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NEWS | Feb. 3, 2016

ARECs ensure US Army Reserve is engaged on the world stage

By Brian Godette U.S. Army Reserve Command

FORT BRAGG, N.C. - What does it mean to have a U.S. Army Reserve force, globally engaged, impacting the far reaches of the world?

The answer starts with Army Reserve Engagement Cells and Teams. ARECs are technical and tactical experts who provide direct staff planning support to Army Service Component Commands and Field Armies. ARETs are smaller elements that help integrate U.S. Army Reserve capabilities in Combatant Command and Corps-level plans across warfighting functions.

Brigadier generals serve as AREC directors representing six of the nine ASCCs in the Army — U.S. Army Africa, U.S. Army Central, U.S. Army Europe, U.S. Army North, U.S. Army Pacific, and U.S. Army South. On Jan. 7 and 8, AREC/ARET leaders met for a strategic huddle at the U.S. Army Reserve Command headquarters to discuss and plan the way ahead in serving the needs of the ASCC commanders and combatant commanders around the world.

“We represent the U.S.  Army Reserve and we tell our story (to combatant commanders),” said Brig. Gen. Richard John Torres, AREC Director, U.S. Army South.

The director huddle brought together the minds of leaders who have made it their career to be at the forefront of U.S. Army Reserve initiatives, which ultimately play a part in the U.S. Army Total Force.

“The average active duty Soldier is an expert at being an active duty Soldier, but very few of them know much about the U.S. Army Reserve,” said Brig. Gen. Phil Jolly, AREC director, U.S. Army Europe. “That’s where we come in.

“We provide the subject matter expertise to explain to them what we can and cannot do with the Army reserve assets, where we can help them.  We’re advisers, not only helping them identify opportunities where we can put reserve assets into the fight but also how to request those assets,” Jolly said.

The opportunity for the AREC leaders to have the huddle at USARC headquarters proved to be a beneficial add-on for everyone there.

“Given that we are doing it here at USARC, with the USARC staff here and available and briefing, it’s an opportunity to raise these issues to give them an update on how our AREC is organized, how it’s being implemented. That is valuable to them in how they support us in the future,” Torres said.

For two days, the teams exchanged strategies, highlighted achievements, discussed proposals and attentively listened to the insight of their global partners.

“It’s a sharing of best practices that helps us be more effective and efficient in how we bring Army Reserve capabilities to be used and implemented,” Torres said.

“It’s reassuring to me when I can raise issues that I’m seeing in my area of operation that some of them (other AREC directors) might see similar issues, and may be approaching them in a different way, which helps me to resolve my problem,” Torres said.

A visit at USARC headquarters with Lt. Gen. Ben Hodges, commanding general, U.S. Army Europe, one month prior to the huddle, introduced new audiences to the unique capabilities the AREC in his area of operation and the impact on his command’s mission.

Introducing more of the AREC directors and the capabilities they provide to their specific area of operation only seemed appropriate.

The war on terror marked the inclusion of thousands of U.S. Army Reserve forces over the span of several continents in an effort to provide support and fight in the war during the 21st century — and U.S. Army Central, or USARCENT, has had an important role to play.

“A lot of us know about U.S. Army Central because it has been in the fight — engaged overseas in some specific areas, under specific named operations since 2001,” said Brig. Gen. Robert A. Karmazin, AREC Director, USARCENT.

“We are a conduit and focal point for the reserve forces with reach-back capability for our regionally-aligned forces that support this command,” Karmazin said.

“For the last 14 and a half years we have been heavily engaged in support of the Army component for the region,” Karmazin said.

The viewpoint from a horizon in another region provided another aspect of ARECs, with similar functions.

“Our AREC is part of the African Horizon strategy for our command, which encompasses all the operations and exercises that our command performs,” said Brig. Gen. Kenneth Moore, deputy commanding general, AREC director, U.S. Army Africa.

“The Army Reserve Engagement Cell better integrates the Army Reserve in to their training, operations, and theater security cooperation activities on the continent of Africa,” Moore said.

