Army to integrate reserve and active-duty systems

For active-duty service members who want to change over to reserve status, or for those in the reserves who want to jump into active service, the switch isn't easy.

As a result, the Defense Department will create a comprehensive personnel management system to allow soldiers to move between different statuses, Maj. Gen. Marcia Anderson, deputy chief of the Army Reserve, announced Tuesday.

Currently, the Army Reserve has its own personnel system, which does not coordinate with the Army's active component. All administrative aspects of moving service members back and forth must be performed individually and entered manually.

Changing that system will require updating restrictions left over from the Cold War era.

"It's going to take years," Anderson said. "This will impact the retirement system, impact how retirement is calculated, and affect pay and benefits."

While the Defense Department's Reserve Affairs office is developing an implementation plan, culture changes within the Army will be key in making certain changes, Anderson said.

"We have to have a new way of thinking about this," she said.

A significant hurdle to synchronizing the systems will be matching reservists' skills with those needed in the active services. While reservists are required to keep updated records of their civilian employment, the Army is not permitted to use that knowledge to match needed skills with the reservists who have them.

Anderson cited Green Pages, a voluntary database developed with the Army's Human Resources Command for the Army Corps of Engineers, as a perfect example of a system that allows soldiers and unit commanders to marry skills with available positions.

One of her first efforts is the Individual Ready Reserve affiliation program, which provides reservists with a point of contact at an active or reserve unit nearest to them. Those in the IRR now will have a clear channel of access to the nearest unit, which Anderson says will provide better support and accountability.

"At a time when we're looking at very constrained resources, it's going to make it more important to have access to special skills in the Army Reserves," she said. "It's going to be more important as we go forward."

Clarification: A spokesman from the Office of the Chief of the Army Reserve said his office met with Reserve Affairs to discuss the initiative and they are evaluating their role in the process.

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