On Friday September 14, I received an almost expected phone call from my Army Commander: “Be ready?we are going.” As a reserve counter-terrorism intelligence analyst for the U.S. Army, my activation seemed nearly certain after September 11th. Yet, as all those who have worked for the government know, nothing is certain until it actually happens. For nearly a month and a half I waited, fairly sure of my departure, yet totally oblivious to the dates and length of proposed duty. This past week the uncertainty was removed. My departure from HBS is imminent and assured for at least a year, and possibly longer.
I want to take this opportunity to express my gratitude to many members of the HBS community and also to help people understand what it means to be activated and how they can support reservists in the future.
Over the past several weeks, prominent publications such as Newsweek and The Wall
Street Journal have written several articles concerning the Harvard Faculty of Arts and Sciences? exclusion of Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) units from training on Harvard?s campus. These articles have painted a picture of Harvard being “anti-military”. While I cannot speak to the situation across the river (I did my ROTC at Cornell), I can state that the support that the other military personnel at HBS readying for mobilization and I have received has been nothing short of phenomenal. The administration, faculty and fellow students have been incredibly understanding about the unique demands of mobilization. I am leaving HBS with the feeling that there is possibly no more supportive place for reservists than here.
In recent years, the reserves have become a critical element to the United States national security. Because the U.S. dramatically downsized its active military force after the Cold War ended, the government has increasingly relied on reserve forces to “fill the gap” left by deactivated units. Reservists generally train at least one weekend a month and two weeks a year, activating in times of national emergency, war, or increasingly for peacekeeping operations around the world. For example, there are currently thousands of U.S. reservists in Bosnia and Kosovo maintaining the delicate peace established there. Since the reservists work normal civilian jobs in their non-military time, support of their military duties by their employers is of critical importance.
As HBS students, we are constantly reminded that we are the future leaders of businesses and communities around the world. It is extremely likely that most of you who remain in the United States will manage or work with reservists over the course of your career. By supporting your reservists, not only are you facilitating their lives as “citizen soldiers,” you are ensuring the safety of the nation.