By L. EDGAR PRINA, Editor Emeritus
The Naval Reserve Force (NRF) has been called upon once again to augment the U.S. Navy in time of war. This time it's for the war against terrorism.
A few days after terrorists destroyed the twin towers of the World Trade Center in New York City on 11 September 2001, and slammed a fuel-laden jet airliner into the Pentagon that same tragic morning, President Bush proclaimed a state of national emergency and authorized the secretary of defense to call up the ready reserves of the armed forces.
By year's end, more than 5,400 Naval Reservists had received orders, as individuals, to report to active duty--for law-enforcement and base-security missions primarily, but also for medical, supply, intelligence, and other specialized duties.
Vice Adm. John B. Totushek, commander of the NRF, told his staff, and the overall NRF community, that terrorism is a cancer that could not be excised with one operation.
"It will be surgical, but we will have to go deep and it will take time," he said. "We are in the early stages of mobilization. Individuals, primarily in the force-protection ratings, have been called up. Units will come later, as the need arises."
As an integral part of "One Navy," the NRF has maintained readiness for immediate augmentation of the active-duty Navy. Its key component, the Selected Reserve (SELRES), drills throughout the year and has a strength of just over 71,000--17,000 officers and 54,000 enlisted personnel.
In addition, there are more than 15,000 full-time support Reservists (TARs) on active duty. The Individual Ready Reserve totals 94,000 personnel, the Standby Reserve 7,200, and the Retired Reserve 462,000.
The NRF has two major operational components--the Naval Surface Reserve Force (NSRF) and the Naval Air Reserve Force (NARF). The commanders of these components administer their forces in conjunction with the active-force commanders under whom the Reservists drill and to whom they would immediately report upon mobilization.
The current seagoing assets of the NSRF consist of the following ships: eight guided-missile frigates (FFGs); five Avenger-class mine countermeasures ships (MCMs); 10 Osprey-class coastal minehunter ships (MHCs); one mine countermeasures control ship (USS Inchon); and one landing ship tank (LST).
There are no submarines assigned to the NRF, but more than 4,000 Reservists are on active duty with the fleet submarine forces. They are assigned to tenders, maintenance facilities and drydocks, squadron and group staffs, and fleet submarine control centers. They also serve on various NATO command and control staffs.
The Naval Air Reserve Force (NARF) consists of one carrier air wing of eight squadrons, one seven-squadron maritime patrol wing, one fleet logistics support wing of 14 squadrons, and one helicopter wing of five squadrons. The NARF flies 50 F/A-18 Hornet strike fighters, eight E-2C Hawkeye early warning radar planes; four EA-6B Prowlers for tactical electronic warfare; 45 P-3C Orion land-based maritime patrol aircraft; 26 C-9 Skytrain medium-lift transport aircraft; 20 C-130 Hercules transport aircraft; 23 F-5 Tigers (used for air-to-air adversary training); and five types of helicopters.
Collectively, the ships, aircraft, weapons, and specialty forces of the NRF make it the fourth largest sea power in the world, and one of the most lethal.
Two of the Naval Reserve Force's highest funding priorities remain the same as they have been for several years: the upgrading of aircraft (particularly the F-18) and of information-technology (IT) systems.
A number of the Navy's most critical missions can be accomplished only by Naval Reserve surface and air assets. For example, the NRF provides: all of the Navy's fleet support airlift (people and hardware); all of the service's inshore undersea warfare assets (people and hardware); and 100 percent of its "adversary" flight hours (in which the F-5s simulate enemy aircraft in "combat" exercises against fleet aviators preparing for deployment).
In addition, the NRF provides 99 percent of the Navy's control of shipping assets (personnel); 93 percent of all its cargo-handling capabilities (people and hardware); 100 percent of its embarked naval advisory teams; 53 percent of its intelligence-mission capabilities (people); and 40 percent of all of the Navy's fleet hospital resources (people and facilities).
Among the most essential combat-support units in the Naval Reserve Force are four fleet hospitals, four EOD (explosive ordnance disposal) mobile units, and nine harbor defense commands.
The NRF and the active-duty Navy traditionally share two major manpower concerns: recruitment and retention. The NRF has not attained SELRES enlisted end strength for the last two years. The overall goal for the end of fiscal year 2001 was 86,000 personnel (including TARs).
