The Operational Reserves

One of the defense evolutions flying under the radar for most people not immediately impacted by it over the past seven years has been the transformation of the National Guard and Reserves from a strategic reserve to an operational reserve. Along with stop losses and extended tours, deployment of reserve units as part of the operational rotation in Iraq and Afghanistan has functioned as a hidden draft affecting tens of thousands of troops at a time.

Whether or not that’s advisable is besides the point, because it’s been necessary. But being that it’s taking place, it shouldn’t be on an ad hoc basis. So it’s reassuring to see that Sec. of Defense Bob Gates, Congress and the Commision on the National Guard and Reserves that Congress authorized to examine the issues all see pretty much eye to eye on integrating the reserves into a “total force” concept.

During the campaign, President-elect Obama had proposed elevating the Reserves to a Joint chiefs status. I’m not sure how that will fly given the turf wars between branches, and I’m also not sure whether that will promote or hinder the integration process. Thoughts and feedback from any of our military readers about how that might play out would be welcome.

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