Army Reserve Command is expanding its search for talent and pinpointing which capabilities are needed for its ongoing Ready Force X effort for rapidly deploying units.
Lt. Gen. Charles Luckey, head of the Army Reserve, said the command has been taking a hard look at what units need to do, and how quickly they’d need to do them.
“Over the last year, we have increased the fidelity on what types of capabilities need to be able to move quickly,” Luckey told reporters at a Defense Writers Group breakfast in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday.
The goal of Ready Force X, which Luckey announced in 2016, is to have formations ready to go in 90 days or less, depending on the contingency.
More than 600 units and 50,000 soldiers make up Ready Force X, but Luckey said he’s not focused on the number of formations or troops.
By implementing Ready Force X, Luckey said he can see where the Reserve has potential risks, as well as its ability to quickly generate capabilities.
For example, if he identifies what the Reserve needs to do, and he knows which units are available to do that, he can assess the readiness of those units. If his assessment is that they’re not sufficiently ready to do this five days from now, then he can address that.
“That really helps me look at my formations and figure out, ‘Okay, how do I fix that problem,’ ” he said. “Or, in some cases, how do I explain that with a high degree of fidelity to the senior leadership of the Army so that everybody understands this is the risk of trying to do this at this speed.”
By assessing units as the Ready Force X ideas get started, Luckey can see where the command needs to adjust some of its efforts and address any potential risks.
“Whether it’s changing manning policies … or who gets the next widget because this formation is going to need to have that widget today” in order to train on it faster, he said.
Luckey, who took command in June, said he’s also constantly learning about the niche specialties within the Army Reserve.
He used movement control teams and soldiers who support railroad infrastructure in other countries as examples.
“Many of these teams are very small, but they are extraordinarily important for movement of our commodities and capabilities,” he said. “There are all kinds of little niche capabilities … but if you don’t have a way to harmonize those or integrate them, you’re going to have friction that you don’t need.”
‘This is a process’
When it comes to which units can deploy on short notice, Luckey said some formations could be ready in less than a week, but others would take longer.
“My point is … I don’t think I’ll ever get to a place where I can sit down and tell everybody, ‘Okay, every one of these units are all this level of manning and equipment and training,’ ” he said. “I don’t think I’ll ever get to a place to say, ‘Yeah, yeah, we’re good.’ ”
Luckey said it will take a constant state of assessment and training to make sure the Reserve’s units are ready to go.
“I don’t want to give anyone the notion that this is all going to be solved in six months,” he said. “This is a process.”
Part of Ready Force X will be a culture shift, where soldiers need to leave behind the mindset that they have months or years to build readiness, he said.
Over the past 15 or so years, the Reserve has built readiness over time, in a progressive and rotational manner. If a unit was alerted for a possible mobilization in 2019, those soldiers had several years to work their way through the training required to prepare for the mission.
With Ready Force X, soldiers must be prepared to mobilize in a much shorter timeframe.
Luckey is also looking to see if the Reserve should be focusing on different areas for recruiting.
“I look at demographics in America, and I look at flow of human capital in the nation and where we need to move force structure to capture that talent,” he said.
One of the Reserve’s focuses is digital key terrain, or areas where there’s a higher density of people who have a certain type of skill.
The high-tech industry is one of the places to look, he said.
Luckey said the Reserve will be testing the waters in certain areas “to capture talent that we may not have focused on before.”
Some of these areas include Silicon Valley in California; Cambridge, Massachusetts; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; Austin, Texas; and North Carolina.
Ready Force X should be thought of as a verb more than a noun, Luckey said, because it will be continuing to grow and change.