[It's become a hot issue -- the debate over whether to integrate the Naval Reserve with the active duty Navy. Already Navy officials have responded to the controversial ideas set forth in this article. Have an opinion? Sound off in Navy Discussions.]
For a response by Rear Admiral Stephen T. Keith (Ret.) to this article, click here.
For a response by Vice Admiral John B. Totushek to this article, click here.
By Captain Stuart J. Cvrk, U.S. Naval Reserve, and Captain Richard
E. Robey, U.S. Naval Reserve
The U.S. Naval Reserve is top heavy: more than three-quarters of its entire budget is spent on its own administration. It is time to remove the redundant bureaucracy that has separated the reserves from the active-duty Navy and integrate them into the fleet.
The U.S. Naval Reserve is ripe for realignment. The 60-year-old Cold
War model on which the U.S. military reserve system was built
assumes that reserve combat and combat-support forces are aligned
with their active-duty counterparts and are designed to deploy en
masse overseas in support of a war plan. In recent years, however,
the Navy in particular has mobilized individual reservists more often
than entire reserve units. It is time to transform the Naval Reserve
to meet the needs of today's and tomorrow's Navy. Through decisive
action, these goals can be achieved:
Significantly reduce technical and administrative overhead by
exploiting modern technologies and processes;
Reduce reserve full-time support personnel coupled with billet
reinvestment toward direct Navy mission execution;
Reduce reserve personnel costs, with increased reserve man-days
applied to mission accomplishment;
Make better use of the strengths and capabilities of individual
reservists in support of the active component.
Transformation of the Naval Reserve could resolve some other prickly problems in the Navy's sea enterprise that have existed for years—and dispel a few myths in the process.
Myths to Debunk
Myth 1: The Naval Reserve has missions. The Naval Reserve's
two missions—mobilization readiness for war and contributory support
in peacetime—were concocted largely by Commander, Naval Reserve Force,
to justify the separate existence of the Naval Reserve—in particular
the attendant bureaucracy through six echelons of command. The Navy
has missions clearly articulated by Congress, the Secretary of Defense,
and the President. Naval reservists exist exclusively to augment active-duty
Navy and joint organizations in the execution of active-duty missions.
They should be viewed and managed in the same manner as active-duty
Myth 2: The Naval Reserve needs to be managed and resourced
as a separate organization because the active component cannot manage
it. Most active-duty personnel know nothing about the reserve-only
euphemisms, constructs, acronyms, systems, and administrative processes
that have been created over the years to manage reservists. The Byzantine
culture of the reserves has led many to believe that a separate bureaucracy
is needed to manage reservists, when the core management functions
could be performed easily within the active Navy's lifelines.
There are two types of reservists: those who directly augment active-duty Navy or, in a few instances, joint commands, and those who are assigned to commissioned naval units manned primarily by reservists but who directly support the active component. Management of reservists entails the these functions: orders (weekend training, annual training, and mobilization), travel, pay, medical and dental, and training. All these functions also are performed by active-duty commands for active-duty personnel. Active-duty systems, support organizations, and processes should be used to manage reservists, too.
That is how some but not most reservists are managed today (although even these reservists must keep one foot in active and the other in reserve management systems). For example, Commander, Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command reservists are managed directly out of a military personnel shop aided by a Web-based virtual program office. The rudimentary virtual program office could be expanded to accommodate those administrative support functions still performed by parent reserve centers. Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command reservists are scheduled directly to support command, control, communications, computers, intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance system installation and training. A commissioned unit example is the naval coastal warfare community (see sidebar, "Jointness Is Key to Success in Coastal Warfare"), which was apportioned administratively and operationally to the amphibious groups and surface type commanders in 1998. These reservists are managed by active-duty personnel assigned to the units; oversight of the units themselves is maintained through normal active-duty processes.
Myth 3: Naval Reserve Echelon II and III commands serve a useful
purpose. Commander, Naval Reserve Force (Echelon II), Commander, Naval
Reserve Forces Command (Echelon III), and Commander, Naval Air Reserve
(Echelon III), are at the apex of the reserve infrastructure: exclusively
administrative commands with no operational or warfighting missions.
