suggested such attitudes may be driven by the budget or the culture.

Whatever the reason, Ham said, “That’s got to stop. The nation has one Army. . . . It’s when the three components are in proper balance and properly integrated that the nation has the one Army it needs.”

Most of the commission’s recommendations require Army, Defense Department or congressional action. This includes its Apache recommendation. The Army has already transferred 24 Apaches out of the Guard this fiscal year and plans to remove another 48 in the coming months.

Below is further analysis on some of the commission’s key recommendations:


(Recommendation 12)

The president should budget for and Congress should authorize and fund an Army that maintains an end-strength of at least 980,000 uniformed personnel (450,000 in the Regular Army, 335,000 in the Army National Guard and 195,000 in the Army Reserve) at planned readiness levels.

Discussion: The report stresses 980,000 troops is “minimally sufficient” and the figure can be maintained at “reasonable levels” of readiness only with a budget no less than the president’s request for fiscal 2016. Sequestration-level funding established by the Budget Control Act of 2011 is not enough. In fact, sequestration, which remains the law of the land, will take the Army to 920,000 troops, including an Army Guard of just 315,000 personnel, by fiscal 2019. This means a force of 980,000 soldiers can only be maintained if Congress adjusts or repeals sequestration.

THE NGAUS TAKE: The association wonders if an Army of 980,000 troops is “minimally sufficient” given a worsening global threat environment. In addition, even 335,000 troops would be the smallest Army Guard force since the Korean War, a time when the U.S. population was half its current size. The report acknowledges the “significant shortfalls” in a budget that permits a 980,000-soldier Army especially in aviation and air defense. NGAUS would like to have seen the commission also offer optimally sufficient end-strength and budget figures. The association also would have liked the commission to recommend taking a hard look at the Guard as a way to increase combat power at minimal cost.


(Recommendation 57)

Congress, the Defense Department and the Army should implement the commission’s plan for distribution of the Apache fleet, which maintains 24 manned Apache battalions, including 20 in the Regular Army equipped with 24 aircraft each and four in the Army National Guard equipped with 18 aircraft each. The plan adds only two Black Hawk battalions to the Army Guard. The Army should commit to using the four Army Guard Apache battalions regularly, mobilizing and deploying them in peacetime and war.

Discussion: The commission was specifically directed to address the Army plan to transfer all 192 AH-64 Apache attack helicopters in the Guard (eight battalions across nine states) to the active component as part of the Aviation Restructure Initiative. ARI was designed to cut costs. Its $12 billion in savings comes from eliminating one combat aviation brigade and retiring the entire fleet of OH-58D Kiowa Warriors, an armed-reconnaissance helicopter flown primarily by the active component. The Guard’s Apaches fill the recon void left by Kiowa’s departure. In their place, the Guard receives four UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter battalions. The commission looked at ARI and an alternative plan offered by the National Guard Bureau that would maintain six Apache battalions in the Guard, two of them multicomponent units. The commission recommendation is something of a compromise. It provides “surge capacity” and greater overall capacity, but with a slightly higher price tag than ARI: a one-time cost of $420 million to upgrade 24 Apaches and $165 million per year to operate the four Army Guard battalions. The report says slowing the purchase of new Black Hawks is one way to help cover the added expense.

THE NGAUS TAKE: Six battalions would reduce turbulence in the Guard, but four allows the organization to mirror the active component, which is essential if the Army Guard is to maintain its role as the primary combat reserve of the Army. It also keeps some of the most experienced Apache pilots and maintainers in the force and provides the Army a way to retain active-component Apache pilots and maintainers who want to leave full-time service. NGAUS would prefer finding a bill-payer other than slowing the purchase of new Black Hawks. The Army Guard operates nearly 300 A-model Black Hawks, the last of which is not scheduled to leave service until 2023. Fewer new aircraft would only push that further to the right.


(Recommendation 29)

Congress should expand 12304b authority to include operational requirements that emerge within the programmed budget timeline, including the year of execution.

