This article first appeared in Aerospace Daily & Defense Report.
The U.S. military withdrawals from Iraq and Afghanistan will shift more training for the Army Reserve to home stations, its top officer says, but the increased use of simulators can help fill that need, keeping the force "ready and relevant."
Speaking Nov. 14 to the Defense Writers Group here, Lt. Gen. Jeffrey Talley, 32nd Chief of the Army Reserve, says he wants increased use of simulators for training the "Big Army's" enabling complementary force of doctors, engineers, logistics and other specialists who serve 39 days training for reserve readiness and the rest of the year keeping their skills maintained at civilian jobs.
Overall, he says, "we need to make more use of [simulators]."
Much as pilot training relies on simulators, Talley says, the same technology can be used for Army Reserve members, training them for heavy vehicle operation, for example, or responding to enemy attack. Marksmanship simulator technology is tremendous, Talley says, and especially valuable for reserve training, since not all home stations have easy access to firing ranges.
More broadly, the Army Reserve is "in the best shape we've ever been in as far as equipment."
As the Pentagon begins end strength reduction for Army and Marines forces, as a matter of both strategy and to afford acquisition priorities in the face of declining defense budgets, the Army Reserve plays an important role in what defense planners call reversibility, Talley says, which is the ability to quickly rebuild forces to respond to urgent events.
Post-Iraq, the Army Reserve will be increasingly involved in more missions in Africa, Talley says, especially in "prevention" and "shaping" missions, which help deter conflict, build continuity with partner nations, and contribute to strategic access and regional stability.
Talley sees no decrease in the demand for the Army Reserve. There are 25,000 Army reservists deployed at any given time, including 3,500 in the Pacific Command. Since the total force is 205,000, that deployment level is easy to sustain, Talley says. The Army Reserve's annual budget of $8 billion is 6% of the Army's budget, but accounts for 20% of the total Army force. That efficiency is a big advantage for the Army and for the nation's security, he says.
Credit: U.S. Army