FEBRUARY 17, 2015, NAPLES, Italy (NNS) – In 2015 the U.S. Navy Reserve will be 100 years old. Designed to “deliver strategic depth and operational capability to the Navy, Marine Corps, and Joint Forces in times of peace or war”, the Navy Reserve has provided support in areas from healthcare to special warfare and everything in between.
First created in response to the outbreak of World War I, and through the efforts of then Secretary of the Navy Josephus Daniels and his assistant, Franklin D. Roosevelt, legislation for the creation of the Naval Reserve Force was passed on March 3, 1915. Since that time, reservists have served in every major war in which the United States has fought.
As of December 2014, 107,687 reservists were serving as either the Selected Reserve (SELRES), or Individual Ready Reserve (IRR) Sailors, providing vital naval warfighting and operational capabilities in myriad roles. SELRES, the largest and most relied upon of the Ready Reserve, consists of drilling reservists and Full-Time Support (FTS) reservists. Drilling reservists are reservists who typically fulfill a service commitment of one weekend a month and two weeks a year of drilling and training. They are available for recall to active duty status and represent the Navy’s primary source of immediate manpower.
FTS reservists serve full-time active duty service relating to the training and administration of the Navy Reserve program. They are assigned to shore installations or operational units.
IRR reservists are composed of former active duty or reserve military personnel. Though they typically receive no pay and are not obligated to drill, conduct annual training, or participate in any military activities, IRR personnel retain their status as uniformed military personnel. They retain their military specialty (i.e. rate) and rank, and receive benefits like entitlement to a military ID card, or NEX and commissary benefits.
Today, reservists assigned to Navy Region Europe, Africa, Southwest Asia (CNREURAFSWA) contribute and help drive the command’s mission to provide efficient and effective shore service support to U.S. and allied forces in the Europe, Africa and Southwest Asia area of responsibility.
Approximately 400 reservists from 20 different units spread throughout the United States are assigned to CNREURAFSWA. Separated into boat support units (BSU), naval security force (NSF) units and regional units, the reserve unit locations stretch as far west as Las Vegas to as far east as Long Island, New York, as far south as Corpus Christi, Texas to as far north as Minneapolis, Minnesota.
Reservists from these Navy Operational Support Centers (NOSC) are assigned to all the installations that comprise CNREURAFSWA, with the exception of Camp Lemonnier, Djibouti (CLDJ) and Naval Support Facility (NSF) Deveselu, Romania, which has not been officially commissioned.
“The NSF units are security units, mostly made up of master-at-arms,” explained Regional Operational Support Officer Lt. Cmdr. Micah Weller. “They are dedicated units that can be brought in if there was an increase in the force protection condition (FPCON) level. The BSUs focus on port and air operations, so that would mean boatswain’s mates, operations specialists, aviation boatswain’s mates (handling), aviation boatswain’s mates (fuels) for example. They also provide Department of Defense (DOD) firefighters and our Regional Operations Center (ROC) is augmented from those units.”
These service members are essential to the CNREURAFSWA mission. The ROC unit’s mission is emergency response and watch standing, as well as conducting the exercises necessary to ensure base personnel are prepared in case of an emergency.
Weller added that the Operational Support Office does a good job of certifying that the focus is on finding those billets that aren’t manned or locating areas where a command needs support and finding the right reservist or reservists to step in and provide that support and expertise.
Most importantly, though, he says due to the training they receive both from the military and from the civilian sector, reservists arrive ready to contribute.
“The training prepares them to be that support,” Weller said. “For example, master-at-arms conduct all their gun training in the states, so they arrive prepared to augment and support immediately. However, reservists bring a unique set of added skills gained from their civilian jobs. For example, an information systems technician will have his training from the Navy, but after he transferred to the reserves, maybe he worked at a place like Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command (SPAWAR) and gained this whole different perspective and set of skills.”
On any particular day, 25 percent of the Navy Reserve is delivering global operational support to the fleet and combat forces. The unique perspective and extensive training has and continues to make them an essential element of the U.S. Navy. On March 3, when the organization celebrates 100 years of dedicated service and sacrifice, reservists can be proud of their heritage and that they carry on a legacy of service with distinction both during peacetime and in times of war, and that they contribute significantly to the Navy’s overall mission to maintain, train and equip forces capable of winning wars, deterring acts of aggression and engendering and sustaining freedom of the seas.