2
Reserve Forces Today

This chapter provides a general overview of current reserve forces, including their organization, their part in the U.S. military's total-force policy, their capabilities and limitations, and barriers to their integration into the total force.

ORGANIZATION

Each of the 12 components of the U.S. armed forces (Table 2-1), some active and some reserve, has its own leadership, culture, traditions, policies, regulations, and, most significantly, congressional appropriations. The reserve components can be divided into many categories, each with specific operational and training stipulations, pay and allowances, and availability limitations, all formalized by law and based in part on their diverse origins. The following is a simplified description of a complex establishment and should not be considered definitive.

As Table 2-1 shows, the Army's guard and reserve components (together, approximately 800,000 personnel) are by far the largest of the reserve component organizations, larger than the other reserve components combined. The Army's ready reserve (which includes both guard and reserve units) also constitutes a larger percentage of the total Army organization than the reserve components of the other military services. The sheer magnitude of the Army's reserve components led to a natural emphasis in this report on issues related to the readiness and effectiveness of the Army's ready reserve and its integration with elements of the Army's active component.

TABLE 2-1 U.S. Armed Forces: Active and Ready Reserve Strengths as of September 30, 1998

 

Active Components

Ready Reserve

 

 

 

 

Guard

Reserve

 

Service

Strength

Percent of Service

Strength

Percent of Service

Strength

Percent of Service

Total Strength

Army

484,000

38%

367,000

29%

432,000

34%

1,282,000

Navy

382,000

65%

N/A

N/A

206,000

35%

589,000

Marine Corps

173,000

64%

N/A

N/A

99,000

36%

272,000

Air Force

368,000

61%

108,000

18%

128,000

21%

604,000

Total DoD Force

1,407,000

51%

475,000

17%

865,000

32%

2,747,000

Coast Guarda

35,000

73%

N/A

N/A

13,000

27%

48,000

Total Force

1,442,000

52%

475,000

17%

878,000

31%

2,795,000

a The Coast Guard is a unit of the U.S. Department of Transportation.

Note: Numbers have been rounded off.

Source: DoD, 1998a; DoD, 1998c.



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Technology-Based Pilot Programs: Improving Future U.S. Military Reserve Forces 2 Reserve Forces Today This chapter provides a general overview of current reserve forces, including their organization, their part in the U.S. military's total-force policy, their capabilities and limitations, and barriers to their integration into the total force. ORGANIZATION Each of the 12 components of the U.S. armed forces (Table 2-1), some active and some reserve, has its own leadership, culture, traditions, policies, regulations, and, most significantly, congressional appropriations. The reserve components can be divided into many categories, each with specific operational and training stipulations, pay and allowances, and availability limitations, all formalized by law and based in part on their diverse origins. The following is a simplified description of a complex establishment and should not be considered definitive. As Table 2-1 shows, the Army's guard and reserve components (together, approximately 800,000 personnel) are by far the largest of the reserve component organizations, larger than the other reserve components combined. The Army's ready reserve (which includes both guard and reserve units) also constitutes a larger percentage of the total Army organization than the reserve components of the other military services. The sheer magnitude of the Army's reserve components led to a natural emphasis in this report on issues related to the readiness and effectiveness of the Army's ready reserve and its integration with elements of the Army's active component. TABLE 2-1 U.S. Armed Forces: Active and Ready Reserve Strengths as of September 30, 1998   Active Components Ready Reserve         Guard Reserve   Service Strength Percent of Service Strength Percent of Service Strength Percent of Service Total Strength Army 484,000 38% 367,000 29% 432,000 34% 1,282,000 Navy 382,000 65% N/A N/A 206,000 35% 589,000 Marine Corps 173,000 64% N/A N/A 99,000 36% 272,000 Air Force 368,000 61% 108,000 18% 128,000 21% 604,000 Total DoD Force 1,407,000 51% 475,000 17% 865,000 32% 2,747,000 Coast Guarda 35,000 73% N/A N/A 13,000 27% 48,000 Total Force 1,442,000 52% 475,000 17% 878,000 31% 2,795,000 a The Coast Guard is a unit of the U.S. Department of Transportation. Note: Numbers have been rounded off. Source: DoD, 1998a; DoD, 1998c.

