Army Reserve Mobilization History (1756-2003)

By Harford, Lee S., Jr. | Army Reserve Magazine, January 1, 2003 | Go to article overview

Army Reserve Mobilization History (1756-2003)


Harford, Lee S., Jr., Army Reserve Magazine


One of the oldest American traditions is the mobilization of citizen soldiers in support of military engagements. Citizen soldiers were created from all sources, making them independent of any colonial or state allegiance. Called "volunteers" as opposed to "militiamen," they normally were mobilized for a bounty to serve the duration of a conflict, at which point they returned to their civilian pursuits.

One of the earliest recognized groups of American volunteers was Major Robert Rogers' seven-company independent battalion, known as "Roger's Rangers," which served with distinction during the French and Indian War (1756-1763) and was the prototype for today's Army Reserve. By the time of the Civil War (1861-1865), these volunteers fell into such categories as U.S. Volunteers, U.S. Veteran Volunteers, U.S. Veteran Reserve Corps, Corps d'Afrique and U.S. Colored Volunteers.

Because of problems the Army faced mobilizing soldiers for the Spanish American War and Phillipine Insurrection (1898-1902), national leadership began in 1908 developing a formal structure for creating a corps of national volunteers during peacetime. This early Army reserve organization, eventually called the Organized Reserve Corps, produced a pool of reserve officers and enlisted men, which the Army mobilized as replacements for units during World War I (1917-1918), World War II (1941-1945), and the Korean War (1950-1953).

Following the Korean War, the military policy of the United States was changed to increase the number of U.S. military forces stationed overseas, fostering the continued growth of a military-industrial complex and an Army more adept at rapid mobilization. It was this heightened focus on military readiness that led to a mature Army Reserve.

For mobilizations following the Korean War, it was the Army's intent to maintain the integrity of mobilized Army Reserve units. As a rule, officers and enlisted men were not stripped out of organized units and sent into operations as replacements. …

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