Academic journal article Military Review

Reserve Component Mobilization: Improving Accountability, Effectiveness, and Efficiency

Academic journal article Military Review

Reserve Component Mobilization: Improving Accountability, Effectiveness, and Efficiency

Article excerpt

Whereas, No adequate means has been provided for obtaining the numerical volunteer force enlisted in the several counties of this State ..., the adjutant general of this State shall ... transmit to the county clerk of each county in this State a correct list of the persons mustered into the service of the United States, or of this State, from such county.... (1)


A RECENT SERIES of articles in USA Today revealed that more than 3 years after the invasion of Iraq, the military services were unable to state authoritatively how many service members have deployed. (2) The Army was best able to answer the question, but what should have been a "good news" story on this score was tainted by inconsistency among the various databases about the precise number of Soldiers who have participated in the Iraq campaign.

The Problem

Figure 1 depicts the estimate of current mobilized strength for the U.S. Army National Guard (ARNG) as of March 2005, as reflected in various military databases. The figure reveals great disparity among the databases, with estimates ranging from a low of 82,760 to a high of 108,724, a discrepancy of nearly 24 percent. In figure 2, the picture improves somewhat. Corrections for the dates of the various samples narrow the gap to about 20 percent, which is better, but still a big difference. (3) Figure 3 provides another perspective. It depicts the estimated aggregate number of ARNG Soldiers drawing hazardous duty pay in early April 2005 as reflected in Army payroll versus ARNG operational data. In this example, the aggregate number of Soldiers differs by only 148 Soldiers. But when viewed from a unit perspective, these data are also problematic: Of the 1,885 ARNG units reflected in Army payroll data as having Soldiers receiving hazardous duty pay, 334 units had never mobilized. (4)

Such discrepancies axe extremely frustrating for senior leaders struggling to understand the true status of the force. Resolving discrepancies requires virtually a forensic analysis of unit strength data, a tedious and difficult exercise. A number of factors contribute to this: Army reliance on stovepiped, unsynchronized information systems; inefficient procedures for assembling forces into discrete mission packages; and extensive unit fragmentation driven by current mobilization policies and practices. (5)

Although these examples use ARNG data, we must recognize that this is not just an ARNG problem. The problems at issue are just as pertinent to the other Reserve Components (RCs).

Progress to Date

Since 9/11, the Army has taken a number of steps to streamline and improve accountability of the force. The first was development of the U.S. Department of the Army Mobilization Processing System (DAMPS). DAMPS is a Web-based, mostly paperless system for executing unit mobilization actions from request for alert through publication of unit mobilization orders. The system has greatly improved the mobilization process. Another example is the Deployed Theater Accountability System (DTAS), another Web-based system. DTAS provides comprehensive visibility in the time and space of units and personnel deployed in-theater. Another system is the Deployment and Redeployment Tracking System (DARTS), which is a Web-based system developed by U.S. Army Forces Command that tracks the deployment status of RC Soldiers and units.

Valuable as these systems are, while they solve some problems, they aggravate others. They improve the efficiency and effectiveness of their sponsoring commands, but they can exacerbate the Army's overall accountability problem because each propagates yet another stovepiped, standalone database, creating still more instances of conflicting data. Fortunately, the Army has begun to recognize this and is working to remedy one of our most vexing accountability challenges--to correctly match individual mobilized Soldiers at the social security number level to the units with which they are serving. …

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