The Officer May/June 2012 : Page 42

eport r y Securit al NatioN moment in the history of the Reserves, which may otherwise revert more to its traditional role as a strategic reserve through its marginalization and the attenuation of hard-earned and irrecoverable knowledge and skills—if nothing else is done soon enough. Moreover, a remarkable whole-of-nation capability would have been squandered, portending the loss of a strategic opportunity the United States can ill afford let slip away.  Te author is a civil-military strategist, peace operations consultant, and a senior associate with the Project on National Security Reform. New era for reserve forces Policy Board By Robert Feidler Te Reserve Forces Policy Board (RFPB), the senior board at the Pentagon, has been an independent voice on behalf of the Reserve Component for 60 years. Created by Congress in 1952, the board has benefitted from the voices of outstanding members from the ranks of Department of Defense (DoD) civilians and the Active and Reserve Component. It has also had the leadership of a series of dedicated chairmen who were exceptional men of achievement both in their military and civilian lives. Last year, the National Defense Authorization Act of 2011 made a quantum leap in assuring the independence, diversity, and value of the board. Tat law specifically provides that the purpose of the board is to “serve as an independent adviser to the secretary of defense to provide advice and recommendations to the Secretary on strategies, policies, and practices designed to improve and enhance the capabilities, efficiency and effectiveness of the Reserve Components” (Section 10301, Title 10, U.S. Code). Under its previous charter, the board “reported through” the assistant secretary of defense for reserve affairs who, as a result of the Goldwater–Nichols Act, also served as an adviser to the secretary of defense on Reserve Component issues. Early in the past decade, this led to conflict between these entities and restricted the independence of the board. Nominees, including the chairman, were not approved in a timely manner, funds were restricted, and staffing levels decreased. In 2008, the Commission on the National Guard and Reserves (CNGR) recommended that the board be restructured and relocated within the DoD. Te old board had a civilian chairman, but all other members came from among the Reserve Components (two 42 the apiece), regular officers, or DoD civilian leaders. Te CNGR recommended that all military representation be eliminated and that the board be made up essentially of people from civilian life exclusively. Teir model may have been other DoD entities such as the Defense Policy Board or the Defense Science Board. ROA did not favor the elimination of the Reserve Component members. Its Roles and Missions Committee addressed this topic and recommended retention of the Reserve Component members while also suggesting civilian representatives. In 2008, ROA, in partnership with the National Guard Association of the United States, convened a meeting at ROA headquarters at which the serving RFPB chairman, four former RFPB chairs, former members of the board, former military executives and senior staff, as well as congressional staff, and a former deputy secretary of defense met to discuss the future of the RFPB and to make recommendations. Teir work resulted in a series of recommendations that were transmitted to the secretary of defense and other leading DoD officials within four days of the meeting. Among these recommendations were a call for a repositioning within DoD of the RFPB so that it did not report through the assistant secretary of defense (Reserve Affairs); that it be an independent voice; that there be maintenance of Reserve Component representation with no objection to additional civilian representation; and that the annual report should continue to go to the president and Congress. Tese later became the foundation for a recommendation by then–Undersecretary for Personnel and Readiness David Chu to then–Secretary of Defense Robert Gates to form and authorize the board largely O fficer / M ay –J une 2012

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