ARLINGTON, Va. - Representatives from the Army National Guard, the Army Reserve, and the armies of Great Britain, Canada, Australia and New Zealand, recently came together August 6 for the 2012 American, British, Canadian, Australian and New Zealand Armies' Program Reserve Information Team Conference.
The purpose of the conference was to allow each nation to share their capability to work as a coalition force, and how that may change in the future.
"I think regardless of the size of our organizations, we all face the same challenges in our respective countries," said Army Lt. Gen. William E. Ingram Jr., the director of the Army National Guard. "I think this will be an opportunity to visit and understand how we can exchange some ideas."
Army Lt. Gen. Jeffrey Talley, chief of the Army Reserve and commanding general of U.S. Army Reserve Command, agreed with Ingram and added, "As we try to gain efficiencies across all of our armies, we want to be able to invest more in our reserve components in order to save money for our active components of our countries and our services."
"In order to do that," said Talley, "we all need to share best practices."
During the first day of the conference, each nation – including the Army Guard and the Reserve – gave a brief update on just how their nations' army reserves function within their respective countries, what challenges each is facing and how they hope to move forward.
New Zealand Army Col. David Ian Hingston, the current chief of staff of the ABCA Armies Program, said the organization's main function was to ensure full interoperability between the partner nations.
"We identify gaps in our interoperability between the [member] nations and then we identify ‘products' that will assist the nations [to] close the interoperability gaps." Hingston said.
He added that the history of ABCA could be traced to just after World War II, when the armies of the U.S., Britain and Canada wanted to continue to foster and capitalize on their close relationship built during the war.
The focus of ABCA today is more on interoperability, and member countries have said that future operations are likely to be as a coalition force consisting of ABCA and other partner nations.
Improving upon procedures and systems in peacetime is a way to streamline the coalition process.
"We really are going to have to think a little bit about who we are, where we are, and what we're going to do next as we move forward," Ingram said.