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NEWS

Army Reserve Leaders Plan Major BRAC Move (Full story)

Story by Melissa Russell
October 25,  2010




Aerial view of the Front of the U.S. Armed Forces Command and U.S. Army Reserve Command Combined Headquarters Construction Project, taken from a U.S. Army, UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter, Aug. 18, 2010.  (Photo)


WASHINGTON — Leaders from across the Army Reserve discussed executing the most complex move the Army Reserve has faced in its 102 years of existence during their semi-annual Senior Leader Conference recently.

In order to comply with the Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) Act of 2005, the Army Reserve will move the U.S. Army Reserve Command (USARC) from Fort McPherson, Ga. to Fort Bragg, N.C.; and its Office of the Chief, Army Reserve (OCAR) from Arlington, Va. to Fort Belvoir, Va.
 
Lt. Gen. Jack Stultz, Chief, Army Reserve and Commander of the U.S. Army Reserve Command (USARC) told his top leaders that the BRAC move provides a singular opportunity to redefine the Army Reserve.
 
“Transformation never stops,” said Stultz, “and the Army Reserve will use the opportunity that BRAC provides to better position our forces to support current operations, and to decentralize some of the functions typically managed at headquarters.” 

 “We’re implementing the Army’s enterprise approach within our staff, managing personnel and logistics issues at the lowest possible level of organization,” Stultz said.  “By regulation and policy some functions must be handled at headquarters level, but there are many management issues that can be decentralized to regional and O & F (operational/functional) commands during our BRAC move.”
 
“It may make sense for those commands to retain management of tasks such as certain awards and reassignments,” Stultz added. “The ideal goal is centralized planning and decentralized execution as a way to balance efficiency with more effective support to Soldiers.”

BRAC Background, facts and figures

BRAC 2005 has played a role in the establishment of new commands and units and the realignment of command and control structure. It has also played a key role in supporting the transition of the Army Reserve from a strategic reserve to an operational force.

“Because of BRAC we are constructing 125 new joint and multi-component reserve centers and closing 176 older Army Reserve facilities,” said David Gilbert, Chief of the BRAC Division at the USARC.  “In the years since the law was enacted, we’ve gone from 10 Regional Readiness Commands to four Regional Support Commands to reduce overhead and grow our operating force, and to align our units to better support the Army’s operational needs.” 

The Army Reserve has already acquired 28 of 30 commercial properties to support our units as part of BRAC compliance, Gilbert said.

Another major BRAC move undertaken by the Army Reserve includes moving the 84th Training Command from Fort McCoy, Wis. to Fort Knox, Ky.

While BRAC has provided an impetus for change in the Army and Army Reserve, there are also concurrent transformation efforts.  The Army Reserve has activated eight Sustainment Brigades and five Sustainment Commands as part of the Army’s modularity conversion.

“Even with all that we’ve accomplished to transform the Army Reserve and realign our command and control structure to support an enduring operational Army Reserve,” Stultz said, “The fact is that the bulk of our moves to comply with BRAC will be happening during the next year.  So it’s important that we highlight the continuity of support available to our Soldiers and Families as we execute this complex move.”

Taking Care of Soldiers, civilians and Family Members impacted by BRAC

Now that the BRAC-directed relocation of the Army Reserve Headquarters (USARC and OCAR) is underway in earnest, there is going to be some turbulence in the civilian work force until the process is complete.

“We have been executing strategies to mitigate civilian work force turbulence for some time,” said Kim Meyer, USARC’s deputy human capital officer.  “In fact, USARC anticipated the need for personnel at Fort Bragg and started a training program to bring on 60 new employees about two years ago.  We had a highly successful planning session with Fort Bragg civilian personnel office and feel we are prepared to address all personnel issues related to BRAC.”

No matter where civilian personnel impacted by BRAC are located, and whether they choose to move with a command or not, they can always use the resources of the local or regional installation civilian personnel office, Meyer said.  Also, for information about employment opportunities worldwide, they can visit www.usajobs.gov or www.cpol.army.mil.

“For employees who do relocate, they may receive Permanent Change of Station (PCS) benefits along with relocation services under the DoD National Relocation Program (DNRP),” Meyer said.  “The Army Reserve has authorized a relocation incentive for those employees who relocate, which is 25% of their salary for a one-year service agreement.  Employees must otherwise meet the specific requirements of each program/benefit to be eligible.”

