Posted on May 28, 2015
CPT Engineer Officer
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I've heard a lot of rhetoric and have participated and been a part of what is being called the new Army Reserve- the Operational Reserve.

From what I can gather the Operational Reserve means that reserve soldiers can expect to continue to play a greater role in Active Duty rotations, deployments, training missions and the likewise. The social contract we have as soliders/employer's of Reserve component solders gets tossed out and replaced with... one weekend a month, plus distance learning, plus phone calls and e-mails every week and 21-28 day rotations and deployments just as often as A/C counterparts.

so, with all these additional concessions solders and employers are being expected to make will there be an expansion of pay/benefits/entitlements to accommodate our added commitment to align with the A/C force we are being asked to participate with on a "more than strategic reserve level"

some differences to note

- Leave, A/C soliders get 30 days leave +weekends + 3/4 day weekends, if you add up every working day that's (365-weekends (104) holidays (11) safety days (3) -leave (30).. that works out to 217 days per year the regular A/C soldier works) an example of a RC soldier works a regular job M-F with 2 weeks PTO.. that works out to 365-104-10-14 now add in 24 days of weekend drill and you get 261 days of utilization,, why am I saying all this? every time the army puts reservist's on 21/28 day orders we are getting skimped on leave/BAH.. and we better train every single one of those days because the A/C is already watching our utilization. Just remember we do this in our free time and effectively work 50 more days per year than our counterparts.

- OES, No opportunities to go to additional A/C schools have surfaced as a result of this. will there be more opportunities to attend schools to maintain careers?

Retirement- will we get TSP matching? will we get reduced retirement benefit age? the deployment reduction is laughable, if we deploy JUST AS MUCH as A/C why cant we get retirement at 20 YOS? value proposition right now is a rip-off

Computers- will our computers at the reserve centers ever work?

altered drill schedules: will we get latitude to change the structure of BA's to accommodate schedules or expand the IMA program? right now those programs exist but slots are virtually non-existent

Health Care: the army is using us more, shouldn't they take on a bigger portion of the cost-share? they are assuming we carry employer coverage- which we do but the basic coverage remains the same.

VA home loans: why do A/C get a lower funding rate on a VA home loan? is a reservist higher risk? why does that risk margin fall back on me to fund?

AGR: This is the sweetheart deal of the Reserve's but is plagued with poor performers, will this program ever get changed structurally? if we are so good at coordinating with A/C now why cant it be a A/C duty assignment? good AGR can make or break a unit and it's usually the latter.

It seems to me that the only beneficiary of becoming a strategic reserve is the A/C who can use and abuse us at 1/10 the cost.. at the end of the day we are tired.. sick of working weekends and doing training to "check the block" something needs to change in the value proposition to benefit the solider or I would predict a mass exodus in the short term because once you utilize your GI bill and VA benefit there's really no reason to stay.

There are some positives but its a short list

- Veterans' preference when hiring - marginal benefit because promotions are slower

