By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Sean Furey, U.S. Naval Forces Central Command Public Affairs
U.S. 5th Fleet Area of Operations (NNS) -- For the past 100 years Reserve Sailors have served as a critical part of our Navy, providing a surge force in the event of a crisis, acting as a reliable source to augment existing staff for major exercises and operations.
Together, Reserve and active duty Sailors are fully integrated, truly representing a one team one fight spirit. There's never a better time to recognize the need for Reservist in our force than now, the Navy Reserve Centennial celebration.
The United States Navy Reserve, established March 3, 1915, was originally the effort of former Secretary of the Navy Josephus Daniels and his assistant Franklin D. Roosevelt. That same year, the 1915 Naval Appropriations Act created the Navy Reserve.
By the end of World War I, nearly 60,000 Reserve Sailors had been mobilized and through World War II, Korea, Vietnam and the Gulf Wars, the Navy Reserve has continued to answer every call. In fact more than 65,000 Reserve Sailors have been mobilized since 9/11.
Here in the U.S. Naval Forces Central Command (NAVCENT) area of operations (AOO), individual Reserve Sailors, Reserve unit commanding officers, operational support officers and Navy Operation Support Centers all work together with supporting units to determine mission requirements to better match manpower resources with availability, allowing Reserve Sailors to integrate seamlessly with active duty components.
"The active duty side of NAVCENT sets the Reserve requirements and has always been extremely involved in doing so," said Capt. Samual D. Pontier, NAVCENT, operational support officer. "This ensures Reservists are gainfully employed when they come here to the area of operations and are properly trained in the positions that needs to be filled, which ultimately ensures the mission is accomplished."
Reserve Sailors may serve from only a few weeks a year up to full-time support. This can prove challenging for the individual Sailor due to civilian job and family responsibilities.
"Unique to the Reserves is their civilian job and family, that's often not apparent on the active side," said Rear Adm. Luke M. McCollum, vice commander, NAVCENT. "Every time that I'm with a group of Navy Reservists, I always ask how many of them had to say no to a family obligation to be here. Almost half of them always raise their hand. We try to recognize the families back home when there are short notice call-ups to make sure that they feel like they are part of service."
In an active area like NAVCENT's AOO, continuity is key in achieving the mission. With many active duty Sailors only serving one to two year tours, turnover rate is high which means that information may not get passed to incoming personnel. That is where the nearly 200 reservists in Bahrain and more than 400 total reservists in the AOO come into play.
"The Reserves brings multiple years of continuity to operations in the NAVCENT area of operations," said McCollum. "They are able to come in and provide continuity during times of turnover and they are also able to augment manpower during large exercises like the recently completed International Mine Countermeasures Exercise."
Another advantage that the Reserves add to the fleet is the ability to implement their civilian working knowledge seamlessly into the active duty side of the Navy. Reservists diversify and broaden the ways we do things in our force. In fact, many reservists have graduate-level educations, some are senior executives in a fortune 500 company and some even run their own businesses.
"We, in the Reserve component, are completely indistinguishable from the active duty Sailors. We are embedded in our commands, executing the same duties and responsibilities as our active counterparts," said Capt. Richard Henderson, chief of staff, Task Force - Individual Augmentee. "We are trained military professionals ready to answer the nation's need when called upon. We also bring professional expertise from a wide spectrum of civilian occupations that broadens perspectives in accomplishing the COMUSNAVCENT mission."
Reserve Sailors assist in the U.S. 5th Fleet AOO in many different aspects such as cyber warfare, public affairs support and medical assistance, to name a few. They excel alongside their active duty counterparts.
"We have Reservists who provide highly specialized medical care for joint U.S. service members, Afghan locals and Coalition," said Yeoman Senior Chief Desiree S. Hayes, NAVCENT, CTF-IA senior enlisted leader. "Their good work yielded the highest combat injury survival rate in modern warfare history at 98 percent."
"This is a great time to reflect on the 100 years of contribution from the Navy Reserve," said McCollum. "Even after things settle down in this area, they may escalate in another but we know we are able to deploy and place our Reserve components with active duty forces wherever the fight may need to be held."
The centennial anniversary of the Navy Reserves gives us the opportunity to look back on the accomplishments of the past and reflect on how they have added so much value to our service.