Marching toward the 21st Century: Military Manpower and Recruiting

By Mark J. Eitelberg; Stephen L. Mehay | Go to book overview

11
A Total Force Perspective on Recruiting
and Manning in the Years Ahead

David W. Grissmer and Sheila Nataraj Kirby

This is a time of fundamental change in the structure and organization of the U.S. military brought about by the changing nature of threats that the military is designed to meet, the experience of Operation Desert Storm, changing domestic priorities, and tighter fiscal restraints. A smaller military force is a certainty. However, much uncertainty still remains over how small that force should be and what part should be active and what part reserve.

The "total force" policy instituted at the end of the draft placed the reserve forces rather than draftees as the primary augmentation force. During the 1980s, the reserve forces were given more demanding missions partly because the size of the active forces remained relatively constant. Prior to the beginning of the drawdown, the reserve forces were not only the largest in history but also the most experienced and well equipped. The experience of Desert Storm illustrated the dependence on reserve forces. Nearly 250,000 reservists were mobilized, with many being needed almost immediately. For the most part, the reserve forces were used in support roles, and the performance of the support units was generally regarded as satisfactory. However, combat round-out units in the Army National Guard were not deployed with their divisions but required extensive training before possible deployment.

Fiscal constraints will place a high priority on using reserve forces wherever they can credibly meet deployment dates with satisfactory readiness. As the military drawdown began to take shape, the Assistant Secretary of Defense (Force Management and Personnel) set out to define Department of Defense (DoD) policy on the future use of reserves: "It is DoD policy to place maximum reliance on Guard and Reserve units and manpower. We use active units and manpower to support scheduled overseas deployment or sea duty, training requirements, and to support the rotation base. Above that level, we plan to support military contingencies with Guard and Reserve units and manpower when they can be available and ready within planned deployment schedules on a cost-effective basis." 1

It is probable that the smaller military forces of the future, designed to meet a variety of smaller threats, will have even greater dependence on reserve forces. This makes the personnel sustentation of the reserves--that is, the ability of the

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