Issue Date: September 27, 2004
Navy offers monthlong Reserve drill
32-day program would satisfy yearly obligation
By Christopher Munsey
Times staff writer
A new pilot program will allow drilling reservists to cram all their drilling into one continuous 32-day period.
The program is a big departure from the standard one weekend a month and two weeks a year drilling reservists have grown accustomed to.
By participating, a reservist could satisfy his annual drill and training obligation in “one fell swoop,” said Patrick McKinney, director of Selected Reserve personnel policy for Naval Reserve Forces Command in New Orleans.
And supported commands — the Navy activities which have Reserve billets — could benefit, too, he said. Having a long-term reservist on hand to work a special project or lend a hand during an especially busy time of year is a handy option, he said.
The goal is to provide the Navy with better-trained reservists whose work more directly supports Navy commands, McKinney said.
It also makes reservists “more of a mobilization asset, because they’re that much more involved in the command’s activities,” he said.
The program is starting out small. So far, the Naval Reserve is trying to interest drilling reservists at Naval Weapons Support Center in Crane, Ind., and Naval Hospital Great Lakes, Ill.
Over the past year, Reserve officials worked with active-duty Navy-supported commands to identify the 300 billets they wanted to open up to the flexible drilling program, McKinney said.
The decision is left to the reservist currently filling the billet as to whether or not he wants to participate.
So far, no one has signed up, he said.
“Part of this is to find out how many people out there can do this. It’s an exploratory move,” McKinney said.The program might appeal to reservists who have long blocks of seasonal time where they’re not working their regular civilian jobs, such as construction workers and teachers, McKinney said.
As McKinney describes it, the program is an expansion of the Reserve’s existing flexible drilling program, whereby reservists can consolidate drilling time every quarter.
But that program mainly involves reservists performing unit-specific work at their Reserve centers, and not so much working with active-duty commands, he said.
Every year, a drilling reservist usually has 48 drills spread over 12 weekends, plus a 12-day annual training period.
To reach the 32 days, the program lets a reservist combine 40 drills, for 20 days, with the 12-day annual training period.
A participating reservist will still be required to spend two drills per quarter at his Reserve center, taking care of paperwork and other administrative tasks, for eight drills annually.
And since reservists will be working away from their Reserve centers, officials want reservists who are knowledgeable about how the Reserve’s pay system works, McKinney said.
“The member has to make sure his documentation of drill time gets back to his Reserve center. We want to make sure these guys get paid,” he said.