Deborah Lee James

WASHINGTON: Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James warned Congress today that its effort to stop the retirement of the A-10 Warthog and other aircraft could hurt the service’s modernization plans. In a speech before the National Aeronautic Association, James noted the service wants “to transfer and divest some older aircraft in order to free up… Keep reading →

An Army reservist conducts medical training.

AUSA: Even as the first wave of 4,000 Army regulars deploys to West Africa, the service’s mobilization command is preparing for a possible call-up of Reserve and National Guard troops to replace them in six months, Lt. Gen. Michael Tucker told me today. “There are no orders yet,” the First Army commander cautioned, just precautionary… Keep reading →


WASHINGTON: Last year, the US Air Force fell face-first onto a buzzsaw when it proposed dramatic cuts to the Air National Guard, whose supporters raised a storm of protest in the Congress. Now there are signs that the next big budget battle will be between the regular active-duty Army and the Army National Guard. Or,… Keep reading →

WASHINGTON: As the military plans to cut thousands of troops and the military experiments with opening combat training to women, the American Civil Liberties Union has joined four female servicemembers — two in the reserves (one Army, one Marine Corps), one in the Air National Guard, and one on active duty in the Marines — in a lawsuit filed in Northern California aimed at prying open all combat posts to women.

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While the active-duty Air Force and the National Guard are at odds over budget cuts in Washington, the relationship seems smoother at Florida’s Eglin Air Force Base, where an Air National Guard officer assigned the an active-duty 33rd Fighter Wing became the first Guard pilot to fly the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, the controversial product of the Pentagon’s biggest procurement program. Keep reading →

WASHINGTON: The military Reserves and National Guard have spent a decade operating with unprecedented intensity alongside the regular active-duty force in Afghanistan and Iraq. Now, as budget cuts loom, their leaders are fighting hard to keep the funding needed to keep their edge in both training and equipment. Going back to the sleepy days of “weekend warriors” rehearsing with hand-me-down hardware is not an option, they argued: The nation needs them ready, and a new generation of Guard and Reserve troops accustomed to real-world operations won’t accept anything less. Keep reading →

WASHINGTON: The chairman of the Reserve Forces Policy Board sees this as “the golden age of the reserve component” as the active land forces and three components of the Air Force draw down personnel and the Defense Department’s new strategic guidance calls for maintaining a reserve component that is ready and available when needed. Arnold Punaro, who also chaired the congressionally-created Commission on the National Guard and Reserve, said the reserve components were a “true bargain for the taxpayer,” but warned attendees at a Washington conference that they needed “to think smarter, not richer” when looking at maintaining operational readiness. Speaking Jan. 31, Punaro added that the Defense Department through the policy board is trying to determine the true cost of the reserve components versus active. He said the commission’s earlier study found the reserve components were 70 to 75 percent less expensive than the active component. The retired Marine Corps Reserve major general also said that mobilized reservists were less expensive than their active counterparts because they are not drawing on the department’s infrastructure – housing, schools, child care centers, etc. “We’ve go to get at the bottom line” in determining actual costs, he said.

Vice Adm. Dirk Debbink, chief of the Navy Reserve, said as promising as the future may appear for his 64,000 officers and sailors that what was critical to know “what the Navy will value in the future … capability by capability.”

Punaro, also a former staff member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, advised the reserve component chiefs to find ways to better recruit service members leaving active service. “Make it transition, not separation” from active military service. Keep reading →

With the regular Army shedding personnel to fit in ever-tighter budgets, the U.S. Army Reserve is positioning itself as a low-cost way to keep skilled, experienced veterans associated with the military. The plan, in a nutshell: If you can’t keep ’em in the regular Army, keep ’em in the Reserves.

Today, only 9 percent of enlisted personnel and 13 percent of officers who leave active duty sign up with the Army Reserve. To make reserve service more appealing will require changes to military regulation and even federal law, changes among the Army Reserve’s top priorities for 2012. Keep reading →