By Debbie Gregory.
As active duty numbers continue to fall, the Army and the Pentagon want the Guard and Reserves combat-ready ASAP.
To that end, the Georgia National Guard’s 48th Infantry Brigade’s 4,200 soldiers are the first of 13 National Guard and Army Reserve units nationwide chosen to test a new role that pairs them with commanders on active-duty who will oversee their training.
The Army is forging similar active-duty partnerships for nine additional National Guard units based in Indiana, Kentucky, Missouri, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Vermont, Washington and Texas, and two Army Reserve units based in North Carolina and Hawaii. The pairings are scheduled to last for at least a three-year test period. The Army says more units may be added after the pilot ends in the fall of 2019.
Every day, thousands of service members devote themselves to protecting freedoms, maintaining peace, providing relief and supporting policy around the globe. The Pentagon hopes this will make the Guard and Reserve troops better prepared to fight overseas at a time when the Army is down by roughly 100,000 full-time soldiers from the height of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Any National Guard units being paired with active-duty commands will remain available for their states’ governors to mobilize in response to natural disasters and other emergencies.
Meanwhile, leaders of the 48th Brigade have already been sharing training reports and planning meetings with the 3rd Infantry. A few additional days may need to be added to the brigade’s training schedule, Neal said, but otherwise he expects few major changes.
“It solidifies the relationships that we’ve already established,” Neal said. “In other words, we’re getting credit for what we’ve already been doing.”