Located in New Orleans and thus disconnected from the fleet, they
determine policies and provide headquarters oversight for the administrative
management of naval reservists nationwide. Over the years, these commands
have initiated all of the reserve-only processes and systems referred
to above and have evolved into brokers between active-duty commands
at all echelons and their supporting reservists. These commands perpetuate
the wall of separation between active-duty commands and their supporting
reservists. The Navy would be better served if these three commands
were disestablished and a subset of the personnel reassigned to fleet
commands to support direct management of reservists.
Myth 4: Naval Reserve Echelon IV and V commands serve a useful
purpose. Reserve readiness commands (Echelon IV) and reserve centers
(Echelon V) were stood up during the Cold War era, when the Department
of the Navy's pockets were deep and the benefits from today's information
technology advancements were unforeseen. Reserve readiness commands
are geographic commands that provide immediate-superior-in-command
functions over 18 to 23 geographically dispersed reserve centers.
Reserve centers conduct oversight of and provide administrative support
for reservists in augmentation and commissioned units alike; they
also provide a venue for local reservists to conduct classroom training
without having to travel to a distant parent active command. This
administrative bureaucracy accounts for almost 80% of the Naval Reserve
Reserve Echelon IV and V commands are an unneeded layer of bureaucracy that perpetuates the artificial separation of reservists from their parent active-duty commands. They should be disestablished and a subset of their personnel reassigned to active commands. All reserve man-days should be expended exclusively at active-duty commands, whether for receiving training or providing mission support.
Myth 5: Naval reservists require and deserve career paths (especially
"prairie sailors," who live hundreds of miles from the sea). When
someone transitions from active duty to the reserves, he makes a clear
choice: to leave the active Navy to pursue another career. "Reserve
career interests" is an oxymoron. What reserve flag officer possibly
could have become experienced enough or built sufficient professional
credibility during a reserve "career" to serve as a carrier battle
group commander? Reservists should serve based on the needs of the
active-duty Navy and should be promoted based on their direct contributions
to active-duty organizations. They should be assigned to billets through
the active-duty detailing process based on billet requirements, individual
qualifications, and the needs of the Navy.
Senior reservists are promoted based on their ability to support the existing reserve bureaucracy, rather than on their contributions to the active component. Reserve flag officers typically are assigned reserve administrative billets (for example, commanders of readiness commands); so-called mobilization billets (billets in direct support of operational commanders) are assigned almost as a secondary consideration. This is not how active-duty flags are promoted and assigned. Reserve flag officers should focus on supporting the active component and be assigned directly as deputy commanders of major active-duty commands as determined by the needs of the active component. Further, selection as a reserve flag officer should be contingent on an officer's commitment to be recalled to active duty for 90–180 days based on the needs of the Navy.
Myth 6: Homesteading, the past practice of reservists remaining
within a community or specialty area for many years, is bad. At the
core of the homesteading conundrum is the fact that the average reservist
spends 34 days per year in uniform, which includes two days per month
and two weeks per year on active duty. The Navy gets value from experienced
reservists who understand the proper active-duty operational, technical,
organizational, and administrative contexts within which they must
operate. This knowledge and experience can come only through many
successive years of assignment to reserve billets associated with
a particular active-duty command or community. It is through homesteading
that reservists become valuable personnel resources for their active-duty
commands and communities.
Myth 7: The Training and Administration of Reservists community
is needed. The senior officer and flag Training and Administration
of Reservists (TAR) community has built the fence that exists today
between active-duty commands and their reservists. The TAR community
consists of so-called full-time support personnel who left active
duty and then returned to provide administrative oversight for selected
reservists (the bulk of the Naval Reserve). TARs make up the vast
majority of the billets in reserve Echelons I through V and command
almost 80% of the annual Naval Reserve budget. (This is the shoreside
reserve infrastructure whose functions are summarized in Myths 3 and
4.) Maintaining the reserve administrative infrastructure is used
to justify and perpetuate the existence of the TAR community. Reservists
can be better managed through active-duty support systems and processes.
