The Army National Guard and Reserve likely will not suffer the budget and personnel cutbacks that are going to be required in the active duty Army.
That was the opinion of two people who should know – Maj. Gen. Bob Livingston, South Carolina’s adjutant general and commander of the S.C. National Guard; and Maj. Gen. Mari Eder, commanding general of the national U.S. Army Reserve Joint and Special Troops Support Command.
“We will have belt-tightening, but nobody is going to lose their jobs,” Livingston said.
Eder, based in Salt Lake City, visited Livingston this week after a visit to Lander University.
“I think we’re going to see an increased reliance in the Guard and Reserve,” she said. “And change in missions, perhaps. A change in opportunities.”
The U.S. Army plans to slash its combat forces by 80,000 soldiers. It will shrink from about 570,000 soldiers today to 490,000 by 2017. Moreover, Army operations will involve more Special Operations Forces that will launch missions from small bases near hot spots around the world.
The Pentagon also has announced another round of base closures and realignments called BRAC. South Carolina’s military communities – Columbia, Sumter, Beaufort and Charleston – already are mobilizing to protect the more than $13 billion in annual economic impact.
In addition to Army cutbacks, the U.S. Air Force plans to cut 10,000 personnel in the next five years. The Marines are slated to shrink forces over five years by 20,000.
But Guard and Reserve numbers should remain “fairly consistent,” Eder said.
Eder’s command provides logistics and professional support for the Army, such as lawyers and public relations specialists. But it may expand some of their missions to meet the Army’s new needs, such as cyber-warriors who comb computers for Internet attacks. Veteran reservists with civilian experience in such areas could do the job as good or better and cheaper than young soldiers who are just learning the job, she said.
“We can make a great business case that we are a great investment,” she said.
Livingston said the same is true for Guard members who perform combat and combat support.
A police officer in South Carolina, for instance, can be a great resource for a police officer in Afghanistan, he said.
“Those civilian skills cross over,” he said.