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Tribute To Maj. Gen. Max Baratz On The Occasion Of His Retirement

Rep. Steve Buyer

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Mr. Speaker, today I rise to pay tribute to a distinguished and dedicated military officer who has served this nation with great honor and distinction. Major General Max Baratz, the Chief, Army Reserve, will retire on May 24, 1998 after more than four decades of dedicated and exemplary service in the United States Army and the Army Reserve. Today, I'm proud to take a few minutes to highlight the extraordinary career of Major General Baratz.

His career began in 1956 as an infantry officer. After serving as a platoon leader in the 1st Infantry Division, he carried his love of country and commitment to duty to the United States Army Reserve. As a drilling reservist, he became an engineer officer and served in a variety of staff and leadership positions to include the command of company in an Engineer Training Group and service as an Engineering Battalion Commander.

In November 1976, as a full colonel, Major General Baratz was selected to be the 416th Engineer Command's Chief of Staff. Mr. Speaker, I need not remind you or my distinguished colleagues that only a handful of Army Reservists ever attain or surpass this prestigious rank, and even fewer achieve the rank of major general. But Major General Baratz was no ordinary Army Reservist, and he is no ordinary citizen--soldier.

In 1979 Major General Baratz was selected as a Brigadier General in the Army Reserve.

In November 1983, after 11 years of service in the 416th Engineer Command, the Army selected him as commander. President Reagan was well aware of the asset he had in Max Baratz, and nominated him for his second star--a nomination, I might add, that the other body prudently and expeditiously confirmed. During his tenure of more than three years as the commander of the 416th, also found the time to serve on the Army Reserve Forces Policy Committee, firs as an alternate member in the 5th Army Area, and then as the principal member from the 4th Army Area. In the closing days of his command, he was selected to be co-chairman of the Army Reserve Forces Policy Committee, a position he held until December 1990.

In 1991, during Operation Desert Shield, Major General Baratz was called to active duty to serve as the Deputy Commanding General for Reserve Affairs for the same United States Forces Command. He personally oversaw the mobilization of almost 85,000 Army Reservists in support of Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm. Major General Baratz was personally responsible for one-third of the entire Defense Department's reserve component mobilization to support the Gulf War, and was a major factor in the success of our national efforts in the region. I am thoroughly convinced that, without Major General Baratz personally in charge, our efforts would have been far more difficult and problematic. Those soldiers were the lifeline for the ground forces, and the successful completion of their mission is a testament to the great abilities of this military leader.

Shortly after the Gulf War, Major General Baratz was again called to active duty to be Deputy Commanding General of the United States Army Reserve Command. In this capacity, he was personally responsible for the training and readiness of almost all Army Reserve units in the continental United States. In 1994 he was selected to be the Chief, Army Reserve.

Mr. Speaker, I believe that most people do not know the full scope and awesome responsibilities that come with this position. As the Chief, he oversees Army Reserve policy development and interaction with the Department of the Army and Department of Defense staffs. He is also the Commanding General of the United States Army Reserve Command, as well as the Deputy Commanding General for Reserve Affairs for the United States Forces Command. In short, he is the focal point for virtually all Army reserve component issues.

It should come as no surprise that Major General Baratz was as dedicated and professional in this assignment as he was in all his others. he oversaw a dramatic, and at times, painful reorganization of the Army Reserve that was accomplished, first and foremost, with the needs of the Army and the nation in the forefront of his mind. While its size was being reduced by over one-third, its utility was increasing dramatically. Under his direction, Army Reserve units were the first into and the last out of Haiti. Also, over 70 percent of the Army's reserve component mobilization in support of Operation Restore Democracy came from the Army Reserve. Furthermore, Major General Baratz' efforts were eccentuated during the successfull deployment of over 15,000 Army Reservists to Bosnia, a figure representing 74 percent of the Army's reserve component mobilization. In fact, more Army Reservists have been mobilized in support of peace keeping efforts in Bosnia than were mobilized during the Vietnam conflict. Under Major General Baratz, the United States Army Reserve is better trained and more relevant to the nation than, perhaps, at any time in its distinguished history.

Mr. Speaker, I believe that we all should say a prayer of thanks for Max Baratz and his desire to serve his country for over four decades and under nine different presidents. The United States Army is an institution that prides itself on leadership by example. The example Max Baratz has set ensures that we will always have dedicated men and women ready to take up the cause of our great nation wherever and whenever required. Mr. Speaker, it is an honor for me to present the distinguished credentials of Major General Max Baratz before the Congress today. However, something tells me that we, as a nation, have not heard the last from him. This tireless patriot may be retiring, but rather than a ``farewell,'' he leaves saying, ``until we meet again.''