Naval reservists' training must
be in synch with the fleet's needs. During Operations Enduring
Freedom and Iraqi Freedom, P-3C
Orion aircraft—here, Patrol Squadron One—flew critical combat
support missions, but Naval Reserve P-3 squadrons were not able
to augment the active forces.
DOD (MICHAEL SANDBURG)
Another area in which the TAR community dominates is related to what is commonly called "265 recall," which refers to Congress's creation of a special category of billets at multiple operational and staff echelons within the Navy for recalled selected reservists under Title 10. The intent was to provide selected reservists opportunities to contribute to and learn about key Navy commands, processes, and decision making firsthand to broaden their experience, benefiting the Navy through the infusion of commercial practices and methodologies from the selected reservists filling those billets. For years, more than 99% of these billets have been filled by TARs; they are in effect used as a career management tool by and for the TAR community.
Myth 8: Reserve liaison officers are assigned to active-duty
staffs to support access to the reserves, and thus serve a useful
purpose. Reserve liaison officers were put in place in recent years
in part because the Selected Reserve was bypassing the reserve shore
bureaucracy to find innovative ways to support the fleet. It was imperative
to the TAR community that TAR officers be inserted at major fleet
commands to "facilitate access to reservists." Reserve liaison officers
serve a useful purpose only because of the complex and inefficient
reserve bureaucracy discussed in Myths 2, 3, and 4. They perpetuate
the wall of separation between the performers (Selected Reserve) who
are motivated to serve and the customers (the fleet) who require the
service. Reserve liaison officers should be eliminated as soon as
five transformation actions are taken.
The Naval Reserve has not taken advantage of the lessons learned from the first Gulf War and other crises. The myths detailed here can be dispelled by taking transformational actions that would result in total force integration, better use of assets at all Navy echelons, truly requirements-based force structures, reduction of the tooth-to-tail ratio and attendant manpower cost savings, more streamlined surge capacity in crises, and a better understanding by active-component personnel of reserve issues affecting Navy mission execution. Taking these actions would contribute significantly to implementing the Chief of Naval Operations fiscal year 2003 guidance on realigning the Naval Reserve to better support the Navy's warfighting missions.
Action 1: Revert the direct responsibility for managing reservists
to the active component.
Transfer administrative and operational control of all reserve commissioned naval units to the active component.
Transfer administrative control of all augmentation units to their parent active-duty commands.
Disestablish the Director of the Naval Reserve (OpNav 095) staff and transfer functions to other codes. For example, all manpower and manning responsibilities should be shifted to OpNav N1, Deputy Chief of Naval Operations for Manpower and Personnel.
Aggregate all reserve training days into a single pot managed by active commands to meet their support requirements throughout the range of needs.
Fully exploit modern information technologies to manage reservists through a "virtual private network" at each parent active-duty command.
Make pay and benefits the same for active and reserve personnel, with reserve pay and benefits prorated based on active-duty days served.
Conduct a top-down reserve manpower analysis consistent with "Sea Power 21" and associated Navy missions to identify reserve support requirements over all echelons.
Reassess the current mix of reserve commissioned naval units versus projected requirements; convert to active, decommission obsolete, or commission new as appropriate.
Develop a continuum of service options that will allow an individual reservist to serve on active duty from a few days each year to nearly full time based on the needs of the active-duty command supported.
Ensure that active-component claimancies complete Department of Defense planning, programming, and budgeting system actions for their reservists.
Ensure active-component commanders at all echelons are held accountable for the training readiness of their reservists and factor reserve readiness into existing end strength and readiness reporting procedures.
Decommission Naval Reserve Force ships and reassign personnel to more cost-effective use.
Action 2: Disestablish the Naval Reserve administrative structure (Echelons
I-V) and apportion some full-time support billets to active-component
Reassign all OpNav 095 functions to other Chief of Naval Operations staff claimants.
Transfer flag billets at reserve Echelons II and III to the fleet immediately, including disestablishing headquarters staffs and readiness commands.
