The new training and deployment cycle being introduced Army-wide will bring more predictable deployment schedules for Army Reservists, their employers and their families.
The Army Force Generation model, nicknamed "ARFORGEN," for ensuring there's always a pool of trained, equipped and deployment-ready troops, Army Reserve chief Lt. Gen. Jack Stultz told Pentagon reporters June 21.
The plan, which generally means Army Reservists can expect to deploy for up to a year once every five years, also helps them live up to their dual obligations as "warrior-citizens," Stultz said during a roundtable discussion.
Just one month into the job as the top-ranking Army Reserve general, Stultz understands firsthand these complementary but sometimes conflicting roles. Since joining the Army Reserve in 1979, he's left his family and his longtime employer, Proctor and Gamble, for deployments during Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm in 1990 and 1991; Operation Joint Endeavor in 1997; and Operations Enduring and Iraqi Freedom from 2002 to 2004.
"I understand the issues with soldiers and the employers and the community because I have lived it," he said. "I have had to go through those experiences of what it means to put your civilian life on hold, become a soldier, come back and try to become a civilian again, and back and forth."
The disruption goes beyond the individual soldier. Families have to adapt too, whether it's changing doctors when they move between civilian and military health-care systems, or figuring out who's going to pick up the slack at home when the reservist deploys.
"How is the grass going to get cut? How is the oil in the car going to get changed?" Stultz said. "Those are the kind of things that, a lot of times, you don't think about."
Stultz recognizes that reservists' mobilizations also leave employers in the lurch.
"Employers have been great at providing support" to their reservist employees during their deployments, he said. They often make up the difference between their workers' military and civilian pay, continue to provide benefits during mobilizations and provide services to families of deployed workers.
"What we owe back to them is that predictability model of being able to say, 'If you have an Army Reserve soldier who is an employee, we are going to be able to tell you on a predicable basis how often you can plan on him being gone,'" Stultz said.
The ARFORGEN model will help reservists as well as their families and employers better prepare for deployments. Reservists can return from a deployment and get the individual training they need, escalating the pace and intensity of the training as they move toward the fifth year of the cycle, he explained. After that, they're assessed as "available" for deployments, as needed.
The active Army is implementing the same model, but on a three-year cycle.
Stultz called the model "critical to the future," particularly in light of the Army Reserve's shift from a strategic to an operational force during the global war on terror. About 32,000 Army Reservists are currently mobilized - about 22,000 deployed overseas, mostly to Iraq, Afghanistan and Kuwait, and about 10,000 stateside.
ARFORGEN gives the active Army a better grip on what capabilities within the Army Reserve are immediately deployment-ready and what's in the pipeline, Stultz said.
Reservists can better plan their lives. ARFORGEN "tells the soldier, you can expect to ... have four years of inactive service, and then be deployed for up to a year, and then come back for another four years," Stultz said. "You can build your life around it."