Story by Timothy Hale
U.S. Army Reserve Command
PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. – Four of the past five chiefs of the U.S. Army Reserve shared their years of institutional knowledge with current leaders Aug. 20 during the Army Reserve Senior Leader Forum.
Lt. Gen. Jack C. Stultz, Lt. Gen. Thomas J. Plewes, Maj. Gen. Max Baratz, and Maj. Gen. Roger W. Sandler led the Army Reserve over a span of nearly 25 years.
Collectively, the chiefs have built the Army Reserve into a large force for operations such as Desert Shield/Desert Storm only to later scale that force back due to reduced worldwide threats and budget authorization reductions.
Current chief, Lt. Gen. Jeffrey W. Talley, said many of the challenges facing the Army Reserve today are not unlike those the past chiefs faced. But he said there is a difference – the added value of the Army Reserve.
“The Army Reserve’s value is very high in the Army … and that’s because of all of you,” Talley said.
When asked what their proudest moments of being the Army Reserve’s top senior leader, the answers were varied based on their given time of service.
Plewes, who served from May 1998 through May 2002, said he was proud of shaping a force that was reduced after Desert Shield/Desert Storm.
“We were able to take a force that had gone down and been shell-shocked and turn it into a force that was ready … to turn it into an operational force,” Plewes said.
Plewes said he spent a lot of time “calming the waters.”
Baratz preceded Plewes, serving as the chief from Feb. 1994 to May 1998.
“We put the building blocks into the Army Reserve for the success it is today,” Baratz said. “The USARC and the posts you own across the country are alive and well. The (Army) Reserve is alive and well despite the same problems we’ve always had. We straightened out the resources that were a terrible mess at the time.”
Sandler served as the chief from Aug. 1991 through Jan. 1994. During his tenure, he concentrated on growing the capabilities of the Army Reserve.
“That was a big, big challenge,” Sandler said. Desert Storm had ended and Sandler said they sent teams over to figure out what to do with the military equipment used during the operation – not unlike what is going on as the Army prepares to end the Afghanistan mission.
“Those are big responsibilities that you’re going to be faced with right now with OEF,” Sandler said.
Stultz, who served from May 2006 through June 2012, said that compared to his predecessors, his challenge wasn’t funding or cutbacks but building an operational reserve.
Stultz said he was also proud of the quality of the Soldiers now serving in the Army Reserve.
“The credibility of the force – not just at the senior level,” Stultz said. He cited an active component commander who wanted to take an Army Reserve unit with him overseas.
“That’s when you’ve got the credibility and you’ve earned it by your performance,” Stultz said. “That’s really a proud moment for me.”
He added that leaders must do a better job sharing the capabilities of the Army Reserve.
“A lot of people across the force don’t realize what a great asset is sitting over here in the Army Reserve in terms of capability, experience and quality,” he said. “If we are not careful, we’ll lose it.”