Immediately reassign and relocate 50% of TAR billets to active-component locations and reassign others after administrative transfer of selected reservists to parent active-component commands or type commanders.
Decommission reserve readiness commands and reserve centers immediately on transfer of Selected Reserve administrative control to the active component.
Action 3: Convert all TAR billets to regular Navy billets.
Action 4: Detail reservists within assigned communities throughout
their Naval Reserve service.
Assign reservists to communities and units that best match the experience and talent of the individual reservist and the needs of the Navy.
Promote reservists based on their potential for continued service to the Navy, with emphasis on those who seek jobs of increasing responsibility and challenge within assigned communities or units.
Eliminate reserve national billet selection boards; develop and implement reserve detailing policies and processes for active-component detailers.
Establish Selected Reserve detailers at Navy Personnel Command and begin detailing reservists consistent with the needs of the Navy.
Ensure henceforth that only selected reservists are detailed to fill 265-recall billets.
Action 5: Promote reservists through promotion boards comprised primarily
of active-component personnel.
Decouple reserve officers from their active-duty running mates. Reduce senior reserve officer ceilings and increase midgrade officer ceilings. Develop policies that promote reserve specialization and homesteading over generalization, coupled with a slower promotion path to senior rank.
Ensure all Selected Reserve fitness reports and evaluations are written and signed exclusively by active-component commanding officers.
Ensure that reserve promotion boards use the same procedures as active-duty promotion boards.
Promote reservists based on potential for continued service to the Navy.
Taking these actions would transform the Naval Reserve—and the total force—into a leaner and more responsive, mission-focused, and effective force for the 21st century.
Captain Cvrk is the former commodore of Naval Inshore Undersea
Warfare Group One. He recently completed a 19-month globalization
tour at Commander, Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command. Captain
Robey is the past commodore of Naval Coastal Warfare Group One. He
is now serving on active duty, assigned to the U.S. European Command
Office of Defense Cooperation Turkey.
Join the Naval Institute, a membership association for Navy, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard professionals and anyone interested in the sea services. Benefits include a subscription to Proceedings magazine, discounts on books, magazines and gifts, and access to the world's largest private ship and aircraft photo library.
The Naval Reserve is more capable today because of the efforts and professionalism of all Naval Reservists -- Selected Reservists, recalled Reservists and full time support personnel (TARs). It is unfortunate that such a myopic, biased and inaccurate article would appear in this otherwise superior issue.
I take particular exception to their statement inferring that the Reserve P-3 squadrons were not able to augment the active force because their training was not in sync with the fleet's needs. Nothing could be farther than the truth. The Reserve P-3 squadrons are trained to fleet standards and were ready to go for OEF/OIF. They were requested in theatre, but for undisclosed reasons the Navy chose not to mobilize them. Perhaps there was concern that these professionals -- SELRES and FTS -- would outperform their fleet counterparts as did their peers in VFA-201 aboard the USS THEODORE ROOSEVELT in Airwing EIGHT.
As for transformation, it has been underway for nearly three years under the dynamic leadership of VADM John B. Totushek, USNR. Underway even before transformation became the latest buzzword. He has involved the fleet, Selected Reservists and FTS and provided a good deal of education to the uninformed along the way. Obviously Captains Cyrk and Robey missed the transformational experience.
RADM Steve Keith is the Executive Director of the Naval Reserve Association and was recently the Commander, Naval Air Reserve Force.
Vice Admiral John B. Totushek, U.S. Naval Reserve, Director, Naval Reserve
Reading the Cvrk-Robey article reminds one of the old saw that "where you sit determines what you see." Captains Cvrk and Robey have enjoyed operationally-oriented Reserve careers while located close to their gaining commands. This leads them to apply their model to the entire Reserve Force. Their article ignores transformational processes already underway, appears not to understand the synergistic relationship of Reserve and active commands, and fails to recognize the methodology for years of successful fleet support. Using straw-man assumptions, it recommends actions that directly contravene the U.S. law (Title 10) governing the Reserve components.
