President calls up reservists for Kosovo operation

Up to 33,102 reserve component members can be called to active duty for Operation Allied Force under a presidential selected reserve call-up signed Tuesday by President Clinton.

The call-up order authorizes the mobilization of reservists for up to 270 days. Initial focus is on 2,000 members and 47 aircraft in eight Air National Guard and Air Force Reserve air refueling units. The order affects all the services, however, and sets the Air Force activation ceiling at 25,000 reservists, the Army at 6,100, the Navy at 892, the Marines at 1,100 and the Coast Guard, 10.

Charles Cragin, acting assistant secretary of defense for reserve affairs, said the units in the first increment are all refuelers. The eight units are the Air Guard's 161st Air Refueling Wing of Phoenix, Ariz., 171st ARW of Pittsburgh, 117th ARW of Birmingham, Ala., and 128th ARW of Milwaukee, Wis.; and the Air Force Reserve's 927th ARW of Detroit, 940th ARW of Marysville, Calif., 434th ARW of Kokomo, Ind., and 931st Air Refueling Group of Wichita, Kan.

The reservists will help increase the tempo of the air campaign over Yugoslavia, Pentagon spokesman Ken Bacon said April 27. They will be based in Budapest, Hungary.

The services are also authorized to invoke stop/loss programs that would suspend service members' normal separation dates from active duty. The Air Force will invoke the stop/loss program; personnel most affected are pilots, air crews, aircraft maintenance personnel and those in other critical specialties.

Air Force Maj. Gen. Susan Pamerleau, director of personnel forces management on the Air Staff, said the service invoked stop/loss as a matter of fairness because of the large number of reservists being called up. She said, however, stop/loss will specifically target those in critical specialties needed for the operation.

Army, Navy, Marine Corps and Coast Guard officials said their services will not invoke stop/loss.

Cragin said the call-up demonstrates the critical role the reserve components play today. "We really can't do anything from a military operations point of view without the reserves," he said. "The Guard and Reserve are integral parts of America's total force now and this is just the latest example."

Similar reserve call-up orders have been used for operations in Bosnia and Southwest Asia. Reserve component airmen also have been part of Operation Allied Force since the beginning, but they were volunteers, Cragin said.

"About 1,500 reservists at any one time support the operations over Yugoslavia," he said. However, the scale of operations has increased, and DoD could not sustain operations without calling the reserves, he noted.

Air National Guard and Air Force Reserve assets include aerial refueling and strategic airlift units, electronic warfare units and some strike units. Most units called will support air operations against Yugoslavia, though some will support the Kosovar refugee relief effort.

At this time, Army officials said they plan on calling not units, but individuals in such job specialties as civil affairs, psychological operations, water purification and logistics. These Army reserve component members will concentrate on helping the humanitarian mission.

Details of the other services' plans were not immediately available.

Once called up, reservists qualify for all benefits afforded active duty counterparts, including the tax exemption for service in the Allied Force area of operations.

Some of the reservists will back-fill active duty personnel going to Allied Force, Cragin said. "The United States has worldwide commitments," he said. "These must continue. We are handling all contingencies as they arise. Obviously, this requires an effort by all members of the total force."

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