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Technology-Based Pilot Programs: Improving Future U.S. Military Reserve Forces TABLE 2-2 Total Force Strength during and after the Cold War   Active Ready Reserve     Strength Percent Strength Percent Total 1987 Cold War 2,174,000 58% 1,637,000 42% 3,811,000 1998 Post Cold War 1,442,000 52% 1,353,000 48% 2,795,000   Source: DoD, 1988; DoD, 1998a; DoD, 1998c. Table 2-2 profiles the U.S. military active and ready reserve manpower pool in 1987 and 1998. The ready reserve is the largest portion of the reserve components and the most likely to be used first in a crisis or conflict. The standby reserve, which is quite small in numbers, and the retired reserve, whose members are not involved in ongoing training but can be recalled, are not included in Table 2-2. The table shows that, with recent reductions in the active components, the number of ready reservists is almost equal to the number of active personnel. This situation is different from the situation in 1987, during the Cold War. Contingency plans call for using forces in order of their readiness-normally, elements of the active component first followed by elements of the ready reserve. The retired reserve can be recalled on the same basis as the ready reserve.1 In the event of a very large conflict, reserve components can be used to rapidly augment manpower while volunteers or draftees are being trained. In addition to their anticipated participation in wartime, members of reserve components are playing a relatively new role-augmenting active forces in peacetime. In fact, their peacetime service is increasing. For example, some reserve components are working with active component units to enforce embargoes and exclusion zones, serving as peacekeepers, and bolstering friendly nations around the globe (DoD, 1998b). All military personnel, active or reserve, are volunteers who have an eight-year military service obligation (with various combinations of active and reserve duty). Upon entry into their service, all personnel undergo basic military training and training in initial skills. Active personnel then report to their active units, where they learn new skills and maintain currency in their specialties through experience and frequent reinforcement training. Reserve personnel return to their civilian occupations and meet for training with their reserve component units, typically, one weekend a month and two weeks a year. Most members of the reserve components are former members of active components-some serving just for the remainder of their military service obligations and others for a full reserve component career. Reservists interested in a full career quickly find that they must put in significantly more time throughout the year than the statutory minimum of one weekend a month. Unlike active components, reserve components are primarily a part-time force. Reservists have military training, but their primary occupations are in the civil sector, whereas the primary occupation of active personnel is providing military capabilities to assist in implementing U.S. national security policy. Although the political process is beyond the scope of the committee's task, it warrants separate consideration because it has had a significant influence on the organization of the reserve components. Individual members of Congress are often vitally interested in supporting the reserve units in their districts, and Congress as a whole must agree to increases or decreases in unit strengths and plays an active role in equipping reserve components. In the committee's experience, congressional and executive branch actions and conflicting views sometimes undermine positive relationships within the total force. Occasionally, as a result of congressional interests, units and missions are retained in the reserve components much longer than their services and the Secretary of Defense think appropriate. In some situations, some active component functions or unit responsibilities have not been transferred to reserve components because of fears that active component forces may be further reduced by Congress. Ready Reserve The ready reserve is the only source of organized reserve units and the primary source of reserve manpower. For the purposes of this report, the term ''reserve components" applies principally to the ready reserve. The ready reserve is divided into two categories-the Selected Reserve and the Individual Ready Reserve (Table 2-3). 1    Members of the retired reserve may be somewhat less technically proficient because they do not train in peacetime. However, these personnel are mostly senior officers and non-commissioned officers whose experience and proven leadership are important stabilizing and reinforcing qualities in a rapidly expanding force.

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Technology-Based Pilot Programs: Improving Future U.S. Military Reserve Forces TABLE 2-3 Organization and Strength of the Ready Reserve as of September 30, 1998   Selected Reserve Individual Ready Reserve     Guard Reserve Reserve     Strength Percent Strength Percent Strength Percent Total Ready Reservea Army 362,000b 45% 205,000 25% 231,000c 29% 799,000 Navy N/A   93,000 45% 113,000 55% 206,000 Marine Corps N/A   41,000 41% 58,000 59% 99,000 Air Force 108,000 46% 72,000 30% 56,000 24% 236,000 Total Department of Defense 470,000 35% 411,000 31% 459,000 34% 1,340,000 Coast Guardd N/A   8,000 61% 5,000 38% 13,000 Total 470,000 35% 418,000 31% 464,000 34% 1,353,000 a Numbers have been rounded off. b Army Guard numbers do not include the Inactive National Guard. c Army Individual Ready Reserve numbers include the Army Inactive National Guard. d The Coast Guard is a unit of the U.S. Department of Transportation. Source: DoD, 1998c. Selected Reserve The Selected Reserve receives the most training of all reserve components, is the first called upon to augment active components in time of war, and is the source of most (but not all) peacetime augmentation forces. Most of the Selected Reserve is configured into military units that have missions, organizations, equipment, and training comparable to their counterparts in the active component. Some selected reservists are fully trained personnel assigned to positions in active component organizations to provide a wartime expansion capability or a unique skill. Other Selected Reserve personnel serve on full-time active duty in active component organizations or in reserve component units. Members of Selected Reserve units, by law, must train at least 14 to 15 consecutive days annually and perform 48 drills annually. A drill is a four-hour training period, normally performed in groups of two plus two, over a two-day weekend, although a variety of combinations are possible.2 The annual training is normally performed at a major training area; drills are performed at home-station armories and reserve centers. Training, both weekend and annual, is generally conducted by a team of full-time support personnel.3 Members of the National Guard have additional requirements to serve their respective state governors. Units of the National Guard may be called to help in times of natural disaster, such as floods, fires, or hurricanes. They are also the governors' first line of defense during periods of civil unrest and may participate in state actions to reduce or interdict drug traffic. All of these activities can detract from military training in preparation for wartime, although they could enhance training for some kinds of missions (e.g., providing assistance to large numbers of displaced persons). Individual Ready Reserve The Individual Ready Reserve is a large pool of trained individuals who, in wartime, are called up to fill personnel vacancies in their service, either in the theater of operations or in state-side support organizations. All members of the Individual Ready Reserve have already served in some capacity, either in the active component or in the Selected Reserve. Most are serving out their military service obligations. Once individuals are in the Individual Ready Reserve, they have no statutory requirement to continue their training. Currently, few, if any, members of the Individual Ready Reserve are paid for training time. The Army National Guard has a category of personnel, the inactive national guard, with many of the same 2    Training requirements for individual selected reservists not assigned to units are less precise. All selected reservists must participate in the 14 to 15 days of annual training, but their inactive duty training ranges from none to the full 48 drills. 3    Each service approaches the full-time support program differently. The Air Force reserve components have the highest level of full-time support, approximately 28 percent of the authorized strength. The Army reserve components have the lowest, approximately 11 percent. The Navy, with 26 percent, and the Marine Corps, with 17 percent, fall into a middle category (DoD, 1998e).

