In the 1992 Presidential Campaign, then candidate Bill Clinton challenged Americans with his "Rebuild America" initiative. As President, he challenged the Department of Defense (DoD) to search for innovative programs, which would serve American communities in need and provide realistic military training benefits. He suggested three primary areas of emphasis which take advantage of the unique resources and capabilities of DoD—health care, infrastructure support, and youth training programs.
Also in 1992, the Senate Armed Services Committee (SASC) echoed the President by directing DoD's increased involvement to help meet domestic needs. The SASC Report on the FY93 Defense Authorization Act noted the opportunities for enhancing military readiness while assisting in meeting domestic needs: "The American people have made an enormous investment in developing the skills, capabilities, and resources of the Armed Forces. These resources, if properly matched to local needs and coordinated with civilian efforts, can be a useful contribution to addressing the serious domestic needs of the United States."
In June 1993, the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Reserve Affairs established the directorate for Civil-Military Programs. This directorate coordinated with the various contacts from the Armed Services to provide guidelines for civil-military programs being conducted by both the Active and Reserve Components.
The director of Civil-Military Programs asked the Armed Services to develop programs that incorporate readiness training and community service. The Assistant Secretary of Defense for Reserve Affairs asked the Reserve Component Chiefs to serve as a General Officer Steering Committee for Civil-Military Programs. The Chiefs were also asked to designate members at the Colonel/Captain level to serve on a Senior Working Group.
The Senior Working Group, chaired by the director for Civil-Military Programs, met regularly from late October through December 1993. The Group's work included:
- Looking at the armed forces' past experience with civil-military projects;
- Examining existing resources and capabilities upon which we might capitalize;
- Identifying parameters for new programs based upon this information; and
- Developing new ideas for potential programs through which our armed forces could address domestic needs while simultaneously enhancing readiness. The focus was on quality, not quantity.
The working group elected to concentrate initially on three areas based on the strength of the armed forces and the nation's domestic needs: education and job training; health and medical services; and civil engineering projects.
As part of this process, the following important considerations and objectives were met:
- Coordination and approval from the Secretary of Defense, Service Secretaries, General Counsel, and Service Chiefs. The Working Group involved senior military and civilian leadership to ensure their continued involvement and support in meeting civil-military objectives.
- Meet Mission Requirements and Unit Readiness. Careful coordination was required to ensure that civil-military projects supported units' wartime Mission Essential Task List (METL) with readiness as the priority focus.
- Assure Peacetime Communications with Communities. Implementing civil-military programs requires extensive coordination, both interagency and intergovernmental. Therefore, all civil-military programs were planned and executed at a state or local level, where they would complement state and local government needs while not competing with private enterprise.
- Develop DoD Policy and Guidance. The directorate for Civil-Military Programs, in concert with the Services, recommended broad policy and program guidance to satisfy the requirements in the legislation and to dictate how the program should operate.
- Preserve Resources. All projects focused on legitimate and necessary military training while also contributing to the President's "Rebuild America" agenda.
- Observe Statutory Framework. Each focus area involved a number of statutory provisions, both state and federal, which had to be considered. The program was implemented within the framework of existing statutes.
Today, the IRT program is led by the Director, Civil-Military Training Policy, in the Office of the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Reserve Integration. The IRT program includes opportunities for Active, Guard, and Reserve Service Members, as well as our multinational partners, to integrate as a joint and whole-of-society team to serve American citizens.