TUNE IN: Taking Action on AI Today and in the Future

RSVP to join our online audience

Center for American Progress

Transforming the Reserve Component for the 21st Century

Transforming the Reserve Component for the 21st Century

As the National Guard and Reserves face unprecedented demands, military and defense policymakers are reassessing the roles of the reserve component in meeting our country's changing and expanding security needs. The Association of the U.S. Army, Center for American Progress, and Center for Peace and Security Studies recently held a conference where prominent speakers offered a range of perspectives on what needs to be done. Here is a sampling of the discussion. (Page numbers refer to exact pages in conference transcript.)

Gone, long gone, are the days when Guard and Reserve service meant one weekend a month and two weeks a year. Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-NY), p. 5

Today's policies for deploying forces abroad risk breaking the all-volunteer force. Sen. Jack Reed (D-RI), p. 16

DOD says the use of reservists is now at an unsustainable level. The GAO indicates there is risk we'll run out of reservists to mobilize if Iraq operations continue at their current pace. Reenlistment and retention rates are at risk. Stop-loss may be masking a significant future personnel problem. Our national security strategy relies heavily on the reserve component and it's clear that changes – major changes are necessary. John D. Podesta, Center for American Progress, p. 23

. . .I think we're overusing the reserve component, and so my big concerns about the Reserves and the Homeland Security mission are: a) that we're going to potentially drive people out of the Reserve, and b) that we're sometimes depriving communities of much of their first responder force in one fell swoop when we deploy a given unit overseas. Michael O'Hanlon, The Brookings Institution, p. 77-78

We mobilize our reserves when we need them – and lately we've needed them a lot. There is a cost – to communities, to employers and to families – when we call them to active duty. Dean Robert Gallucci, The Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service, p. 4

[A]t some juncture you reach a point where volunteerism will no longer get you where you need to go, and certainly we are at that point. Richard Stark, Center for Strategic and International Studies, p. 30

We are currently in another very unpopular war and I don't think much consideration was given at the time that that decision was made to go to war about the impact on the reserve component. Hans Binnendijk, National Defense University, p. 33

There's been great continuity in defense policy, but I don't think we have yet fully tapped the potential of the all-volunteer force. Bernard Rostker, RAND Corporation, p. 27

[O]ur Army, and more importantly your Army, is facing a formidable challenge in the future, but with that challenge also comes some opportunities. Robert Durbin, U.S. Army, p. 35

[Y]ou really need to rebalance the size of the defense pie that you're putting into land forces – total land forces. . . It takes time to do this . . . at least 12 years. Theodore Stroup, Association of the U.S. Army, p. 43

When you call out the Guard and Reserves, you call out America. You call out everybody in America and every hometown in America; every school, every church, every community. . . . Steven Blum, National Guard Bureau, p. 92

The National Guard is precisely in my opinion what their name says: our National Guard. They are here to protect our nation… inside our borders. I do not believe that it is the role of the National Guard to go over and occupy foreign countries. That isn't their job. Former Navy Seal and Former Gov. Jesse Ventura (I-MN), p. 51

We do anticipate that – and it certainly is foreseeable – that a terrorist group such as al Qaeda might possess offensive capabilities that would exceed the defensive capabilities normally associated with police departments. Al Qaeda may be too powerful for police officers to effectively defeat the attack. Paul McHale, Department of Homeland Defense, p. 66

When people are deployed, whether they're active duty or reserve component, they need to have absolute equity in terms of the equipment they are given, the kind of training and preparation they're given, the pay they're provided while deployed, and the overall support to them and their families. Michèle Flournoy, Center for Strategic and International Studies, p. 90

CBO has estimated that the average cost of providing healthcare in 2005 would be about $2,200 for single reservists per year and about $7,700 for reservists with dependents per year. Carla Tighe Murray, Congressional Budget Office, p. 102

In Iraq, we've got the same level of force and even higher than what we had for the major combat operation. . . . James Snyder, Army Reserve, p. 99

More on Transforming the Reserve Component for the 21st Century

The positions of American Progress, and our policy experts, are independent, and the findings and conclusions presented are those of American Progress alone. A full list of supporters is available here. American Progress would like to acknowledge the many generous supporters who make our work possible.