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Technology-Based Pilot Programs: Improving Future U.S. Military Reserve Forces characteristics as the Individual Ready Reserve. These personnel are used only to fill vacancies in the Army National Guard. TOTAL-FORCE POLICY The total-force policy, introduced in 1970 by Secretary of Defense Melvin Laird, described a sliding scale of the defense-force structure, ranging from the use of active components only, which are very effective early in a campaign but very expensive, to some combination with reserve components, which are less effective early but also less expensive. The ratio of active to reserve components changes, depending on the perceived threat to the nation and the willingness of the American people to accept risk and to pay for defense. Historically, reserve components have been used to augment and expand active components in wartime but did not play a significant role in peacetime beyond the state-level missions of the National Guard. Faced with escalating costs of the war in Vietnam, the disenchantment of the American people with the military, and the imminent end of the military draft, Secretary Laird issued the following directive: A total-force concept will be applied in all aspects of planning, programming, manning, equipping and employing Guard and Reserve Forces. Application of the concept will be geared to the recognition that in many instances the lower peacetime sustaining costs of reserve force units, compared to similar active units, can result in a larger total force for a lesser budget. In addition, attention will be given to the fact that Guard and Reserve Forces can perform peacetime missions as a by-product or adjunct of training with significant manpower and monetary savings. (DoD, 1970) Over the next 25 years, the total-force concept matured into a policy that has been gradually implemented throughout the armed forces. The total-force policy has enabled the military services to rely on reserve components to expand their wartime and peacetime capabilities at a fraction of the costs of expanding full-time active component units. A limited presidential call-up authority was requested and approved by Congress in the 1970s authorizing the President to call up some reservists. Today, the President can call up as many as 200,000 members of the reserve components for not more than 270 days without declaring a national emergency (Title 10 USC, 1995). Thus, reserve components can now be used more easily in smaller contingencies. The success of the policy during major conflicts was acknowledged to depend on the ability of national command authorities to provide sufficient warning for reserve components to be called up, processed into the force, and provided with refresher training. The implementation of the total-force policy by the various services has been uneven, as was observed in a recent National Defense Panel report: While the other services have continued to increase the integration of their active and reserve forces, the Army has suffered from a destructive disunity among its components, specifically between the active Army and the National Guard. This rift serves neither the Army nor the country well. (DoD, 1997b) Approximately two of every three persons in the Army are members of the guard or reserves (see Table 2-1). This may partly explain why the Army faces particularly difficult challenges in integrating its active and reserve components. Despite the uneven implementation of the total-force policy to date, the Department of Defense's current goal is full integration of the total force. This goal was alluded to in the Secretary of Defense's report to the President in 1998: Reserve Component combat and support roles have been expanded in all post-Cold War operations, including explicit recognition of the Guard's state role as an integral component of U.S. Security...although the Reserve Components were erroneously perceived during the Cold War as backup forces of last resort, attitudes are changing. (DoD, 1998b) CAPABILITIES AND LIMITATIONS After being called up and undergoing post-mobilization training, units and members of the reserve components are expected to be indistinguishable from their active component partners. However, a debate has been ongoing concerning the amount of time required for a part-time force to become as effective and productive as a full-time force and the relative benefits and costs of reserve components for performing specific functions. Some capabilities and limitations of reserve components are described below. In Operation Desert Storm, approximately 260,000 members of the reserve components were called up to serve with elements of the active components of their services. In that operation, reserve components were successfully integrated, and the Department of Defense has used the lessons learned from the call-up to improve