The support role the U.S. Army provides in Africa does not go unnoticed. Key roles, performed by Soldiers with different military occupational specialties add to the operations of an entire command.

“The U.S. Army Reserve brings valuable and critical enablers to Africa,” Moore said. “There aren’t too many combat operations going on in Africa right now, and the requirements are really for the enabling forces- the civil affairs, the medical, the signal, the engineer, the military police capability- are critical enablers important to our command.

“Going forward the AREC will be fully manned in March 2016, and we are only 10 months in to our organizational capability. I’m looking forward to seeing what we can really do to better integrate the U.S. Army Reserve into our command’s activities,” Moore said.

A keen example of the U.S. Army Reserve being integrated into a command’s activities would be the current international picture in Europe.

“USAREUR is in a unique fight,” Jolly said. “We have Russia’s aggressive posturing we have to deal with, we have the Syrian (refugee) crisis going on, there’s a lot of concerns in Europe right now.”

Jolly touched upon many of the same points Lt. Gen. Hodges did when praising the U.S. Army Reserve impact on Europe in his discussion a month ago.

“The European command has been pulling assets out of Europe for the last 20 plus years because the Iron Curtain came down, there is no need for us to have forces placed forward,” Jolly said.

“Well now we are inching ever closer to the situation we had back in the 80’s, but we don’t have the active duty forces there anymore, and that’s where the Army Reserve comes into play,” Jolly said. “We are addressing the mission gaps that we have.”

The Soldier development aspect of ARECs shares equal importance to component commands and the U.S. Army Reserve as the support provided to those component commands.

“We have opportunities for junior leader development, we have opportunities for units to go over and get validated, providing units an opportunity to mobilize, go overseas, interact with Germans, and others in a multi-national scenario,” Jolly said. “Getting that interoperability on an international level can’t be replaced.”

The fundamentals of good leadership was exhibited throughout the huddle and highlighted with the actions taken by the different directors and their teams.

“Our Army North AREC supports the NORTHCOM area of operations by identifying the Army Reserve Plan, Prepare, and Provide model and uses that construct,” said Brig. Gen. Peter Bosse, AREC director, U.S. Army North. “We plan for units to participate in exercises, we then prepare them for those exercises, and we provide them for theater security cooperation initiatives as well, all reaching back to receive U.S. Army Reserve capabilities.”

Lt. Gen. Jeffrey W. Talley, chief of the U.S. Army Reserve and commanding general, U.S. Army Reserve Command, boasts that the ARECs are designed as “one-stop” shops, and across the global region, examples of it are fortifying the claim.

“In our Army North area of operations, which is basically the homeland, Canada, and Mexico, without access to U.S. Army Reserve combat support and combat service support capability they wouldn’t be able to do their mission,” Bosse said.

“We provide the depth of those resources that are available and direct access to them through the Army Reserve Engagement Cell at ARNORTH,” he said.

Brig. Gen. Brian E. Alvin, the AREC Director, U.S. Army Pacific, in an earlier interview at the USARC headquarters, described the mission of his AREC — the first fully engaged cell in the U.S. Army Reserve.

“The USARPAC footprint is 36 countries, half the world’s land surface,” Alvin said.

“If you envision from the West Coast of the United States to the western edge of India, that’s the USARPAC area of responsibility.”

Alvin is also dual-hatted as a deputy commanding general and in that role serves as a direct link in his area for the U.S. Army Reserve at civic and military functions.

“I am a direct representation of what the U.S. Army Reserve can do as a Total Force partner,” Alvin said.

“That’s my whole posture. That’s my mindset. I am always thinking. ‘How can the U.S. Army Reserve build more capability and opportunities to plug into that Total Force?’ It all nests in my mind. You walk the walk, talk the talk,” Alvin said.

The global impact of the ARECs are measured by the Citizen-Soldiers who comprise it, filling the gaps when needed, according to Torres.

What it means is U.S. Army Reserve Soldiers are in the midst of the global stage, providing solutions and making a difference in how the Total Force strives for success in its endeavors.