Readers Write

The Army and the Reserve: One Team

The facts regarding the integration of Army active and reserve forces tell a different story than your article, "New Roles for America's Weekend Warriors," (Jan 6).

Your article suggests the Army relies less on reserve forces for warfighting missions than other services. However, reserve forces constitute nearly 54 percent of the Army. This compares with 32 percent in the Air Force, and 19 percent in both the Navy and Marine Corps.

Army reserve forces constitute nearly 60 percent of the Army's warfighting force required to implement the National Military strategy. For the Gulf War, the Army employed twice as much of its reserve forces in southwest Asia as did the Air Force and Navy.

In 1996, Army reserve forces, which are about twice the size of Air Force reserve forces, provided over three times the support to ongoing operations.

At home, the Army National Guard provided to the states and territories nearly 14 times more support than their Air National Guard counterparts.

These points are intended to in no way diminish the important contributions of other service reservists, but the facts reflect the relevance and frequent commitment of Army reserve forces to the nation both at home and overseas.

Since 1989, the Army budget has decreased by nearly 40 percent. In a conscious effort to capitalize on reserve force capabilities, the active force has absorbed the largest share of this reduction, resulting in an overall increase in reserve forces' budget share. The Army Reserve has grown from less than 15 percent of the Army operations and support funding in 1989 to more than 19 percent in 1998.

Additionally, reserve forces have received unprecedented improvements in readiness through infusion of new and refurbished equipment. The estimated value of the upgrades since 1992 is more than $21 billion. This surge in reserve force modernization has significantly increased both the capabilities and readiness of reserve forces.

The article's discussion of the transfer of resources completely misses the point. Not only are all of the savings resulting from the Quadrennial Defense Review reserve force reductions being applied to reserve requirements, but some savings from reductions in both active military and civilian personnel are being applied to reserve force requirements as well.

The Army is intent on distributing its limited resources to those forces and programs that provide the necessary capabilities to implement the national military strategy, regardless of component.

This extended period of diminishing resources, increased operational missions for all components, and normal competition for available resources is increasing stress throughout the force. There is nothing helpful in well-intentioned, but inaccurate, media coverage of such issues.

The facts show a challenging fiscal situation throughout America's Army, but also make clear a much more balanced and effective distribution of available resources to sustain the world's best Army.

There is only one United States Army - a highly effective sum of several equally important parts. There is only one mission for that Army - the defense of our great country. Our relationship with our reserve partners in this effort is too important to be left to emotional hyperbole.

The Army's leadership is totally committed to this partnership. This commitment is reflected in the Army's 1998 theme - "America's Army: One Team, One Fight, One Future."

David K. Heebner


Lieutenant General, US Army

Assistant Vice Chief of Staff

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