Story and photo by Sgt. 1st Class Corey Beal
88th Regional Support Command
FORT MCCOY, Wis. - Lt. Gen. Jeffrey W. Talley, the chief of Army Reserve and the commanding general of the U.S. Army Reserve Command, addressed more than 250 Soldiers during a town hall meeting at the 88th Regional Support Command headquarters April 10 on Fort McCoy, Wis.
Attending the town hall were Soldiers participating in a Warrior Exercise taking place as well as Soldiers from various units stationed at Fort McCoy.
Talley began with an overview of the Army Reserve and stated some statistics that may not be familiar to some, such as the Army Reserve’s total end strength of 205,000 and its operations in 30 different countries.
“The Army Reserve is embedded in every Army service component command and every combatant command around the globe to include SOCOM [Special Operations Command],” said Talley. “So every day the Army Reserve acts in direct support of the active component.”
Talley reinforced the Army Reserve’s reason for existence to the crowd.
“The reason we have an Army Reserve is to provide direct support to the regular Army. It doesn’t make us second-class citizens, but that’s why we have an Army Reserve – to serve the regular Army,” said Talley. “If the regular Army needs something done and they don’t have enough resources to do it, they come to the Army Reserve, because we are the reserve of the U.S. Army.”
Talley also spoke of the unique capabilities found within the Army Reserve.
“When you look at the Army Reserve, we have capabilities that do not exist anywhere else in the total force. For example, the Army Reserve is predominantly combat-service-support and combat-support,” said Talley.
Almost all of the Army’s total combat-service-support is in the Army Reserve and almost all of the Army’s combat-support.
Talley went on to explain and reinforce his current top priorities: sexual harassment and assault prevention, suicide prevention, manning the force, and training the force.
Sexual harassment and assault is an assault on our family and it cannot be tolerated as a bystander, said Talley.
“The Army Reserve is a family. We are a family as an Army Reserve and we are a part of the Army family,” said Talley. “You don’t let people come and do bad things to your family – right? So don’t let these people mess with your Army family. We need to hold them accountable.”
The second priority is suicide prevention said Talley. The number one reason attributed to suicides in the Army Reserve is failed relationships, the number two is financial. Contrary to what most believe, the majority of suicides are typically not non-participants and most have not deployed.
“What we have to do is recognize that there are people in our formations that are hurting,” said Talley, “and they don’t want you to know they are having problems in their personal lives. We have to get away from this idea that if I get into your personal situation that I am invading your privacy. We have to get involved with people’s lives, in and out of uniform.”
To do this, Talley reminded the audience of some of their basic responsibilities.
“Officers, empower your noncommissioned officers. NCOs, remember one of you first responsibilities is to train officers,” said Talley, continuing that “depending what officer you get stuck with – that might be pretty tough.”
Hand-in-hand with suicide prevention is taking care of our wounded warriors, said Talley.
“We can never do enough to take care of our veterans,” said Talley, “and unfortunately, we still have thousands of Army Reserve wounded warriors and we’re not doing enough to take care of them.”
To address this, Talley said he has implemented new initiatives.
“One of them is making sure that the unit who owns that soldier stays actively involved with them as they transition to Wounded Warrior Clinics,” said Talley. “Second, is making sure the legal command is there to take care of them and their families. Third is making sure we have Army Reserve LNOs [liaison officers] at our Wounded Warrior Clinics to take care of them.”
Talley’s third and fourth priorities were manning and training the force.
“The Army Reserve is out there every day,” said Tally. “We have a fully manned force, we have to train the force and we have to be ready to go.”
Individual readiness is everyone’s priority, said Talley, and you have to prioritize everything in your life.
“As an individual you have to be balanced - physically, mentally, spiritually and emotionally,” said Talley. “If you are out of balance you will not be a good leader and you won’t be able to fully contribute to your unit.”
Talley said it may sound like heresy, but the Army Reserve should not be a Soldier’s first focus.
“I want you to first focus on yourself and your family,” said Talley. "I want you to focus on your civilian employment second – and then worry about the Army third. If you do the first two, I bet you I get a better Soldier – and I get a Soldier for life.”
Talley went on to take questions from the audience. Questions included operations in Afghanistan, military technician reductions, civilian contracts replacing Army Reserve unit capabilities, dates of annual training conflicting with college student requirements, administrative and training requirements exceeding available training days, non-participant actions, and the future of Army Reserve benefits.
Talley answered each question in depth, asking his aide to take notes for follow-up and asking some questioners to directly email him more information.
Talley closed his remarks with thanks and appreciation for the Soldiers and those who support them.
“Thank you for what you do for our Army and thank you for what you do for our nation,” said Talley, “and more importantly thanks to your families because if it wasn’t for them you could not do what you do.”