This came across my desk the other day– a CBO report titled, The Effects of Reserve Call-ups on Civilian Employers. It’s almost two years old, but the points it raises are still valid, and possibly more so.
It made me think of some of the larger reserve issues in this war, and how the reserves and Guard are probably going to have to be re-structured to meet the challenge of a 50- or 100-year war.
Yes, it’s the campaign in Iraq that is putting the pressure on the reserve components today, but to enact a massive policy change based on what has been and is happening in one case is not a good practice. I believe the Constitutional term is, “pissing up a rope.”
No, I think the implication is how we can structure the reserve component to meet growing homeland defense and civil support tasks, Iraq now, Afghanistan now, another Iraq later, another Afghanistan later, and who knows what else, like NoKo, Iran, Red China… the list goes on. To build an active duty force large enough to handle all those would be costly and not cost-effective. The answer remains a total force comprised active duty units and their service reserve components, and a robust Guard force.
My immediate concern is the reserve. As it’s structured today, the reserve (or at least my part of it) remains rooted in a Cold-War structure. (That it is proving mentally and physically agile despite those restrictions is much to its credit.) By this I mean that the policies governing its use are designed to call up units, deploy them, win the campaign, then bring them home and demobilize them. Mobilization for war was to have been the exception, not the rule.
Today, however, the exception is proving the rule. Units and individuals are being called up, and then called up again. And then again, with a promise of more. I’m not complaining, mind you– this is why I signed up– but I think it deserves some thought if we’re to maintain our reserves’ relevance to the fight, and keep reserve service as a separate and attractive career path, instead of a frying-pan-into-the-fire substitute for active duty. I wonder if we ought not look to the IDF and the old South African Defense Force to see how well they did (and did not) address the requirements of maintaining a ready and capable citizen force in an open-ended shooting war.
Again, not complaining, just thinking. My career, however long it goes from here on out, is on the descending leg of its trajectory. I’m concerned about the reserves ten years from now.
How say you?