Tuesday, December 15, 2015 –
FORT BRAGG, N.C. – The U.S. Army is globally engaged, supporting Combatant Command missions in multiple countries.
As the complexity and number of security challenges in the world increases, new requirements are created, and the U.S. Army Reserve continues to be in a position to provide some of these requirements.
A current example is highlighted in Europe, as U.S. Army Reserve assets provide capabilities to U.S. Army Europe and NATO allies, much of which is mitigated through Army Reserve Engagement Cells. ARECs provide direct reach back support into the Army Reserve, enabling commands to access the U.S. Army Reserve's Regionally Aligned Forces and capabilities.
“I love the AREC concept,” said Lt. Gen. Frederick Hodges, commanding general, U.S. Army Europe.
“When Lt. Gen. [Jeffery] Talley first told me he wanted to do this, and that he had an Army Reserve General Officer and Army Reserve Soldiers that would come to U.S. Army Europe, help us organize, and think through how to get the best out of the Army Reserve, I was thrilled,” Hodges said.
The USAREUR leadership, Hodges said, immediately noticed the role of U.S. Army Reserve Soldiers.
“It really is a reflection of the proactive nature of the Army Reserve as an organization, Lt. Gen. Talley's leadership, and Army Reserve Soldiers in general,” Hodges said.
“The U.S. Army Reserve has so much of our logistical capabilities, military police, engineering, public affairs, and so many different areas that fill capability gaps for us,” Hodges said.
The capability gap, referred to by Hodges, holds a valuable meaning to an active duty force that has decreased in size over the years.
“U.S. Army in Europe has 30,000 Soldiers in total, we used to have 300,000,” Hodges said. “Our mission when we had 300,000 was to deter the Soviet Union and assure allies, and our mission today with 30,000 Soldiers is to deter Russia and assure allies."
“How do you make 30,000 feel like 300,000, knowing that we are not going to grow back again? The Army Reserve and the guard both contribute to that with capabilities,” Hodges said.
A tangible example of the benefit to the overall USAREUR mission by U.S. Army Reserve Soldiers is highlighted in the involvement of the U.S. Army Reserve movement control teams, who help move equipment, personnel, and supplies all throughout the European area of operation.
A decrease in available active duty movement control teams has created a need for U.S. Army Reserve Soldiers to fill those positions for mission success.
“Without that we would not be able to move around Europe and we would not be nearly as responsive as we are,” Hodges said.
The effective capabilities stretch beyond the hands-on effect the U.S. Army Reserve Soldiers provide to the region, but to how they push the command message to the world.
“When the president of the United States, in response to the Russian invasion of Ukraine and illegal annexation of Crimea, decided to put paratroopers from the 173rd Airborne Brigade into Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, and Poland, he did that to send a strategic message,” Hodges said.
“Putting the paratroopers there was one thing, but if no one knows about it then you don't get any strategic effect, and U.S. Army Reserve public affairs detachments were mobilized to join these companies we had in each country to help tell that story, and provide that strategic effect,” Hodges said. “Without U.S Army Reserve Public Affairs Soldiers it would be like the proverbial tree falling in the forest.”
While Hodges attest to the many benefits the U.S. Army Reserve provides to USAREUR, the same can be said for what USAEUR provides to U.S. Army Reserve Soldiers.
“I think we have the best leadership lab in the Army,” Hodges said. “One way that we are doing this is by putting more and more responsibility on young leaders.”
According to Hodges, Soldier development is a strong factor that helps the U.S. Army stay a ready and reliable force, and the mutually beneficial relationship of the USAREUR and U.S. Army Reserve Soldiers encourage growth.
“It's normal that the senior U.S. Army commander in an East European country is a captain, a troop commander, battery commander, or aviation commander,” Hodges said. “We have convoys moving up and down the eastern flank of NATO with logisticians, and it's typically a noncommissioned officer or very junior officer that is a senior person in-charge of that element.
“Our Army Reserve Soldiers are in that exact same environment, so you have junior leaders, noncommissioned officers, that have a lot of responsibility for accomplishment of the mission, safety, maintenance, and I can't imagine a better leadership lab than what's going on in U.S. Army Europe,” Hodges said.
The relevancy of the mission provides depth to the training being conducted, and provides a platform for possible real-world scenarios.
“When we fight, if we have to go to war or conduct operations, it's not going to happen in Texas, or Florida, or North Carolina, it's going to happen somewhere else, so everything that we are doing is in a complex environment, with allies, different cultures and that's everyday life in U.S. Army Europe,” Hodges said.
“I can't imagine a better preparation than that,” Hodges said.
Hodges sees the value in the U.S. Army Reserve presence in Europe, and he is not the only one.
“Our allies are envious of the reserve component of the United States Army,” Hodges said. “They see how we depend on and benefit from U.S. Army Reserve Soldiers, U.S. Army National Guard Soldiers, and they see what we get from that,” Hodges said.
“The British Army, for example, is working very hard on creating that same sort of capability to help them maintain capacity in the same affordable way,” Hodges said.
As a force that is globally engaged, with a footprint and AREC's in every major regional command, the U. S. Army Reserve continues to support the missions presented to them, utilizing the unique capabilities of the entire force.
“Most European [militaries] have some sort of reserve component, but its nothing that has the capability like we have,” Hodges said. “That’s something I'm very proud of, how our U.S. Army Reserve Soldiers provide a great model for our allies.”