- 2X pay for drill days

- education benefits

and that's it


Thought's on the matter? the reserve has and will continue to have retention concerns- but I think some of the underlying causes of it are pretty evident. It's time the A?C recognizes the R/C mission and expands it but also makes it worthwhile to continue to serve in that capacity and the bottom line is they need to pony up the cash to get the talent to make it possible.
Posted in these groups: United_states_ar_seal.svg Army Reserve
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LTC Scenario Development Team Chief
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Another aspect to look at that hasn't been addressed is the time away from your civilian employment. While government officials, USAR leaders, and the like will tell you that you have things to help you like ESGR but in the long run, if you are continually seeking time off to go fulfill Army Reserve missions, that costs your employer time and money and it will reflect eventually. The only way to offset that would be to offer employees some type of tax credit for higher active reservists. Otherwise, the reservist will have to choose a further career in their part-time Army job? Or committing to one that actually pays the mortgage. Eventually the Reserves will have a hard time meeting retention goals (not like it already doesn't have that problem).
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LTC Strategic Plans and Policy
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COL Scott Harrison - There are no AGR positions for GOs, sir. We have a limited number of active duty tours which fund some full-time GO positions, but the majority of GOs are both part-time and from the TPU community. Agree, however, that many of the GOs have worked themselves into retirement or a position of flexibility within their civilian positions.
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COL Scott Harrison
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Thanks for the correction. My point is that many came from the AGR ranks (may lose the billet once they get promoted) or at the least, many are serving in a near full-time basis as a GO. Having served my time on Army Staff and MEDCOM Staff, it was apparent to me that many AMEDD GOs were serving near full-time on tour or in support of other admin requirements (promotion boards, policy boards, advisory boards, etc.). Rarely did I find a GO, who had the challenges most have with employers because they had advantages (better balance, better income, government job, greater flexibility, etc.) that most do not. Many GO material soldiers leave early in their career because they choose civilian career and/or family over military. This sometimes leave individuals who are not GO material, getting promoted to GO.
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LTC Strategic Plans and Policy
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Maybe that was the case previously, sir --believe the current number who are former AGR is less than 10, and out of 117, that's pretty low. Agree that many good ones leave, however, and there are more GOs who I'm hoping *won't* be the next CAR than I'd like to see be picked up for it!
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MAJ Contracting Officer
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AGR or TPU most GO's spend a significant portion of their time on orders, certainly the GO billet is a high priority and a difficult one to balance with a regular type career. (non DoD, self employed)
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MAJ Contracting Officer
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If you can remember back to 2001 there were still some AC leaders at reserve units. It was horrible. Hence why they created AGR in the first place. The few I knew had no idea what balancing was and considered the entire structure toxic. AC positions in RC slots is a horrible idea that has tried and failed miserably.

In terms of Operational Reserves for the most part the entirety of the operations are key groups that are not available to the AC. Civil Affairs, Theater Engineer Commands, Contracting. It is just too expensive to mobilize reserve units when there are active units at ARFORGEN III siting at home.

If you want healthcare check out Tricare reserve select. (not an option for Federal Civilian Employees) $205.62 a month per family seems like a screaming deal to me.

In terms of VA Home loan you need to qualify there is no difference that I'm aware of between a Reserve and AC loan, it's a veteran loan which qualifies as 90 days on active duty or 6 years in the reserves. http://www.benefits.va.gov/HOMELOANS/purchaseco_eligibility.asp

The reserve retirement is significantly better than the AC payout if you consider the hours put into it. The only benefit to the AC retirement is the collection date, with the reserve the more points you score the bigger your payout. Seems like a square deal to me.

Obvious solution to your gripes is put in an AGR packet.
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MAJ Contracting Officer
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I don't think there is a requirement for continuous 20 years of service, most of the AGR staff retire with 20 active years that are broken into segments. Do you have a cite for continuous years as a active duty requirement?

I certainly agree with the transitioning between the service categories, TPU/IRR/AD should be more transitionable, but I don't think many AC officer's will share that opinion. General Patton even took some time off to study French cavalry techniques and invented a new cavalry sword. There is good precedent and merit to your idea.
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LTC Strategic Plans and Policy
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Couple things: 1) AGR program was implemented in 1979 (http://www.dtic.mil/dtic/tr/fulltext/u2/a561274.pdf) not the early 2000s. AC/RC positions still exist -- they were developed for multiple reasons (e.g., to "round out" AC brigades and the AC folks were present basically to provide quality control and training coordination) and are currently used in First Army to provide a continuous training capability with rapid expandability. Frankly, they are coming back (now referred to as “multi-compo” units) for similar reasons – need access to immediate AC capabilities with additional ramp up capability from the RC that’s already trained up. The 101st, 82d, and XVIII ABC are getting started up now.

