James M. Miller carries two sets of business cards.
One identifies him as "Dr. James M. Miller," dean of the school of education at Southern Utah State College. The other set lists him as "Brig. Gen. James M. Miller," commander of I Corps artillery.In either capacity, Miller's responsibilities involve a sizable group of young people. On campus, students find him wearing a sports coat, tie and cowboy boots while working in his corner office in the basement of SUSC's "Old Main" building. During training exercises with the Army National Guard, his uniform boasts a general's star. In the event of a full-scale mobilization, he would command 25,800 artillery troops, many of them the same age as the SUSC students.
I Corps, of "M*A*S*H" fame, is still assigned to the Pacific theater - primarily Korea and Japan. Some 285,000 troops are under I Corps command. Half of those would be involved in the initial stages of a full-scale deployment to Korea. Roughly 80 percent of the I Corps troops are part-timers - members of the the Army Reserve or Army National Guard.
Many National Guard and Reserve soldiers would be sent to battle ahead of their active-duty counterparts because of the United States' increasing dependence on reserve forces, and because of the Defense Department's policy of training specific units for particular theaters of battle.
Miller's personal observation is that the reserve forces are a tremendous bargain for the national economy, but that it is unwise for a nation to rely totally on a volunteer army. He also believes U.S. reserve forces perform well, but feels their ability to accomplish a war-time mission has only been partially tested.
The Firex artillery exercise now under way at Camp Williams, Tooele Army Depot and Dugway Proving Ground was designed by Miller as a full-scale mobilization to test whether reserve component troops could deploy from their homes to a battlefield in Korea with all of the support and supplies needed for battle.
Outside of the fact that the exercise is in Utah instead of Korea, the simulation is close enough to the way a real deployment would operate that the entire operation would have to be classified if it were any more exact, said Miller, who is directing the exercise. A total of 17,000 troops are involved in the two-week exercise that began Saturday - many times the 1,000 or so he takes to Korea each year for annual training.
"It became obvious that we really did need to stress more the ability to mobilize people, and to get to central places, and to load equipment, and to manage it properly, and to get it on a ship and through ports and various kinds of things," he said.
The bottom line is this: If Miller has the potential responsibility of leading the largest U.S. artillery force into battle, he wants to know that his troops are being effectively trained, and that war plans routinely rehearsed in theory will work.
"If I'm going to have that responsibility," Miller said, "I want a shakedown."
Statistics indicate seven to nine soldiers could be killed during the Firex exercise. Miller said that's a possibility dozens of officers have spent many hours trying to mitigate through advance safety campaigns. But the risk of casualties in a training exercise is outweighed by what soldiers learn to help them avoid becoming casualties in battle.
Miller is optimistic that Firex will demonstrate the nation's reserve forces are well trained. Korean officers can't tell the reservists from the active-duty soldiers during training missions in Korea, he said. "The kids that are in there are doing the job."
But Miller also believes it is a mistake for any country to rely only on a volunteer army for its defense. Without the draft, recruiting soldiers becomes somewhat akin to hiring mercenaries that are attracted to service because of the pay, or because they don't have opportunities elsewhere.
"In a moral sense, I don't think a nation that's 90 percent white can expect an army that's 40 percent black to fight its battles for it, and can do that in good conscience. I think the army that defends the ideals ought to represent the demographics of that nation in a fair and equitable kind of way," he said.
"Everyone should have some kind of obligation." Everyone with a stake in a democratic society "ought to jump in and paddle the boat, " he said. "Israel does it. All the Scandinavian countries do it. They just say, `For this little period of time you're going to have to give of yourself.' "
Otherwise, "You say to a guy, `We need to defend our national interest,' and he says, `Well, send somebody to look out for me.' "
When reservists live and work in the community, it boosts patriotism generally and results in a more positive perception of the military. Patriotism would be even higher and the fear of elitism among military ranks decreased if more people were inducted to military service, he said.