Academic journal article Military Review

Transforming the Reserve Components

Academic journal article Military Review

Transforming the Reserve Components

Article excerpt

NEW INSTRUMENTS of foreign policy provide as visible a sign of American determination to shape the international environment toward peace than the presence overseas of the US Army. In transition states like Kosovo and Bosnia, only ground forces can physically police urban areas, establish checkpoints, conduct search-and-seizure and disarming operations, detect and clear minefields, and resolve conflicts among local inhabitants of different ethnicities. But in an age of decreasing military budgets and ever-expanding requirements to deploy ground forces for peacekeeping and stability operations, the US Army is stretched to its limit; its soldiers are exhausted and leaving the service at alarming rates. Not surprising, the Army has increasingly turned to the Army National Guard (ARNG) and US Army Reserve (USAR) for relief. Anticipating a trend of continued peacekeeping deployments, the Army is making a Beat effort to integrate the Active and Reserve Components (AC and RC) to meet current needs and transform the RC to meet future crises and contingencies as far out as 2025.

Reaching a consensus on a vision for RC transformation promises to be troublesome. All three components-the AC, the ARNG and the USAR hold distinct institutional imperatives for the roles they believe each component should have a quarter-century from now. AC and RC integration should not be confused with any consensus about the future of the USAR. Whereas integration initiatives like that of the newly designated AC/ARNG divisions demonstrate closer integration, no similarly shared mental picture exists for describing USAR organization and missions in 2025. Conceiving that future picture is a key step toward establishing a basis for consensus.

This article examines three important aspects of the ongoing change process. The first section reviews the impact that future war will have on each institution. The second section studies these impacts further to determine potential opportunities for reestablishing roles and missions for the ARNG and USAR that will enhance their institutional imperatives while complementing those of the active force. The last section posits a "seamless-centric" RC force structure that supports the vision of one seamless Army.

The comparative analysis suggests that the anticipated nature of future war and the emerging revolution of military affairs will work against assigning high tech, information-age roles to the ARNG and the USAR. However, the ARNG and the USAR will all but replace AC forces in the key role of "shaping" the international security environment.

Criteria for Dominance

"Knowledge, speed and power" are the core of Army transformation. Emerging technologies of the information age will enable future maneuver forces to "see with unprecedented clarity . . . anticipate with unparalleled sureness . . . accelerate the pace of movement with unequaled velocity and maintain an unrelenting operating tempo" to traverse the killing ground untouched and decide a campaign with minimal loss of life to all sides.1 The investment seems prudent as the broad range of dangers anticipated for 2025 will demand a force that can "strike rapidly, decide quickly and finish wars cleanly."2 Indeed, the four-prong research paths outlined in Joint Vision 2010, the armed forces' conceptual midrange plan for creating the future forces of 2025, all aim to achieve "full-spectrum dominance": dominant maneuver, precision engagement, full-spectrum protection and focused logistics.3 While the exact nature of the future security environment of 2025 remains an educated guess, it is clear that the US role in that complex future environment will remain active and global. Thus, the need for an adaptable, capabilities-based, dominant land force that can respond to a broad spectrum of dangers in peace, crisis and war is paramount.4

Thus far, however, the transformation has focused on the possible designs and characteristics of an AC information-based land force. …

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