The Army Reserve is working to build a force that can deploy on short notice to respond to contingencies when needed, the top general for the component said.
The effort is called Ready Force X, and it is designed to focus on short-term readiness, said Lt. Gen. Charles Luckey, chief of the Army Reserve and commanding general of Army Reserve Command.
Over the past 15 or so years, the Reserve has built readiness over time, in a progressive and rotational manner, he said. If a unit was alerted for a possible mobilization in 2019, he said, those soldiers had several years to work their way through the training required to prepare for the mission.
"Now we're in a situation where we may need to deploy in less time — maybe three months," Luckey said during a Defense Writers Group breakfast Monday in Washington, D.C.
Luckey, who assumed command in June, said units need to be on a relatively high degree of readiness — not just in terms of training, but also manning, individual soldier readiness and modernization.
Much of this work is necessary as threats around the world continue to evolve.
"The Army may be called upon to operate in a environment that is more dangerous and more intense than it has been for some period of years," Luckey said in a separate interview with Army Times shortly after he took command. "The Army Reserve needs to make sure that it's able to be an integral part of that total force, so that's really what I'm working on."
Identifying the types of units and capabilities needed for Ready Force X will be critical for the Reserve.
"We have tended, for all the right reasons, to look at this as a rotational model of building readiness over time and then consuming that readiness in some sort of anticipated deployment or exercise," Luckey said. "While I think that's still a legitimate way of building readiness over time to meet reasonably foreseeable requirements, it may not be, in and of itself, sufficient to have surge capacity in the event that something more expansive is called for."
The Army Reserve is home to many of the Army's critical skills, Luckey said.
"We bring tremendous capabilities and talents at a discount into the Army," he said. "We will continue to look for places to exploit that as we move into the future."
The details of Ready Force X are still being worked out, but the idea is to have the first tranche of formations — about 25,000 to 33,000 soldiers — ready to go on short notice, Luckey said.
"We're trying to figure out what it's going to look like," Luckey said.
The Reserve is working with its G-3/5/7 directorate, which is in charge of operations, to assess the component's capabilities and how to move forward.
Working with G-3/5/7 will help Luckey figure out how to balance the amount of training soldiers need without making them train so much that it becomes unsustainable for soldiers trying to maintain a civilian life and job, he said.
The general said he plans to speak with formations this week to learn about what the right mix should be for the first phase, and to make sure everyone is on the same page. Within 30 to 45 days of those conversations, he said he wants to meet with other commanders within the Reserve to ensure there's agreement.
"What we don't want to happen is a battalion [in any state] whose leadership thinks it's on a three- to four-year timeline to deploy … when in fact it may be needed in a much shorter time frame," he said.
Charlsy Panzino covers the Guard and Reserve, training, technology, operations and features for Army Times and Air Force Times. Email her at email@example.com.