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Extended training announced for Army’s citizen soldiers

Wednesday, August 8th, 2012

For the 555,000 citizen soldiers in the Army National Guard and Reserves, the drawdown of U.S. troops in Iraq and Afghanistan won’t necessarily mean a return to the pre-war training schedule of “one weekend a month, two weeks a year.” Instead, according to Army Chief of Staff Gen. Ray Odierno, Guardsmen and Reservists’ training could extend from the two-week block to up to seven weeks of away-from-home training, in addition to their monthly drills.

USA Today reports:

“As they go through it, their readiness will increase, the number of days training will increase,” Odierno said. […]

The change, which will take effect next year, is a far less demanding schedule than what’s occurred after 9/11 when Guardsmen and reservists suddenly left jobs and families for a year or more, preceded at times with four- to six-month periods of training, the general said. But it will be more than the traditional peacetime commitment of drilling one weekend a month and two weeks a year.

“What it will mean for the families is that when they do have extra training, it will be very predictable and they should know very far in advance when it’s going to happen,” Odierno said. “That’s key as we work with employers.”

Select National Guard or Reserve units would be part of a five-year cycle of training, available for deployment the last year of that period probably for no more than 30 to 45 days, he said.

In the past decade, National Guard and Reserve soldiers were mobilized at record levels. During 2005, the full-time Army was bolstered by more than 100,000 National Guard soldiers.

Odierno said that National Guard members and reservists acquired combat skills the Army sorely needs now as it tries to save money by reducing its ranks of full-time soldiers from 570,000 to 490,000 by 2017, and cuts the number of combat brigades from 45 to 32.

“How do we sustain the readiness and experience that we’ve gained in the National Guard and Reserve component?” Odierno asked. “That’s what we’ve been working on.”

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