For more information, visit the DNRP website at:  http://www.nab.usace.army.mil/dnrp.htm
“Employees who don’t relocate may receive job placement assistance from the DoD Priority Placement Program (PPP) and the Interagency Career Transition Assistance Plan (ICTAP),” Meyer said.
 
Another resource available to Soldiers and Family members is the Employer Partnership (EP) website (http://www.usar.army.mil/arweb/EPI/Pages/default.aspx) managed by the Employer Partnership Office.

“EPO supports Army Reserve Soldiers and their Families and it supplies employers with valuable and talented employees,” said Lt. Col. Matt Leonard, public affairs officer for EPO.  “We can connect AR Soldiers and Family members impacted by BRAC moves with employment opportunities, wherever they choose to live.”
 
The EP website will be launching a powerful new job search portal online in November 2010 that will offer an increased capability to those seeking employment opportunities, and vastly improves the Employer Partner’s access to talent as well.

“The EP program was launched to connect employers to the talent resident in the Army Reserve,” Leonard said.  “The website and its new job search tool will also help those impacted by BRAC.”

Leonard added that Army Reserve civilians impacted by BRAC could also use the website’s job search function.

Installation support and support to Soldiers/Families at remote locations

Some Soldiers may be members of units that are moving from remote Army Reserve facilities to existing installations or new joint bases, which will make all sorts of installation support services available to them and their Family members.
 
“Unit leaders and administrative support personnel can coordinate to relocation support from the Army Community Service (ACS) office at the gaining installation, said Ms Sonia Wriglesworth, Director of Army Reserve Family Programs.  “This will help to facilitate their in-processing, housing, school, and access to community resources during the BRAC move.”

“Another great resource for Soldiers, civilians and Family members impacted by BRAC moves, whether you are on an installation or at a remote location is Army OneSource,” said Col. Jon Dahms, Chief, Public Affairs Division at OCAR.  “This site will not only allow you to gain access to installation support services, it can also help you find help in local communities on a whole host of issues, including dealing with the psychological and emotional stress of the move.”
Access Military OneSource at this link:  http://www.myarmyonesource.com/default.aspx

“We are also standing up additional Army Strong Community Centers whose sole purpose is to connect Soldiers and Families in remote locations with access to support services, including health and medical; child, youth and school services; family assistance; legal assistance and employment assistance,” said Wriglesworth.

“We currently have four centers around the country and plan to stand up more in key remote locations across the United States.”
For more information and for locations of Army Strong Community Centers, visit the Army Reserve Family Programs website and click on the ASCC link on the left:
http://www.arfp.org/skins/ARFP/home.aspx?mode=user

“We’ve been talking about BRAC for a long time now, and over the next year BRAC moves will challenge my headquarters and a good portion of the force,” Stultz said.  "We’ve done the hard work to plan for every eventuality.  We cannot miss a beat in providing ongoing support to our Soldiers and their Families, and ready troops for the warfight.  We are prepared.”



 “I” doesn’t stand for inactive in the IRR    

Story and Photos by Sgt 1st Class Chris Farley 88th Regional Support Command Public Affairs Office.

ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ill. –  Harry Caray, the late Chicago Cubs baseball announcer, was famous for saying “Holy Cow!” in excitement when commentating on baseball games.

One hundred and thirty-eight Chicago-area Individual Ready Reserve (IRR) Soldiers who received an IRR muster invitation in the mail from the U.S. Army Human Resources Command (HRC) in early April probably voiced an homage to Caray: “Holy Cow! I’m going to be deployed.”

 There’s an urban legend about soldiers at musters getting handed deployment orders and same-day plane tickets.The reality is that no one gets bused to the airport from a muster.  A muster is a one-day event for which soldiers get paid about $200. IRR soldiers come in civilian clothes to an Army Reserve Center or Veterans Affairs facility, update their records, and learn about their benefits, including promotion, schooling, health care and civilian job opportunities. They’re home in time for dinner.

 In 2010, HRC will reach out to nearly 36,000 IRR soldiers, considered highly-trained and experienced assets of the U.S. Army Reserve (USAR).  IRR soldiers have already served in an active duty status or actively participated in an Army Reserve unit. Now they’re fulfilling the rest of their Military Service Obligation (MSO) in the IRR. Every soldier who joins the Army has a legal MSO of not less than 6 and not more than 8 years.

