Reserve, National Guard have key role with rest of Army in winning wars, general says

FORT BENNING, Ga. – During the 2019 Maneuver Warfighter Conference here Sept. 12 at McGinnis-Wickam Hall, Lt. Gen. Thomas S. James, Jr., commanding general, 1st Army, discusses the Army’s ongoing efforts at transitioning its reserve component forces – the Army Reserve and National Guard – into an operational force. Hosted by Fort Benning’s Maneuver Center of Excellence, the conference runs Sept. 10-12 and brings together military professionals and other experts for a close look at issues, ideas and trends related to the Army’s maneuver force. (U.S. Army photo by Markeith Horace, Fort Benning Maneuver Center of Excellence, Fort Benning Public Affairs)
September 12, 2019

A battle-ready National Guard and Reserve are crucial to the nation’s ability to fight and win wars, and the Army is working to keep those forces well-honed and ready to deploy with their active-duty counterparts, a senior military officer said here Sept. 12.

Lt. Gen. Thomas S. James, Jr., commanding general, 1st Army, made the remarks during a presentation in McGinnis-Wickam Hall on the final day of the 2019 Maneuver Warfighter Conference, which began Sept. 10.

James heads the 1st Army’s Task Force Deed, which oversees the effort to transition the Army’s National Guard and Reserve into a well-integrated fighting force that can be deployed to war along with the Army’s active-duty forces. The Army calls that concept its Total Force Policy.

“We have never won a war without the Guard and the Reserve and we will never win one without it,” said Jones.

Among keys to positioning the Guard and Reserve for that total force role is ensuring they are properly trained, equipped, led and otherwise supported, said James.

Task Force Deed conducts numerous exercises and assessments through the year to give the forces that needed edge.

“We are in this fight together. We are in the readiness generating and mobilization arena.”

Also as part of meeting that mission, Task Force Deed partners closely with units and commands across the nation, geographically and in other ways linked to best support any wartime mobilization of the Guard and Reserve that may arise, said James.

“We’re spread all over the country,” he said.

“We look at it holistically, as a mission,” he said. “I look at it in terms of forming the partnerships, then generating readiness, and then mobilizing. That is the continuum that exists and how we operate.”

Also important to ensuring the Guard and Reserve are ready for their total force role is paying attention to the fact that Guard and Reserve have civilian employers, and thus building predictability into their military service, James said.

The troops serve out of a passion for protecting the nation, he said.

“But they also have a civilian job and a civilian employer that has demands on that family and on that Soldier,” he said. “So we have to understand that and we have to be really predictable.”

James encouraged young officers and noncommissioned officers to explore career possibilities with Task Force Deed, which he said, had many opportunities for professional development and advancement.

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