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Reservists Called Up for Homeland Defense.

Illinois congressman says U.S. reliance on reserve force will grow

The reserve call-up that the President ordered under-scores the modern reality of the United States military. We can't go to war without reservists," said freshman Rep. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.), who is also a non-drilling reservist for the U.S. Navy.

In a recent interview, Kirk said that the "war on terrorism," prompted by the attacks on the World Trade Center Towers and the Pentagon, could not be fought without heavy reliance on military reservists.

"Winston Churchill said a reservist is twice a citizen. A reservist has two critical roles in national security. He's not paid when we don't need him, but he is there and will give everything when we do need him," he said.

"These are no donut-eating weekend warriors," Kirk said of the reservists he knows. "Reservists are the most experienced doctors in the military, they have award-winning airlift teams. Reservists fly their aircraft far more often than their active-duty counterparts. ... Intelligence specialists are far more experienced. In many ways, reservists dramatically enhance the capability of our military"

Kirk, a congressman from Deerfield, Ill, who serves on the House Armed Services Committee, is a reserve naval aviator. Kirk holds the rank of lieutenant commander and was the intelligence officer assigned to a squadron flying the EA-6B prowler electronic attack aircraft, until his election to Congress in 2000.

Most recently, he served in Operation Northern Watch in 1999, patrolling the no-fly zone over Iraq. Kirk's status as a non-drilling reservist means that he is still "on the books," but isn't connected to a specific reserve squadron. He indicated that he still wants to stay involved with the reserves somehow. "I will seek an opportunity to help during a congressional recess. However, my primary military duty station right now is in the Congress, to vote for the beans and bullets necessary to carry out this war, and to encourage my colleagues in Congress to do the same.

Greater than 70 percent of the medical capability of the armed forces exists in the reserves, according to Dr. Richard A. Stone, a physician in the U.S. Army Reserves.

"What the reserves do is bring to active duty high-experienced, active physicians, nurses and critical care specialists, who practice their military-occupational specialties every day in the civilian world. These units are highly specialized, highly trained and fully deployable in support of national goals of military missions.

"Our purpose is to move as far forward on the battlefield as possible to provide care to soldiers, who, upon being wounded would not survive evacuation. These units stand ready for immediate call-up with highly motivated and trained soldiers," he said.

"Their effectiveness has been proven over the last decade with deployments in virtually every military operation that our military has undertaken," he said.

Stone holds the rank of lieutenant colonel and serves as commander of the 948th forward surgical team, which is part of the 88th reserve command headquartered in Southfield, Mich. He said that his unit is committed to serving in the upcoming conflict, and, in fact, even former reservists with the unit have expressed that they are willing to serve. "My reserve center on Tuesday [Sept. 11, 2001] received over 200 calls from former reservists who wanted to come back into the active unit," he said.

Pentagon officials said that at least 35,500 reservists would be needed for assignments in homeland defense. Up to 15,000 more could be called in the near future. The largest share, 13,000, will come from the Air Force Reserve. About 10,000 will be called by the Army, 3,000 by the Navy, 7,500 by the Marines and 2,000 by the Coast Guard.

Since September 11, thousands of reservists have been on duty as pilots, military policemen and investigators. Nearly 200 Air Force reservists helped identify the remains of those who were killed when hijackers crashed a commercial jetliner into the Pentagon. Coast Guard reservists have been patrolling the harbors in New York and Los Angeles.
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Title Annotation:War on Terrorism depends on reserve forces
Author:Book, Elizabeth G.
Publication:National Defense
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Nov 1, 2001
Words:673
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