16 Sept. 15 –
ALEXANDRIA, Va. – Among the several themes that emerged from the 2015 U.S. Army Reserve Commander’s Conference is leaders from all three Army components must get involved and set the conditions for the Army’s recent initiatives.
Force 2025 and Beyond, aimed at force readiness for the complexity of future wars, relies on leaders taking responsibility to improve their units and component, strengthening overall Army readiness.
For leaders, this means continuously learning and thinking about the lessons learned and making war plans around those lessons, as well as taking into account missteps from past conflicts, to include Operations Iraqi and Enduring Freedom, said Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster, the director of Army Capabilities Integration Center and Deputy Commanding General, Futures, US Army Training and Doctrine Command.
In Iraq, as an example, a failure to understand religiosity and tribal frictions led to American forces sometimes participating in raids that threatened the sense of honor among several groups of Iraqis, adding fuel to the insurgency fire, McMaster said.
The failure to consider the human and political aspects of war, said McMaster, directly led to the lack of favorable results.
“People are fighting now for the same reasons they fought 2,500 years ago,” he said. “Wartime planning must include cultural, social, economic, religious and political considerations.“
For Reserve officers, this means continuous intellectual growth and synthesizing the information to ensure Soldiers are trained in tough, realistic environments that meet the demands of war in accordance with the situations they face.
Although officers are ultimately responsible for the planning and strategic aspects of war, NCOs are paramount in ensuring the future force’s readiness.
“The foundation of readiness starts with training, starting with the Soldier,” said Gen. Robert Abrams, the U.S. Forces commander, said. “We are one Army with one set of standards – readiness also requires trust, fitness and discipline.”
While officers are responsible for strategic and operational plans for war, the task of creating trust, fitness and discipline belongs to the Reserve noncommissioned officers, said Command Sgt. Maj. Luther Thomas, the U.S. Army Reserve command sergeant major.
“It’s up to the NCOs to make sure Soldiers are trained, fit and know their tasks and drills,” said Command Sgt. Maj. Luther Thomas, the sergeant major of the Army Reserve.
More than just taking care of Soldiers to ensure they are fit to fight, NCOs also have a responsibility to make themselves better through their own growth and the realization that whether they are in the Reserve, active duty or National Guard, being an NCO also means being a professional.
“Read, study, make yourself better – being an NCO means more than just doing your job,” Thomas said. “It means focusing on your self-development.”
Though he admits self-development may be a challenge for Reserve NCOs, who often juggle jobs and families along with military service, Thomas said a good foundation in other aspects of life will lead to them being better, more ready NCOs.
“Having a good job and a good family leads Soldiers being better NCOs,” Thomas said. “Being a leader at their job and in the home leads to being a leader in the Army.
“That foundation increases your odds of being a (successful) leader in the Army.”
More important, it requires members of the various Army components to see themselves as a part of one team – the United States Army.
For all Soldiers, this means eliminating the perceived differences between the active duty component and its counterparts, and focusing instead on simply being a Soldier.
“When you put on the uniform, you’re in Army,” said Abrams. “I don’t care that you’re in the Army Reserve. The enemies don’t care that you’re in the Army Reserve.”
“The Army can’t meet its missions without the Army Reserve,” said Lt. Gen. Jeffrey Talley, the Army Reserve commanding general. “Our culture is about service to the Army. We are one total force.”