 HRC handles the muster program and started conducting musters in 2007. The initial musters focused on making sure the attending soldiers’ personnel records and medical screenings were updated. But during those early musters, said Lt. Col. Craig Smith, the HRC Muster Team Chief, they uncovered a lot of soldiers’ concerns and the musters evolved over time into a mission of outreach as well as records validation.     



 “What we found is you can’t, in good conscience, go out and ask soldiers how they are doing and find out they are not doing real well in a lot of different areas and not do something about it. It gave us the inspiration to start partnering with agencies that could address the concerns the soldiers had,” said Smith.

 The outreach piece of the musters involves bringing in vendors and subject matter experts who can answer questions and provide information on benefits that are either new or went unaddressed during the demobilization process. Musters now resemble a career and education fair with vendor booths set up between muster stations.  Mustering IRR soldiers have the opportunity to meet with Employee Partnership Office representatives as well as staff from Civilian Personnel Advisory Centers to discuss civilian and federal job opportunities. Other venders have included the Defense Commissary Agency, Department of Veterans Affairs, Army and Air Force Exchange Service, Veterans of Foreign Wars, the American Legion, and Military One Source.   

 “Part of the reason why we are here is to make sure that all returning service members participating in the IRR musters are aware the VA is here with them as a veteran, and if they return to active duty, we are here with them when they get back as well,” said Ivy Lloyd, Master of Social Work, and an Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom program manager for the Department of Veterans Affairs. 

 The muster was also a day for recognizing several soldiers for their service. The 88th Regional Support Command (RSC) has developed a program that Smith wants to see replicated by other RSCs supporting musters. The program involves reviewing the list of all attending soldiers and checking their personnel files to see if they were awarded the Welcome Home Warrior Citizen Award after a deployment; and if not, to ensure they are publicly presented with the award at a muster. The presentation includes an encased American flag, a specially-designed commemorative coin and certificate, a lapel pin set for the Soldier and spouse, and a "Welcome Home Warrior-Citizen" flag.

During the Arlington Muster, five IRR soldiers received Welcome Home Warrior Citizen Award: Maj. John Agostini, Bartlett, IL; Cpl Jay L. Mudrak, Racine, WI; Lt. Col. Lisa Moeller, Downers Grove, IL; Sgt. Frank Dillinger, Joliet, IL; and Spc. Steven J. Satterlee, Elgin, IL.

 Brig. Gen. Leslie A. Purser, deputy chief of the Army Reserve, said she observed that some IRR soldiers obviously didn’t want to be there at first. “But once they walked around and saw all the opportunities that were available to them there was more pep in their steps and smiles.” Pfc. Antonio S. Villa from Hammond, Ind. was a supply specialist on active duty for three years and has been in the IRR for two years. Villa said he’s been thinking about transferring to an Army Reserve unit (also known as Troop Program Units, or TPUs) but his girlfriend doesn’t want him to. “She’s worried about me deploying again,” he said.  

 At the muster Villa learned that if he transfers from the IRR into a TPU, he’ll get a two-year mobilization deferment. The same applies to soldiers who go from full-time active duty straight into a TPU.  He also learned that TPU Soldiers qualify for health, dental and life insurance plans.

 If Villa does transfer, he wouldn’t be unique. In 2008, 2,900 IRRs who received muster orders transferred to TPUs. In 2009, 3,335 IRRs who received muster orders transferred to TPUs.  Brig. Gen. William D.R. “Razz” Waff, deputy commanding general of U.S. Army Human Resources Command, said the musters can produce major savings for the Army.

 Waff said that every trained, experienced IRR soldier who transfers to a TPU saves the Army anywhere from $57,000 to $69,400. This dollar amount includes Army recruiting and advertising costs as well as the expense of getting a new recruit through the Military Entrance Processing Station, Basic Training, and on to his or her first unit after Advanced Individual Training.  Since the first IRR muster in 2007, HRC has been transforming the “Holy Cow” moments into opportunities to hear about programs and benefits that will improve the soldier’s quality of life. As the IRR soldiers learned during the Arlington Heights muster, it’s a day well spent.

 

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