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The Skill Qualification Tests are really a sampling of the critical tasks from the Soldiers' Manual according to the skill level of the soldier. You asked previously about the number of supervisors that were taking the test when they were required to. We have individual information for both the Army Reserve and the Army National Guard, but to give you an example of how the supervisors, the noncommissioned officers, also are not taking the SQT, I will give you a few figures.
In the Army Reserve for fiscal year 1987 for example, at Skill Level 3 which would be the E-6's, there were 25,234 soldiers scheduled to take it. Only 10,034, or 40 percent took it. So, the fact that a large percentage of the Army Reserve and National Guard members are not taking the Skill Qualification Test as required is not a function of just lower ranks. There are supervisors, non-commissioned officers, who are also required to take it that are not taking the test.
Mr. MONTGOMERY. My time is up.
Mr. RAVENEL. The members have had differences of rating the proficiency test for the National Guard -
Mr. Davis. The tests are the same. For whatever the specialty is we are talking about the test for the Active components, the Army Reserve and the National Guard are all the same.
Mr. RAVENEL. What I mean is--
Mr. Davis. Sir, they are identical. For fiscal year 1987, the mean score of all Army reservists who took the SQT is 64 and the mean score of all National Guard soldiers who took the SQT is 64. They are the same.
Mrs. BYRON. Mr. Pickett. Mr. PICKETT. I have no questions, Madam Chairman. Mrs. BYRON. Thank you very much. Yes, Mr. Montgomery? Mr. MONTGOMERY. Let me follow up with a few more questions. Madam Chairman, we will get the chief in a few minutes but, certainly, if we have these problems, they need correcting because the Congress and I think most taxpayers want this mission to the National Guard-
Mrs. BYRON. I have got some questions for the chiefs and one of the things that concerns me is that listed under the most critical factors on the Army Guard is personnel and individual skill qualifications and under the Reserve, that is the second most critical after the number of personnel.
So, when you have testing and you have got 30 percent of the individuals taking those tests, it makes me question the other 70 percent, if the qualifications have come out of those testing. The most critical issue is skill qualifications. Why are we not testing individuals to find out their strengths and their weaknesses?
Mr. MONTGOMERY. Madam Chairman, I just have one other question. On the Skill Qualification Test, this is not the only measure that the National Guard and Reserves used. Can commanders and that maybe this supervisor, sergeant, does not need to take this test. Did you run across that? I am just asking that.
Mr. Davis. It is our understanding that the SQT is the only test that the Army has to determine the proficiency of its soldiers.
Mr. CARROLL. If I could add to that, sir, the training policies and standards within the Army require that first line supervisors maintain a history of the performance and proficiency of their soldiers in critical tasks. We have not done enough work to know whether the supervisors are in fact maintaining those records. It is called a job book. It is a listing of the tasks that the supervisor keeps in his pocket. It is a part of our follow-on work. We do intend to look at that when we visit National Guard and Army Reserve units.
But Mr. Davis is absolutely right. It is our understanding that the Skill Qualification Test is the only objective assessment currently available to the Army to determine the overall proficiency of individual soldiers according to Soldier Manual standards.
Mr. MONTGOMERY. Thank you.
SECRETARY OF DEFENSE FOR RESERVE AFFAIRS Secretary DUNCAN. Madam Chairman, I understand there may be some questions on the comments that were just made. I will be happy to respond to those, but I presume that you would like for me to proceed with my opening general statement.
Mrs. BYRON. Yes. Go right ahead.
Secretary DUNCAN. What I would like to do, if I might, is speak broadly of certain issues other than just that issue and then respond to any questions which you and the members of the committee might have. I would be pleased to do that.
I might simply note first, that I am delighted to be here today. This is my first appearance before any congressional committee since I was sworn in. I might also say very quickly that this has been a very challenging time for the Reserve Forces. I think the members of this committee know as well as anybody in the country just how much we are asking our Reserve Forces to do these days. There is simply not a contingency plan anywhere in the world that could be effectively executed without the commitment of our Xational Guard and Reserve Forces in the same time frame as our Active component forces. That necessarily requires us to focus a great deal on making sure that our Reserve forces, especially our early deploying units, are absolutely ready to do what they are being asked to do.
Several recent developments involving the Reserve Forces have been significant and I might just quickly summarize those.
In October of last year, we conducted the first “no-notice" exercise of the President's statutory authority under 10 U.S. Code 673b to call up to 200,000 members of the Selected Reserve to Active duty. That exercise, of course, was conducted in conjunction with
an ongoing JCS exercise, PROUD SCOUT 88. I am not sure what others expected from that test, but I found the results surprisingly good. Nearly 94 percent of the members of the units who were selected by random sample actually were contacted. Over 92 percent physically reported to their Reserve Center or their National Guard Armory or were excused pursuant to standards which had been set by the respective services.
