Army Reserve might need a bigger budget, force chief says

The U.S. Army Reserve needs new budgeting and training practices that reflect the increased deployment tempo the force has settled into over the last decade, Lt. Gen. Jack Stultz said on Wednesday.

Since the onset of the Afghanistan and Iraq wars, the reserve has been “utilitized as an operational force,” but the Army mandates that its “base budgets still be built around a strategic force,” Stultz told reporters at a breakfast in Washington.

Reserve budgets are constructed to give units 39 days of training and drill time each year. But often more training is needed for the kinds of missions the organization’s forces have been asked to perform in Afghanistan, Iraq and other places in recent years, Stultz said.

Senior Army and military leaders “want the Reserve to show up trained and ready,” Stultz said. “We can do that,” but additional training days — and the funds for them — might be required, he added.

Ground units might need up to 14 additional training days, while aviation units might require even more, Stultz said.

It is unclear where the Army might find the funds to pay for more Reserve training. The Pentagon is already working to stave off additional weapons program cuts and troop reductions. The Defense Department recently found $150 billion in internal savings, which helped offset a $78 billion White House-ordered funding reduction over five years.

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Even without paying for additional training, the Reserve soon will face a shortfall. Stultz said its annual budget is around $7 billion, and it gets about $500 million annually from war-spending measures.

When the war-funding bills are no more, Reserve officials will have to look internally for savings.

Stultz sees areas where costs can be cut, including eliminating redundant training requirements, increasing simulator use, altering how vehicles and other equipment are scattered among its units, and possibly harnessing the power of the Internet to allow reserve troops to be trained at home.

Reserve officials are also cutting costs by removing from the service some soldiers at ranks where they are over loaded, like sergeant majors and colonels. 

After the formal end of the Iraq and Afghanistan conflict, the Reserve chief hopes Pentagon officials opt against “putting Reserve forces back on the shelf.” Instead, he will push to have his soldiers go on deployments about three months in duration to do things like training friendly militaries and building schools in underdeveloped nations.

Reserve officials want to establish a deployment schedule in which units are abroad for one year then home for five. Right now, that ratio is typically one year deployed and three at home, Stultz said.

This story was updated at 4:54 p.m.