2) These posts are confusing 20 years of Active Federal Service and 20 years of service. 20 years AFS = retirement; 20 years of service with a departure would not equal an AC retirement at all (under current rules). I have 18 years of Reserve service, 8 of which are multiple mobilizations & 3 are AGR. When I retire with 20 years AFS, I’ll have almost 30 total years of service. Alternately, I can retire in two years with 20 years of service, 13 of which are AD and provide more points in the retirement payment calculation.
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COL Scott Harrison
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Just an observation on the AGR program. During my 38 years (17.5 AC or ADOS and 20+ TPU), the AGR could be designated into 3 groups. Group 1: Stellar TPU soldiers, who needed a job and applied for AGR. Group 2: AC soldiers who, for whatever reason, were not provided an opportunity to continue their AC career (RIF, promotion pass over, etc.), who transitioned into an AGR billet instead of leaving the Army. Group 3: Substandard soldiers (in addition to those in Group 2) who used the friends and family plan connections to join the AGR (NG primarily).

So, you can tell from the groups that 1 in 3 were considered stellar soldiers, who tended to provide the best support they could. Of the other 2 groups, the folks from the AC to AGR transition had no clue what it was to be TPU because they never served in that manner. Often their perspective was that they were not involved in the Battle Assembly training because their work was more important. So, while the troops were being forced to attend another Consideration of Others, Sexual Assault Prevention, Religion cleansing or minority of the month briefings, the AGR were in their office.

Finally, I believe that we should eliminate the AGR program and instead cross-pollinate between AC and RC. While an AC soldier/officer is attending graduate education or training with industry, they should serve in an RC unit. When an RC soldier/officer has the flexibility to serve a tour of 1 to 3 years, they should fill the traditional AGR billets. AGR should not be a career unto itself but a tour of duty for AC or RC soldiers. If this means an RC officer commands an AC unit or an AC officer commands an RC unit, then fine. The alternative is that everyone is a member of the RC and AC is a tour not a component. This way, we all have the same retirement plan, same regulations, same challenges balancing military service with everything and everyone gets equal opportunity based on skills and ability. No more preferences based on component.
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MAJ Contracting Officer
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COL Scott Harrison My assessment of the AGR Officer Corps is the same, not so much with enlisted but not off base. The ones not selected for AC but couldn't find a civilian job are also plentiful. I certainly agree with dismantling the career AGR and competing for a tour of duty as you mentioned. Preferably I'd love to see USARC dissected and those slots being allocated to AC now Multi Compo Units BN+, companies would be either 1 AC or 2 RC units (RC on a 6 ARFORGEN cycle) essentially bringing RC units into command relationships with their "war trace" units. Systems could certainly handle that today and it would eliminate the dual command structure the Army has today. Too many problems having a USARC that isn't responsible for combat or combat readiness, they only focus on medical readiness and too often sacrifice quality training in exchange.
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SSG Financial Management Technician
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Computers- will our computers at the reserve centers ever work?

Unlikely, G6 pushes updates on a weekly basis. The computers should be left on and plugged into the network to receive these updates. Hopefully your supply sergeant or S6 personnel do not have laptops sitting in a supply cage off the network. It isn't fun to sit down to a laptop and find it has Vista.

Just today, we lost some functionality with Java which interferes with some amount of work. Fortunately, DTS and iPerms is working. Majority of those computers that are on the net will still need those updates. Every time I come to drill, I take nearly two hours to update three computers to ensure that they are operational for the drill while waiting for the help desk to assist with getting computers out of quarentene.

Don't get me started about the network.
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1LT Platoon Leader
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Unfortunately we just lost our AGR XO. He always knew how to get the computers and network working again. Sadly we are stuck with the help desk and the 3 hour wait times.

Also, he told me that the computers (laptops) have to be on the network every 30 days or they will be locked out. That makes it hard to do when we need them to work on reports, ncoers, awards etc. Especially when you have drill on the 1st and 2nd this month then the 30th-31st next month.
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SSG Financial Management Technician
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Sir,

Yes, those computers will be quarantined. You'll need to call the help desk and have them get it out of quarentine. Unfortunately, "your wait time will be approximately over 9,000 minutes. All agents are assisting other customers. " (it is sad that I can not only quote the automated responder but also hum the tune when I'm waiting for the help desk).

Either that or you can ask for authorization to take your laptops home after you sign for them. You just have to maintain network connectivity while using VPN.
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LT Intelligence
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This makes me very greatful that I drill at an active duty site where the computer systems are used and maintained daily.
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