Peace Time: March 12, 2003

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The United States, trying to take some of the pressure off it's active duty troops, has been working it's reservists hard. During the 1990s, as peacekeeping and service in Turkey and the Persian Gulf to contain Iraq became more frequent, so did the use of reservists. As reserve forces were being reduced by a third after 1991, use of reservists nearly tripped (from five million "duty days" in the early 1990s to 13 million a year at the end of the 1990s.) In the year after September 11, 2001, reservists provided over twenty million duty days. This strategy has worked, in that the active duty forces have managed to keep their enlistment, and reenlistment rates high. But the same cannot be said for the reserves (which include the National Guard.) While the reduction of the size of the active duty forces after 1991 provided a large number of experienced military people willing to join the reserves, recruiting new troops (with no military experience) for the reserves became more difficult. Retired troops, or those with less than twenty years service, know what they are getting into when they join the reserves. But those recruited directly into the reserves respond badly when they are suddenly mobilized and sent half way around the world. This has made it difficult to keep manpower strength up and more and more reserve units are understrength. As more reservists are called up for active duty, the ability to retain the enlisted reservists becomes more difficult. The Department of Defense is considering using the reservists less frequently, and shifting the jobs they are called out for to active duty units. It turns out that occasional (but not constant) overseas deployments actually increases the reenlistment rates for active duty troops (both first term and career troops.) As a further inducement, the reservists are being given a lot of the benefits that currently only the active duty troops get (medical coverage and travel expenses) plus new items that only reservists (income protection insurance and dependents benefits during the time troops are on active duty. Another reservist complaint is the amount of paperwork required to get on and off active duty. This is to be reduced. The paperwork and procedures also cause delays in reservists getting their active duty pay and benefits, so this will be fixed (or a valiant, high profile, attempt will be made.) More and more, the reservists are being treated like active duty troops who get to be civilians for extended periods of time. This has become the reality, and the Department of Defense has resolved to make the system adapt to this new reality.


 


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