Another significant development in fiscal 1987 was the establishment of a policy requiring eligible personnel of the Individual Ready Reserve to perform at least one day of Active duty during the year in order to permit an evaluation of their skill proficiency, to let us update our data base, to find out what their current address is, to see what kind of physical condition they are in, and so forth.
The IRR is, of course, important because it is our principal source of pre-trained individuals who would be called if we had to mobilize. This is the first time that we have gone through one complete screening of the IRR and I think it has proved to be very successful. There were some side benefits that perhaps had not been originally anticipated. It reminded some folks of their continuing military obligation and it reminded us where they are. It also proved to be a pretty good recruiting vehicle. A lot of people that we tested actually found out that there were some opportunities in the Selective Reserve they did not know about and they came in.
Another significant development was the convening of the Sixth Quadrennial Review of Military Compensation. This, of course, will be the first review that focuses on military reserve compensation and I anticipate several recommendations later this spring in their final report.
I am also pleased to tell you that we have had continued success with our recruiting and retention efforts. Between fiscal year 1980 and fiscal year 1987, the annual Selected Reserve Enlisted accessions, including both those with prior service and no prior service, increased nearly 8 percent. During the same period, total enlisted and in-strength increased by 33 percent. In addition, and like the Active forces, the quality of the Selected Reserve remains high. Some 89 percent of all fiscal year 1987 enlisted reservists were high school graduates and some 91 percent of those people scored average or higher on the Armed Forces Qualification Test.
Now, while a number of factors have contributed to that, I think it is fair to say that one of the most important appears to have been the Montgomery GI Bill. The use of those benefits, of course, has been steadily increasing since the program was commenced in July of 1985. It is aimed directly at young high school graduates who are interested in pursuing their education beyond high school. Our data reflects that some 90 percent of the enlisted participants are under age 30 and 50 percent are under the age of 22. With 85 percent of the current participants attending school either fulltime or three-fourths of the time, it certainly seems to be reaching its intended audience.
We have also continued to improve the equipment of the National Guard and Reserve Forces. The impact of the congressional funding of reserve equipment is certainly being reflected in both ment report for fiscal year 1989 reflects that equipment valued at $9.9 billion was delivered to the National Guard and Reserve Forces in fiscal year 1987. The projections from this report also indicate a continued high level of distribution to the Reserve components averaging $8 billion annually over the next 4 years. On the basis of our representative sample, we think that if we were mobilized at the beginning of fiscal year 1989, we could field approximately 80 percent of the equipment which would be required by the Guard and Reserve Forces. Through the use of substitute items, this capability could be raised to approximately 84 percent.
Now, the outlook for continued progress, of course, is one of a question mark and it is less certain in light of our budgetary constraints, but the progress thus far has been very good when equipping the Guard and Reserve Forces.
Another significant recent development involving the Reserve Forces was my recent release on March the 3rd of the results of the first, and I emphasize the first one ever, comprehensive survey of the attitudes and the personal characteristics of members of the Select Reserve. More than 52,000 enlisted personnel and 12,000 officers actually filled out questionnaires and participated in the survey, and the results give us a real good profile on who they are.
The results also, interestingly enough, reflect their attitudes, something we have never had before on such issues as: Why are you remaining in the Reserves? What do you consider most beneficial about your training? How do you react to a weekend drill versus annual training? What are your own perceptions of promotion opportunities? What are your own perceptions of your employer's reaction and your family's reaction to your participation as a drilling guardsman and reservist.
In summary, there is no doubt in my mind that the overall readiness and war fighting capability of our National Guard and Reserve Forces have improved significantly in recent years. Today, we have more qualified people who work with better equipment and who receive more realistic training than in any previous time in our history.
Our implementation of an effective Total Force Policy, however, also requires us to be honest and to recognize that we are not where we want to be, yet. We have to be relentless in our efforts to ensure that the National Guard and the Reserve recruit and retain sufficient numbers of properly skilled and trained personnel and sufficient modern equipment to be ready for combat on short notice. In short, I think we face several challenges. We have made a good start, but we have a lot of work to do.
I would like in summary, Madam Chairman, to express my gratitude to both you and to Mr. Montgomery for introducing and sponsoring H.R. 3856, the Reserve Officer's Personnel Management Act. I am happy for that support and I am looking forward to hearings on this matter later in the session. I will be glad to participate. At this time, I have no further questions, but I certainly would be happy to respond to any questions the committee might have.
(The prepared statement of Secretary Duncan follows.