Monday, August 3, 2015 –
CHARLOTTE, N.C. - “It’s just like Kevin Bacon said in 'Animal House,' 'remain calm, all is well,'” said Col. Robert Ashby, deputy chief of Staff, G5, 108th Training Command (IET).
“There’s no reason for units to have a mass exodus. We are doing everything we can, especially for instructors and drill sergeants, to ensure those Soldiers have a position.”
That’s the message 108th leadership wants to convey as the command barrels forward toward Headquarters Standardization and Reformation.
In 2012, the 108th along with every other command within the Army Reserve, from two-star level to brigade, was alerted by Army Reserve Command that they would be required to cut current force structure levels 10 percent by fiscal year 2017 through reformation and further that the headquarters elements would be standardized by18 October, 2015.
In 2013, that warning became a reality with the official order. And so planning was initiated by the 108th G5 to ensure the process went as smoothly with as little disruption to the Soldiers on the ground as possible.
Headquarters Standardization. What is it?
Headquarters Standardization is a process by which the 108th Command Headquarters, down to Brigade level, would be restructured in alignment with other commands across the Army Reserve. Simply put, anywhere you go within the Army Reserve the command structure will look the same.
Think of it like this. Just like the load plan on a Bradley fighting vehicle, if you leave one track for another, you should already have a picture of what the configuration of the vehicle is before you get there. Uniformity across the board.
“Overall we are going from 10 brigades to eight and 54 battalions to 35,” said Lt. Col. Kenneth Pittman, Force Structure Division chief, G5, 108th Training Command (IET). “What that means is if there is a battalion that is projected to inactivate, then all of the companies would be realigned to different battalions.”
“Minimal impact to the Soldiers is what we are going for. We’re working hard to ensure that as few people as possible are impacted by the standardization. We don’t want anyone to have to move if it’s not needed,” added Pittman.
What about Reformation?
With reformation, the entire Army Reserve will reduce its force structure by ten percent, or approximately 804 positions in the case of the 108th, by Oct. 1, 2016.
In the 108th, this means reducing the current force by ten percent while still having enough available and qualified forces to fulfil the mission requirements of TRADOC.
While the 108th TC Headquarters will bear the brunt of HQ’s Standardization, there will be minimal impact to the divisions and in some cases they will be adding positions.
What are we doing?
With the completion of the headquarters standardization piece just months away, Pittman says that while up front cuts to headquarters may look ugly, what is actually happening is that those assets are being reinvested into the force at other locations.
“If there is a civilian or Active Guard/Reserve Soldier sitting in that headquarters element that is being cut, that civilian or Soldier will be offered the opportunity to transfer to a neighboring unit or in rare cases be asked to move.”
And with reformation, Pittman says the command is going the extra mile to ensure no Soldier is displaced. While the plan for the proposed cuts has yet to be approved by USARC, and there is still plenty of work to be done, the overarching goal of the 10 percent target number is being met with little impact to the troops.
“The spaces are being cut, the faces aren’t,” advised Pittman.
What this means is that if there is a position empty, then that position would be the first cut. If there is a Soldier sitting in that selected position, the Command will do everything within its power to retain that Soldier by moving them to a different slot. For some that may mean performing a different duty as the one they have been doing, but by in large, Soldiers should not be forced to move.
How do we move forward from here?
Several aim points have been established by USARC to make any moves as seamless as possible. While Ashby admits they have not met them all, they are close, and on track to meet the end-state; which is Headquarters standardization and a 10 percent reduction in force.
“It is a balancing act for us to meet these cuts imposed by USARC and still maintain our mission for TRADOC, but I’m confident we will get there,” Ashby said.
“We have a plan, but our plan could be turned down. There could be adjustments,” Ashby added. “The important thing to remember is that while there may be some personnel shifts and a minimal number of people may have to move around; we have until October of 2016 to meet these requirements and there is plenty of time for Soldiers to plan ahead and continue to work on their careers. Everyone needs to just remain calm and we’ll continue to work through this.”