But with the war on terrorism still in its early stages, recruitment may trend upward, perhaps substantially, as it already did for the active forces in the first three months of the war against terrorism. President Bush presumably could solve the retention problem by ordering extended tours of duty "for the duration." Here, too, the problem might solve itself. Early indicators suggested (as of late December) not only that more personnel are volunteering for recall but also are willing to stay longer on active duty. Time will tell.
The NRF is proud to point out that the Naval Reserve provides 19 percent of the total "One-Navy" force, but costs only 3 percent of the total Navy budget (for fiscal 2001).
Marine Corps Reserve
The Marine Forces Reserve (MFR), like its Navy and Coast Guard counterparts, has responded vigorously to the commander in chief's order to augment the active-duty regulars for the war on terrorism.
As of the middle of December, more than 1,100 Marine Reservists had been mobilized for duty in the war--which was declared by President Bush after hijacked jet airliners slammed into the Pentagon and the twin towers of the World Trade Center in New York City on 11 September 2001.
The first three MFR units to be called up were the following: 97 members of B Company minus 1st Battalion, 23rd Marines, out of Bossier City, La.; Detachment Alpha I, Marine Expeditionary Force Augmentation Command Element, 75 personnel; and Detachment Alpha, 3rd Civil Affairs Group (10 personnel). Both of the latter units are from Camp Pendleton, Calif.
The 928 individual Reservists who also received orders--those possessing job specialties across a broad spectrum--have been assigned to various Marine Corps commands, bases, and other facilities throughout the United States.
Under President Bush's partial mobilization order, Reservists from any of the services may be required to serve for no longer than 24 months. Of course, he could extend service time with a new order, depending upon the need.
Marine Commandant Gen. James L. Jones is on record that his goal is a truly integrated total force of one Corps and one standard that applies to all Marines, whether active or reserve. He made it clear upon his appointment to the Corps' top post that he would be counting on the MFR as an essential component of the Marine Corps in both peace and war. He also noted that 98 percent of all of the Corps' Selected Reserve units are included in current operational plans, and that the MFR contributes regularly, and significantly, to exercises, optempo (operational tempo) relief, and actual operations.
Two examples of the Corps' total-force concept in action: The MFR sent a civil affairs group to Kosovo to relieve the strain on the active-duty forces, and this year will participate in a five-month shipboard deployment around South America in the annual UNITAS series of multinational training exercises and operations sponsored by the U.S. Southern Command.
There also is expected to be a substantial increase in the MFR's C-130 Hercules support operations this fiscal year as the Marines' active aviation squadrons transition to the newest variant of this workhorse aerial tanker and transport aircraft.
The MFR, individuals and units, also will participate this year in a number of major Marine Corps exercises. Following are some of the more significant exercises already scheduled:
1. Marine Air-Ground Task Force (MAGTF) 25 will conduct two combined-arms exercises in the desert environment of Twentynine Palms, Calif.
2. MAGTF 24 will conduct amphibious orientation training in Coronado, Calif., and at Camp Pendleton, Calif.
3. In a combined-arms operation in Hawaii, F/A-18 Hornet strike fighters will support the 3rd Marine Regiment's MAGTF training.
4. Several MFR units will participate in six humanitarian operations in Central and South America--providing engineering, civil affairs, and medical and dental support, primarily.
5. The 4th Combat Engineer Battalion will participate in Cornerstone 2, a multinational "Partnership for Peace" exercise in Bulgaria.
6. A provisional security platoon from the 4th Marine Division will provide optempo relief to the Marine Corps Security Force Battalion at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
7. The 23rd Marine Regiment will provide command and ground-combat elements for the UNITAS goodwill deployment around Latin America.
Lt. Gen. Dennis M. McCarthy, commander of the Marine Forces Reserve, is the first Marine Reservist assigned that responsibility, and only the second to attain three-star rank. Reserve generals also head these major subordinate commands: 4th Marine Division, Maj. Gen. Jack A. Davis; 4th Marine Air Wing, Maj. Gen. John W. Bergman; and 4th Service Support Group, Brig. Gen. Cornell A. Wilson Jr.--Maj. Gen. Kevin B. Kuklok is assistant deputy commandant for plans, policy, and operations.
The fiscal year 2002 end strength for the MFR's Selected Reserve has been set at 39,558 Marines, with the air component at 2,261, and the ground units at 32,860. The Corps' IRR (Individual Ready Reserve) strength is pegged at 59,064, and the Retired Reserve at 5,005. The MFR budget for FY 2002 includes $463.3 million for personnel and $144 million for operations and maintenance.