(Recommendation 30)

The Army should budget for and the Congress should authorize and fund no fewer than 3,000 man years annually for 12304b utilization of the reserve components. The secretary of defense in conjunction with the Army and the Office of Management and Budget should also provide for the use of overseas contingency operations and supplemental funding for reserve-component utilization under 12304b.

Discussion: The fiscal 2012 National Defense Authorization Act created this authority under Title 10 to enable the services to involuntarily call up to 60,000 reserve-component personnel for up to 365 days for a preplanned mission. However, the statute requires the services to detail manpower, costs and intended missions and gain funding approval in each year’s budget submission. In addition, the commission found the Army has consistently underfunded the program. Consequently, active-component units have had to deploy with less than two years of dwell time even when Guard and Reserve units of the same type were ready and available.

THE NGAUS TAKE: The association strongly supports greater use of 12304b authority and specifically asked the commission during its testimony to examine the potential of this authority in its examination. It reduces the strain on the active component, allows first-in forces to focus on emerging threats and keeps the Guard operational. However, the benefits under 12304b need to match those of other activation authorities, including pre-mob access to TRICARE and early retirement credit. This requires congressional action.

Cross-Component Service

(Recommendation 35)

Congress should enact legislation to allow assignment of Regular Army officers and enlisted soldiers to Army National Guard positions to execute all functions without prejudice to their federal standing. The legislation should also permit the similar assignment of National Guard.

Discussion: The report says a key to force integration is providing opportunities for soldiers to serve in other components. However, statutory limitations stand in the way. They permit detailing but not assigning active component members to Army National Guard positions. Assigning members of the active-component to a Guard unit would most likely require them to serve in dual Title 32 and Title10 status and take the state or territory oath of office. Assignment to another component, the report adds, should be considered “a key developmental experience and could be considered criteria for promotion.”

THE NGAUS TAKE: The association specifically asked the commission in testimony to recommend the elimination of barriers to cross-component service and to consider recommending that such assignments be a prerequisite for senior Army positions. Such assignments would foster greater understanding across the components of the unique challenges and capabilities inherent in each component. However, Congress and the Army must ensure such cross-component service does not come at the expense of retention or degrade the Army Guard’s community connections.

One Army Recruiting

(Recommendation 38)

Congress should authorize and direct the secretary of the Army to establish a substantial multiyear pilot program in which recruiters from all three components are authorized to recruit individuals into any of the components and receive credit for an enlistee regardless of the component. Congress should specifically authorize the pilot program “notwithstanding any other laws” in order to avoid potential fiscal law concerns. The Army should complete a detailed design for a pilot program within one year after publication of this report and, pending congressional approval, fully implement the pilot program within one year after completion of the design work.

(Recommendation 39)

Congress should authorize, and the secretary of the Army direct, the consolidation of marketing functions under the authority of the Army Marketing Research Group to gain unity of effort. The AMRG must employ marketing strategies to achieve recruiting goals of the Army Reserve, Army National Guard and Regular Army.

Discussion: The active component and the Army National Guard historically have run separate programs, in part because the bottom- line responsibility to fill units is very different in the two components. A recruiting command has that job in the active component, while the responsibility falls on individual commanders in the Guard. However, this results in different branding and marketing campaigns, according to the commission. And at the local level, recruiters from each component end up competing for the same dwindling population of potential recruits, possibly influencing an individual to join a component that may not be the best fit for that person. The report notes the Army has recent success in aligning recruiting efforts. As part of its attempt to grow structure during the height of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the Army created the “Active First” program. Army Guard recruiters offered active-component contracts to individuals who then agreed, at the end of their active-component commitment, to do a tour in the Army Guard. The Active First program assessed more than 4,900 enlistees from 2007 to 2011.

THE NGAUS TAKE: One Army recruiting may be the most challenging recommendation of the commission to achieve. There has been little unity of effort historically due to fundamental differences in the way the components are organized and administered. The active-component Army and Army Reserve are national forces, while the Guard is state-based.Nevertheless,there are some efficiencies and cost saving to more of a One Army approach. In addition, the Guard and its presence in nearly 3,000 communities nationwide has much to offer, as evidenced by the results of the Active First program.

The full commission report is available at

RON JENSEN can be contacted at 202-408-5885 or at

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