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Published:June 21st, 2007 05:45 EST

Flexibility Encouraged to Promote Reserve-Component Service

By SOP newswire

More flexibility is needed to encourage Guard and Reserve members to better balance their military and civilian obligations as they contribute to the nation’s defense, a senior official told the Commission on the National Guard and Reserves today.

Michael Dominguez, principal deputy under secretary of defense for personnel and readiness, told commission members the Defense Department has come a long way in changing outdated management practices to encourage Guard and Reserve service.

But it’s a delicate balancing act, he noted in his prepared statement. Initiatives that encourage members to leave the service -- educational assistance benefits that kick in after the duty is served, or efforts to reduce the age at which reservists can draw retirement pay, among them -- don’t support force-management goals.

Another consideration is the appearance that benefits offered to Guard and Reserve members might be more attractive than those offered for active-duty members, he said.

Dominguez said the challenges facing the Defense Department are two-fold. As it continues working to transition the reserve components into an operational reserve, it’s also striving to institutionalize a “continuum of service,” he said.

That continuum would allow members to transition routinely and without hitches between the active-duty military, the Guard and Reserve, and Defense Department civil service jobs, Dominguez explained.

To get there, “we need to overcome a system of intersections with stoplights and one-way streets,” he said in his prepared testimony. Replacing them, he said, would be “a system of on-ramps and off-ramps.”

Under such a system, members might be “on the freeway,” as on active duty or as a full-time Defense Department civilian during part of a career, he said. At other times, they might be “cruising along the access road at times” in the Selected Reserve, or “parked in the garage but ready to go” in the Individual Ready Reserve or standby reserve.

“But regardless of personal circumstances that put the individual in that particular lane at that particular time, the system should be able to accommodate movement … consistent with military requirements and as personal circumstances change,” Dominguez said.

Dominquez recommended other initiatives to improve the way reserve-component members are integrated into the total force. Among these are:

-- Increasing the full-time support assigned to reserve-component units to promote readiness in light of increased requirements;

-- Expanding opportunities to receive joint training and qualifications; and

-- Ensuring a robust and competitive compensation package tailored to attracting and retaining high-quality members.

Senior service representatives are slated to address the commission tomorrow.

The independent Commission on the National Guard and Reserves was established under the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2005 to recommend any needed changes in law and policy to ensure that the Guard and Reserves are organized, trained, equipped, compensated and supported to meet U.S. national security requirements.

By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service