Paramilitary: May 14, 2003


The million American National Guard and reserve troops have seen increased mobilizations for active duty since the 1990s. At first it was help out with peacekeeping in the Balkans and patrolling the No-Fly Zones in Iraq. But since September 11, 2001 there have been more mobilizations for providing security in the United States, including guarding military bases. A quarter of a million were mobilized for the Iraq campaign, and some 100,000 of these troops were sent to the Persian Gulf. The repeated call ups for some units are causing problems keeping existing troops in uniform, and attracting new recruits. National Guard and reserve troops join to be part time soldiers (about 45 days of duty a year), and available for national emergencies. The first signs of trouble were with units called up for peacekeeping duty. Many troops felt that this was not the kind of "national defense" active duty they had signed up for. Then came September 11, 2001, and hundreds of thousands of troops were called up to basically perform guard duty. At first, no one could really complain about that. But this massive use of reservists brought another ugly little aspect of military life. The reservists and active duty troops don't always get along too well. The active duty people, even though they tend to be younger and less experienced than many reservists, take the attitude that active duty makes one a superior creature. This particularly grates on the older and more experienced reservists, especially those who were in the active forces before they joined the reservists (something the military encourages.) There are also some retired military personnel who go into the reserves. Imagine how these guys feel when some young active duty soldier comes by and cops an attitude. While this has always been a problem, it's now becoming a decisive factor in causing many reservists to not re-enlist. Some states are looking at losing a quarter or more of their National Guard personnel, and many reserve units are in the same boat. The Department of Defense has made noises about cutting the National Guard and reserve strength anyway, but this won't help if a lot of your best people are getting out.




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