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Technology-Based Pilot Programs: Improving Future U.S. Military Reserve Forces reserve component availability, training, and fitness standards. Since Desert Storm, even more mission assignments have been given to the reserve components. Although most of the reserve component units have the same missions as active components, certain types of units and skills are maintained principally in reserve components. Table 2-4 illustrates types of missions and levels of reserve component participation, including some in which reserve components and active components have significant numbers of the same types of units. Recently, reserve components have proven that they are capable of augmenting active components during peacetime, although the limits of this participation have yet to be tested. The committee was concerned that if reservists and guardsmen are called upon too frequently or for too long, this will adversely affect their civilian careers and families, and they may lose interest in staying in the reserve components. TABLE 2-4 Varying Levels of Participation by Reserve Components   Type of Unit Percent of this Unit Type Maintained in the Reserve Components Army       Prisoner-of-War Brigades 100%   Civil Affairs Units 97%   Chemical Battalions 75%   Field Artillery Battalions 58%   Attack Helicopter Battalions 45% Navy       Mobile Inshore Undersea Warfare Units 100%   Warfare Support Helicopter Squadrons 100%   Cargo Handling Battalions 93%   Military Sealift Command Personnel 85% Marine Corps       Civil Affairs Groups 100%   Tank Battalions 50% Air Force   Strategic Intercept Force 100%   Tactical Airlift 64%   Aerial Refueling/Strategic Tankers 55%   Tactical Fighters 30% Coast Guard       Deployable Port Security Units 99%   Source: DoD, 1998e. The part-time status of the reserve components, which allows them to operate at lower cost than full-time active components, is also the basis of their greatest limitation. Members of reserve components are limited by having to balance the civilian and military aspects of their lives. Military training, professional development, and peacetime augmentation typically require time away from their civilian lives and occupations, which are usually the primary basis for family income and medical benefits. These conflicts were acknowledged in a recent article in the Air Force Association Magazine: The reserve components have moved into an unprecedented partnership with the active force, but it has not been without its costs. Reserve members now share the stress of optempo with their active duty counterparts and must cope with the problems of frequent deployments and prolonged separations from their families. In addition, they face the unique challenge of meshing their military duties with their civilian careers. (Callander, 1998) Although the committee did not have hard data on the negative effects of the extensive peacetime use of part-time military personnel, based on a wide range of anecdotal evidence, the committee concluded that continued peacetime call-ups may have an adverse effect on the ability of reserve components to recruit new members and retain existing members. In addition to finite training time, training/maneuver areas are sometimes inaccessible to some members of reserve components. Also, some units have older equipment than others or not enough trainers. These and similar problems can limit the capabilities of reserve components.4 An additional limitation is the amount of unit training the reserve components are given before they must report for duty or deployment. In the current national security environment, neither the President, the Congress, nor the reserve components can predict with confidence when they will be needed or how much notice they will have. An extensive code of laws, policies, directives, and regulations, much of it dating to World War II, governs the availability of reserve components in peacetime or in war. The lengthy administrative processing required by the code significantly delays the availability of 4    Some elements of the active components have similar limitations.

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Technology-Based Pilot Programs: Improving Future U.S. Military Reserve Forces reserve components. Complicated processing procedures require everything from physical and dental assessments to new identification cards and confirmation of wills. The availability of reserve components is further hampered by the absence of a single personnel and pay database for each military service. Only the Marine Corps and the Coast Guard include their reserve components in their service's active component personnel and pay systems. The reserve components of the other services have developed their own stand-alone systems, which are not necessarily integrated or compatible with active component systems. BARRIERS TO INTEGRATION The Reserve Forces Policy Board, a statutory body established by Congress in 1952 to advise the Secretary of Defense on reserve component issues, has conducted a series of symposia to identify ways to optimize the use of the reserve components. The most recent symposium focused on barriers to integration of the components of the total force. The results reported to the Secretary of Defense identified a variety of barriers to integration. The four major ones are listed below (DoD, 1998f): lack of coordinated total-force budgeting incompatible pay and personnel systems incompatible equipment and weapons systems lack of coordinated training and military education The budgeting issue (different appropriations for each reserve component) involves both Congress and the leadership of the Department of Defense and is clearly beyond the scope of this study. The other three barriers are consistent with the observations made by the committee during its data-gathering period. The use of technology to help overcome these barriers is the purpose of the pilot programs, tests, and experiments developed by the committee. Cultural differences are also significant inhibitors to integration. To the extent that cultural challenges are the results of real or perceived differences in capabilities, such as lower readiness or lower training status, selected technology applications and pilot programs to improve capabilities could help reduce cultural differences.