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Tuesday, October 17, 2000

Hawaii Guard,
Army Reserve form
rapid-deployment unit

By Gregg K. Kakesako

The Pacific Army Reserve and the Hawaii Army National Guard will be part of a major restructuring, which will result in the development of a streamlined rapid-deployment headquarters at Fort Shafter.

Lt. Col. Justin Lee, who will command the new headquarters element made up of 82 Hawaii Army National Guard and 99 Pacific Army Reserve soldiers, will mean that reservists now will be integrated with the major Army command unit here and work side by side with their active Army counterparts on a regular basis.

The 181 reservists will be part of a multi-component Army unit at Fort Shafter and will augment the 301-member active-duty headquarters force of the U.S. Army Pacific at Fort Shafter.

If full mobilization ever occurs, this headquarters element would deploy with the Army headquarters staff elements.

Lee, a Vietnam War veteran, said the intent of the restructuring follows the desires of Army Chief of Staff Gen. Eric Shinseki "to blend or blur the lines between the active Army components and the nation's reserves."

"That will mean reservists will be sitting right next to an active component guy working on the same project," Lee said.

In the past, training exercises or other Pacific-area missions involving the Hawaii Army National Guard or Army Reserve were fulfilled by reservists who were members of other units and only temporarily assigned to fulfill these tasks.

"The change means the Army will have a pool of information" Lee said, "on what the reserves can do. This means the local guys -- who were once part of the Army Reserve or the Army National Guard -- will become the planners. They will be people on the ground level who know the existing reserve component structure."

Lee said members of his unit -- which has been on the drawing board for the past three years -- will come out of existing Army Reserve and Hawaii National Guard units. Many of them already have received their new assignments.

For the individual Army Reservists and National Guard soldiers and officers the change could work to their benefit, Lee added, since in the past their jobs or other personnel obligations could have gotten in the way, requiring these soldiers to quit or go into inactive status.

Both Army National Guard and Army Reserve soldiers must attend 48 drills, usually broken down to one weekend a month, and 14 to 17 days of continuous active duty.

"Their drill schedules now will be flexible," Lee said, "rather than the traditional one weekend a month. They could stack their drills by quarters, perhaps spending a week at a time fulfilling their obligation."

Lee said changing to an Army Service Component Command brings the Army headquarters at Fort Shafter in line with current Army organization and doctrine.

Similar changes have already taken place with the U.S. Army Southern Command in Puerto Rico, when it moved from Panama, and in South Korea and Japan.

The new concept also gives the Army command here the capability to tailor Army forces needed to respond rapidly to Pacific-area crises and to form task forces such as the one currently being used in East Timor. Army officials said such task forces could be used in dealing with natural disasters like hurricanes and typhoons.

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