The pursuit of positive change has been one of prime initiatives of Commander, Naval Reserve Force during the past five years. Through our Leading Change process, Town Hall meetings, frequent visits to Reserve centers, and a large group-intervention process called Appreciative Inquiry, we continue to embrace a free exchange of ideas and seek innovative solutions.
The Naval Reserve functions under direction of the CNO and relevant legal authority. Within those channels in the last two years we have aligned Reserve structures with active-duty structures, reduced administrative bureaucracy, streamlined procedures with the Naval Reserve Order Writing System, and improved delivery systems in every way possible within current law and funding. More changes are coming soon. Almost all Reservists I speak with reflect satisfaction with the support they receive from our full-time staff.
A few facts:
· The Naval Reserve has been transforming. Witness the alignment of the Headquarters staffs where we sharply reduced bureaucracy by consolidating and realigning Echelon II and II commands, resulting in manpower efficiencies that will send FTS billets to fleet commanders.
· A preponderance of Reservists live in the middle of the country, without immediate access to their gaining command.
· All Naval Reserve units are assigned missions by the active Navy.
· Most Reserve programs are managed by their active duty gaining commands (NRF Ships, EOD, and medical for example).
Title 10 of the U.S. Code dictates the structure of the Naval Reserve. The entire Naval Reserve chain of command interacts daily with the active force. In fact, Reserve administration facilitates, not impairs, communication with the active force. The active force tells us what they need, and the reserve force identifies and delivers the manpower and quite often the hardware as well, VFA-201's deployment as part of CAG8 and the TR Battlegroup in support of OIF, year-round VR & VP missions, HCS5's deployment to CENTCOM in support of Special Operations, to name a few.
Disconnected from the fleet? Regardless of its physical location, in a "virtual world" no command is "disconnected from the fleet". The Commander, Naval Reserve Force is assigned in an additional duty status to CFFC, COMPACFLT, COMNAVEUR and COMNAVCENT. Any argument that a headquarters command today must be co-located near a customer is simply passé. When we stood up Commander, Naval Air Force Reserve and Commander, Naval Reserve Forces Command, we did not ask them to move to Norfolk. We are co-located in New Orleans with the other half of the Navy-Marine Corps team, the Marine Force Reserve headquarters. This location is economically efficient and centrally located to serve our customer base, both the active duty and geographically-dispersed Reserve force.
Similarly, we have reviewed all of our reserve centers to take advantage of joint training sites. Wherever practical we have reduced the number of our Naval Reserve Activities, down from 454 at their peak to just 168 today.
In many communities far removed from fleet concentration centers, the Naval Reserve Center IS the U.S. Navy. Center staffs perform an impressive array of active Navy missions ranging from CACO to funeral duties, dependent service, TriCare coordination, DEERS support, ID card processing, and others.
The essay proposes solutions to problems that don't even exist. The contention is that Reservists should serve based on the needs of the active-duty Navy, and should be promoted based on their direct contributions to active-duty organizations. That is exactly the way we've been doing business in our Naval Reserve for years.
In our Naval Reserve, a well-qualified officer must be a skilled multi-tasker progressively educated by rotating through professional assignments.
Naval Reserve statutory promotion boards parallel those in the active Navy, following precepts established by the Bureau of Naval Personnel and presided by an active-duty member. Specifically, no selection board ever established a standard for selection that involved supporting "the existing Reserve bureaucracy," and contrary to the authors' contention, Reserve flags are detailed to operational billets and hold readiness command jobs only secondarily. By the way, RADM Jack Hines just completed a stint as Commander, Carrier Group One.
The TAR and full-time support staffs act as conduits to harness the ability to support active forces; they are the "gates" not the "fences" for training, equipping and managing the force. The Cvrk-Robey conclusions about full-time support staff at the Reserve centers are based on the false assumption that these persons fill billets funded by Congress for other purposes.
In summary, while this essay appears to offer a well-meaning critique, it actually performs a disservice by targeting issues long ago addressed and resolved, oversimplifying complex working relationships and advocating courses of action that directly contravene existing law and the truth.