MAY 19, 2016, WASHINGTON (Army News Service) – “The Army will fail in its mission if the Army Reserve isn’t ready. That’s why everything we do focuses on readiness,” said Lt. Gen. Jeffrey W. Talley.
He explained that the vast majority of doctors, nurses, lawyers, engineers and logisticians come from the Army Reserve and without that expertise, the Army could not function.
Talley, the 32nd chief of the Army Reserve and 7th commander of U.S. Army Reserve Command, spoke at his final media roundtable in the Pentagon. He retires next month.
After serving in his dual-hatted role for four years, Talley summed up what he thinks are the two most significant recent readiness enhancement achievements for the Reserve, created during his watch: “Plan, Prepare, Provide,” and “Private Public Partnerships,” or P3.
PLAN, PREPARE, PROVIDE
“Plan” refers to the regional alignment of units to Army service component commands and combatant commanders, Talley said. Part of this alignment includes the forward positioning of staff organized into Army Reserve engagement cells, or ARECs and Army Reserve engagement teams, or ARETs.
ARECs support Army service component commands and field Armies. ARETs are smaller elements that help integrate Army Reserve capabilities into combatant commands and corps-level units across all warfighting functions.
The ARECs and ARETs are technical and tactical experts who provide direct staff planning support and reach-back capability on a daily basis across all warfighting functions, he explained. “They’ve been very successful and combatant commanders are very happy with them.”
“Prepare” is how the Army Reserve trains as part of the total Army Force, he said. That means if they’re receiving medical or engineering training in the private sector, it translates to readiness benefits for those same doctors and engineers when in uniform.
“Provide” is the deployment of Army Reserve Soldiers, leaders and units in support of requirements at home and abroad, he said.
In just the last four years, 62,000 reservists have deployed, he said. The Army, as well as the other services, relies on their expertise and the unique capabilities they provide, he added.
Reservists also protect the homeland from natural disasters and military threats, he said.
When people think about a natural disaster, the National Guard is usually what comes to mind, he said. But a large part of the response comes from the Army Reserve, he said.
The Reserve has an aviation component, which can be used for search and rescue, as well as other expertise that provide important on-the-scene assistance — from quartermasters and civil affairs to sustainment and full-spectrum engineering.
In sum, “our Plan, Prepare, Provide readiness model allows us to remain an operational force,” he said.
PRIVATE PUBLIC PARTNERSHIPS
P3 combines training and leadership development reservists get in the Army with technical training they get with their civilian employers in the private sector, be it industry, government, academia or non-profit, he said.
The idea is that their military and civilian training can benefit the bottom line of their civilian employer and the bottom line of the Army — which is readiness, he said. “We get twice the citizen, which is the Army Reserve motto.”
P3 also helps Soldiers and their families find employment or advance their careers in the private sector — about 3,000 thus far, he added.
Talley provided some examples.
The Army Reserve is partnering with financial adviser and motivational speaker Suze Orman, who is now providing Soldiers and their families financial readiness training — pro bono, he said.
Similarly, physical trainer and former actor Tony Horton volunteered his time to give fitness advice to Soldiers and their families, he added.
Cyber operators, employed by Microsoft and Google, put their expertise acquired from those companies to use in the Reserve, he said.
For instance, there was a recent Army cyber exercise at MIT Lincoln Lab in Lexington, Massachusetts, pitting the active component against the Guard and Reserve. “We kicked the stuffing out of the active component guys,” Talley said, explaining that they wrote exceptionally effective code day in and day out at their civilian jobs and are the best and the brightest.
Talley added that the Reserve has no problem recruiting and retaining these and other cyber operators because they don’t have to quit their day jobs and they enjoy the challenge and adventure of being Soldiers, as well as serving. “It’s a good news story for us.”
The Reserve has about 3,600 cyber operators and about 3,500 others who are in support of them, he added.
Besides those three examples, there are many more that could be given, since the Army has 7,000 of these P3 agreements in place — including 20 with Fortune 500 companies as well as small, but innovative start-ups, he said.
“We’re not endorsing those companies and no money or resourcing changes hands,” he said. “We’re finding projects we can do together.”
Talley added that the program has been so successful that Army Under Secretary Patrick J. Murphy wants P3 to be a business model across the entire Army and has made it a priority. The Office of the Secretary of Defense is also “paying attention and trying to mirror it,” he added.
Soldiers, their families and their employers value predictability when it comes to deployments, Talley pointed out.
For the most part, the Reserve has given them that, he said.
Sometimes, however, there are unplanned but important short-notice deployments where not a lot of notice can be given. That’s something the Army Reserve continually works to avoid whenever possible, he said.
The other thing is training, he said. While training provides readiness, that has to be balanced with providing the right amount.
“The next budget that’s going forward has increased the number of training days for funding to the Army Reserve, allowing us to train longer at the National Training Center and CTCs in general,” he said, adding that nothing has yet been funded, but if the funding is available, “this will provide for additional training days for those units nearing their READY year for mobilization — not additional training days for all Army Reserve Soldiers across the board.”
Another big challenge, Talley said, is getting reservists accreditation and certifying training.
He explained that the challenge works both ways. Reserve training is often not accepted by civilian employers and civilian training is sometimes not accepted by the military.
For instance, a cyber operator might have to train for 18 months, but that operator, like those from Google or Microsoft, might already have the required expertise gained from their civilian jobs, he said.
Similar dilemmas occur for truck drivers, medical technicians and others.
The Army Reserve is in the process of fixing those problems, sometimes using its relationships with P3 organizations to do that, particularly non-profits that oversee the credentialing or accreditation process, he said.
LIFE AFTER THE RESERVE
Talley said he looks forward to doing simple things after retiring, such as getting adequate sleep, a lot of physical activity, reading books for leisure and winding down in general from the harried pace at the Pentagon. He also plans to do some vacationing with his wife Linda and some possible volunteer work.
He accepted an initial faculty fellowship at Harvard University and will go up there to do projects as a leadership fellow and a Cabot House Scholar and then when he’s finished with that near end of this year, he said he plans to retire to “warm and sunny Arizona and do a number of things.”
Looking back on his 34 years of Army service, he said he’s had some great civilian jobs and careers, “but the highlight of my professional life has been as a Soldier. It’s the thing I hold in highest esteem. Not necessarily being an officer, but serving with other Soldiers as we try to make a difference in serving a nation. If you ask anyone who served, you’ll find that a common theme.”
Also looking back, Talley said he couldn’t have done the things he’s accomplished “without having a great staff, command teams and my wife Linda. She has done so much for me and for the Army day in and day out during my 34 years in uniform.”