Three major missions have been assigned to the Marine Forces Reserve:
1. To augment and reinforce the regular component during crises and national emergencies;
2. To provide peacetime operational tempo and personnel tempo relief for the regular units; and
3. To tell the Marine Corps story to the American people by being "twice the citizen" in their local communities.
On the home front, Marine Reservists provide community service in many forms. Perhaps the best known is the heralded "Toys for Tots" program, which, during the 2000 holiday season, distributed 15.8 million toys to 6.3 million children.
(For additional information see the MFR website: www.mfr.usmc.mil)
Coast Guard Reserve
The "Always Ready" men and women of the Coast Guard Reserve were the first members of any of the nation's Guard and Reserve components to be called to active duty in the wake of the terrorist attacks on 11 September 2001. Within hours after the attacks, Secretary of Transportation Norman Mineta authorized the recall of Coast Guard Selected Reserve (SELRES) personnel to provide enhanced port-security and waterways and ship protection in seaports throughout the United States.
As of 1 November 2001, 2,450 Coast Guard Reservists had been mobilized, and others expected to be recalled as and when needed.
The Coast Guard Reserve's mission is to provide qualified personnel to assist the active-duty force in meeting its national-defense responsibilities and to respond to domestic emergencies. Most Coast Guard Reservists are assigned to the same active-component commands to which they report upon mobilization.
The Coast Guard's Port Security Units (PSUs) are staffed almost exclusively by Reservists. They support regional commanders in chief (CINCs) by providing force protection for ships and other high-value assets in critical ports of debarkation. Currently, there are six such units in place: PSU 305 in Fort Eustis, Va.; PSU 307 in St. Petersburg, Fla.; PSU 308 in Gulfport, Miss.; PSU 309 in Port Clinton, Ohio; PSU 311 in San Pedro, Calif.; and PSU 313 in Tacoma, Wash. The PSUs operate Transportable Port Security Boats (TPSBs), rapidly deployable 25-foot craft armed with .5 caliber and 7.62 mm machine guns.
An earlier response to another terrorist attack--the surprise bombing in Yemen that seriously damaged the Navy's Aegis guided-missile destroyer USS Cole and killed 17 of her crew--saw PSU boats and personnel deployed to the Arabian Gulf region to provide force protection for American ships in the area.
Reservists continue to perform a major role in many of the Coast Guard's peacetime missions, serving alongside active-duty personnel aboard cutters and at air stations, and in maritime safety offices and other shore facilities.
Since the 1980s, Reservists have performed the bulk of the Coast Guard work enforcing security zones for space shuttle operations in Florida. In addition, 65 percent of all Coast Guard personnel employed in the massive cleanup following the Exxon Valdez oil spill in 1990 were Reservists.
Coast Guard Reservists also have taken a leading role in preventing marine pollution. Sea Partners, a Reserve program sponsored by the Coast Guard, seeks to educate the public about marine pollution issues and to improve compliance with marine environmental-protection laws and regulations.
Under the Sea Partners program, teams of Reservists are assigned to each of the 44 Coast Guard Marine Safety Offices around the country. Last year, these Reservists coordinated various beach and shore cleanups.
A new era for the Coast Guard Reserve began in 1994-95 when all Reserve units were disestablished and the Selected Reserves were integrated directly into the service's active-component commands. "Team Coast Guard" encompasses all elements of the multimission service--active-duty and reserve personnel, civil servants, and members of the Coast Guard Auxiliary.
But Adm. James M. Loy, the Coast Guard commandant, is not entirely happy with things as they are and has ordered a comprehensive update of Reserve force capabilities and requirements. As a Coast Guard paper explains: "Although the Coast Guard increasingly relies on Reservists for routine and safe operations, the Coast Guard lacks a clearly defined priority for wartime and national emergency requirements, domestic emergency augmentation, daily augmentation, and mission-critical augmentation."
Cognizant of and following up on a 1997 OMB (Office of Management and Budget) study that identified a Coast Guard need for roughly 12,000 Selected Reservists, the Loy review seeks to evaluate and analyze current military and civil mission-planning assumptions and, from the data developed, to determine a credible net Reserve force-structure requirement.
"The study group also plans to analyze the Coast Guard's contingency planning process, identify gaps, and recommend improvements," the paper said, "that will assure reliable, credible and periodic generation and refinement of Coast Guard force requirements."