July 14, 2003
Rumsfeld orders new plans by end of the month
By Rowan Scarborough, The Washington Times
Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld has ordered the Army, Air Force,
and Marines to draft plans for a sweeping restructuring of the
900,000-strong National Guard and reserve forces.
In a July 9 memo to the four service secretaries and the Joint Chiefs
Staff chairman, Mr. Rumsfeld said he wants to reduce the need for
large numbers of reservists in a war and to do away with it altogether
the first 15 days of a crisis. He also does not want any unit called up
more than one year in any six years.
"I consider this a matter of the utmost urgency," Mr. Rumsfeld said in
three-page memorandum, a copy of which was obtained by The Washington
He wants the military's plan by the end of this month as he continues
adjust the total force for a long global war on terrorism.
The defense secretary suggests that civilians, corporations or
could perform some reserve roles.
A military official said one option is to redirect the Guard and
homeland defense and shift overseas-deploying reserve units to the 1.4
million active force.
Larry DiRita, a Rumsfeld spokesman, said September 11 is spurring the
Pentagon to look at all sorts of changes, including rebalancing the
and reserve forces.
"His objective is making sure that every time you want to take action
world we're in now, you don't have to call up a lot of reserves to do
Mr. DiRita said.
The reserves are home to a number of units that are crucial to winning
and stabilizing global hot spots. There are now 204,000 Guardsmen and
reservists on active duty. Many of the 10,000 military police in Iraq,
example, are reservists.
Mr. Rumsfeld has complained that too many war-fighting skills lie
exclusively, or nearly exclusively, in the reserves. This means the
deployment of troops overseas for a crisis is delayed while those units
Most Army civil-affairs soldiers are reservists. They are playing
roles in both Afghanistan and Iraq as peacekeepers. The soldiers
humanitarian aid and improvements to homes, hospitals and schools.
The Air Force relies heavily on reserves to man its aerial refueling
while the Army must often call up military-police units in a crisis.
Mr. Rumsfeld's memo sets out 10 "actions for force rebalance" - a
that means he wants to see plans for moving some reserve units to
duty and some active-duty units to the reserves.
"Specifically address capabilities that reside exclusively or
in the [reserve component] and are in high demand because of on-going
operations and the Global War on Terror, capabilities that are required
homeland defense missions and capabilities critical to post-hostilities
operations," the July 9 Rumsfeld order states.
The secretary also wants the services to develop ways, such as
pay, to induce reservists to volunteer for active duty when needed.
"Make the mobilization and demobilization process more efficient," the
Rumsfeld memo states. "When reservists are used, ensure that they are
meaningful work and work for which alternative manpower is not readily
available. Retain on active duty only as long as absolutely necessary."
Robert Maginnis, a retired Army lieutenant colonel and a TV military
analyst, said the changes Mr. Rumsfeld is talking about would reverse
changes made after the Cold War ended. Then, units were shifted to the
reserves to help shrink the active force from 2 million to today's 1.4
"The type of people we're putting into the reserves are the types of
we now need on active duty to fight the war and who specialize in
stabilization," Mr. Maginnis said. "What future thinkers said
operations would be a primary mission for a large part of the force?
didn't. Future thinkers didn't envision we would have 9/11."
This is not the first memo Mr. Rumsfeld has sent out on the issue.
In November, he sent a memo to senior officials asking them to find
units that should be shifted to active duty.
"I would like a list of what those things are, and then an indication
what the various services are doing to put those critical skills back
active duty, rather than in the Reserves," he wrote then.
But officials say that planning was delayed. Weeks later, the military
a methodical buildup of more than 200,000 troops in the Persian Gulf
Operation Iraqi Freedom. Now that major combat operations have ended,
Rumsfeld is renewing efforts to rebalance the force.
"Rumsfeld's decision to rebalance the forces is prudent," Col. Maginnis
said. "Otherwise, continued reliance on mobilizing reserves will damage
retention and recruitment. Our reserves componen