Reservists put in active duty

335th Theater Signal Command

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FARWANIYA, Kuwait — During a March 31 conversation with Maj. Gen. Rip Detamore, commander of the 335th Theater Signal Command at Camp Doha, Kuwait, I was struck by the passion with which he spoke of his fellow reservists.

Detamore, 57, retired from active duty in 1997. Nevertheless, he has been in Kuwait since November 2002. His command supports all Army land component communications as well as the Coalition Forces Land Component Command and all its subordinate elements in southwest Asia.

The 335th is co-located with the 3rd U.S. Army near Atlanta and includes active military personnel and reservists. A core group of 35 personnel generally ensures that the Theater Network Operations and Security Center at Camp Doha is operational around the clock, but that number has grown to more than 200 employees during the war, Detamore said,

He reiterated throughout our 30-minute phone interview how amazed he is by the "dedication of our great, young reserve soldiers, their employers and families, that came and are serving their country."

He said many reservists in his command are regularly employed by corporate heavyweights in the Atlanta area, including Coca-Cola Co, and that many of the companies are still paying their employees' salaries — some of which even reach into the six figures — "because even the tax break isn't that good."

After hearing the passion with which Detamore spoke of his fellow reservists, I looked over the stories I've done since I've been here and they include as many, if not more, comments from reserve soldiers as active ones.

Anyone who has even tangentially followed the Defense Department's workforce issues knows that the military is increasingly reliant on its reserves and contractors as the Pentagon attempts to get its active component back into "core" warfighting functions.

I guess I had heard that so many times at DOD conferences and congressional hearings that I stopped paying attention to what it really meant. But having been here and seen these mail carriers, accountants, information technology managers and retired soldiers come back to the military to support Operation Iraqi Freedom, I, for one, will never lose sight of it again.

Heating Up

It's definitely getting hotter here, even to a casual observer here at the Crowne Plaza Kuwait. I think it's safe to say that it's far hotter for those soldiers lugging around 100-pound packs while wearing DuPont Kevlar vests and battle helmets.

So in addition to conducting whatever mission they have, those troops are also working on keeping themselves, and their sometimes finicky IT equipment, cool. Just a thought.

Captives Arrive

Two Kenyan supply workers who had been taken as prisoners of war in Iraq were returned to the Kenyan ambassador here at the Crowne Plaza today, according to a source with knowledge of the situation.

David Mukuria and Jacob Maina had been seized while delivering relief supplies meant for Iraqi prisoners of war. The Kenyan ambassador had been in Saudi Arabia and negotiated with the Iraqis for the captives' release.

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