Because of the complexity of dismantling the Persian Gulf war machine, some U.S. National Guard and reserve troops will remain on active duty through the end of the year, Defense Department officials said Tuesday. Reservists are the primary sources of some skills needed in demobilization, the officials told a subcommittee of the Senate Armed Services Committee.
Some reservists were kept on active duty longer than necessary, the officials acknowledged. But demobilization is going well overall, they insisted.
One Army National Guard member who was to tell the committee of a particularly dramatic foul-up _ Spec. Lisa Dunster of Ohio's 641st Quartermaster Detachment _ suffered minor injuries in an automobile accident Monday and was unable to travel to Washington.
Dunster was to tell the committee how members of her unit were kept in Saudi Arabia for about a month after their mission was completed and spent four to six days camped in a parking garage, said Ohio Democrat John Glenn, a subcommittee chairman.
"People don't know what to plan on," Glenn said. "Until they know what date they're going to get out, we're going to continue to get the complaints."
Reservists still in the gulf area are being given dates by which they can expect to be brought home, Assistant Defense Secretary Stephen Duncan told the subcommittee.
Of 228,000 reservists activated for the gulf war, Duncan said, 106,000 were deployed to the war zone. The rest were assigned in the United States or elsewhere to support the war or to replace regular troops who were sent to the gulf. About 62,000 of them remain on active duty, including 21,000 in the gulf area.