"Broken" Army Reserves.

Lt. Gen. James R. Helmly, the Reserves commander, says the Reserves ain’t doing to well.

I read this story yesterday in my local paper and I have a few questions. I would have put this in GQ but I have a feeling there are no definitive answers.

  1. What would it take to ‘break’ the Reserves?
  2. Is the Commander saying that the reserves are being under trained right now?
  3. Does this increase the odds that there will be a draft (asks the anxious mother of a 17 year old boy)?
  4. What other operational requirements do the reserves have and how will not meeting them impact us at home?
  5. The last I heard there was a call for more troop in Iraq. How far can the reserves go?
  6. Am I the only one very alarmed by this leaked memo?

No, you are not. If there were a draft, one would expect it to come soon befor elections get too close again.

I am quite alarmed by it. Anyone looking objectively at the facts must see that our new Army did not learn all the lessons on Vietnam. We are much better at some things, but not much better at others.

On the other hand, I still find it hard to paint a scenario where a draft would be reinstated.

  1. Probably no. There’s a lot less support for the draft than for the Iraqi matter. A breakdown in Reserse or Guard strength is more likely to led to a reduction in the military commitment in Iraq than in adding a draft.

  2. The leaked memo is good news. It means there is at least one military man with several stars on his coat who knows what many Americans have known for more than a year. Sometimes rotten in Denmark. Part time soldiers should not be used as full time soldiers.

The answer is obvious, isn’t it?

Clearly, Lt. Gen. James R. Helmly hates America.

Do you mean “lessons” in terms of going into a country where we are not wanted? Or “lessons” in terms of how we use military manpower? The former I’d agree with, but in the latter, the system of mobilizing military manpower today is completely different than in Vietnam. The number of Reservists mobilized during Vietnam was very small.

There’s three key ways to break the Reserves that I can think of right away. First, readiness goes in the toilet. Units would not be able to perform any mission because they are too short of equipment or personnel. Second, a large portion of the Reserves would hit the two-year statutory limit for active duty deployments at the same time, meaning that critical expertise that resides mostly in the Reserves (like physicians or military police) simply cannot be found. Third, recruitment and retention goes in the tank.

The draft is fantasy, unless North Korea invades South Korea, or China invades Taiwan, or something like that. Look, there’s already opposition to the war among something like 40 to 45 percent of the American public. Instituting the draft would immediately raise that percentage to a very strong majority. Except in the most radically conservative congressional districts, any congressman who votes for a draft at this point is dead meat. Barring the outbreak of World War III, there is zero chance that Congress will start a draft.

I assume you mean in terms of homeland security: Not much, aside from increasing deployment of Reserves certainly has an effect on our communities (in terms of schoolteachers and cops taken away from their jobs) and probably some effect on our economy (most families’ personal incomes drop during deployments). The National Guard has a much greater role in homeland security than does the Reserves, but local cops and the FBI have a much much greater effect on homeland security than the National Guard.

Yes, I was thinking about here at home.
Does anyone know what percent of our troops in Afghanistan and Iraq are reservists? Is there anything at all stopping the powers that be from extending the two year limit active duty limit? Did they already do that with the National Guard?

That happened with Vietnam as well. However, as the executors of policy they have no say in how the policy is made, so it’s irrelevant.

There’s no such thing as a part-time soldier. There never was. You’re a Reservist, sure, but the very definition of Reserve is “something held back for eventualities”, and when they are needed they cease to be Reserves.

The “one weekend a month, two weeks a year” thing has been a myth for years. In my almost four years of active duty I have spent no more than six of them out of uniform. That’s over 80% of my time spent in the military. The requirement for a “good year” is 30 days of service within the fiscal year, which goes from October-September. I already have a “good” year and I have 9 months more active duty coming up starting January 15.

Of course, part of that is because of the difficulty getting jobs. Real jobs, ones that pay. I volunteer for everything coming down the pike, and there is real competition for those jobs among people who want to stay in the service. For all their lip service, not many companies want to hire someone who they know will be gone for a long time to do anything meaningful.

So, are the Reserves “broken”? Not really, but the job market for the Reserves is. Which, of course, is why I start back at univeristy on Monday, because I actually make $2,000 more per month by doing Active Duty and going to school at the same time than I would going back to my job.

That’s what’s broken.

Let’s pretend this is in English. Thanks.

In fact, according to the article, drawing on reservists instead of a draft for military actions was a policy created by the Pentagon specifically to address some of the problems encountered during the Vietnam War.

According to the article, it’s at 40% in Iraq and that number will increase in the next few months. No idea what the numbers are in Afganistan.

And Freedom.

Under Federal law, during a national emergency, the President may activate up to one million members of the Reserve Component (Reserves and National Guard) for up to 24 months. Those limitations may be lifted by a vote of Congress. Such a vote would NOT be related to any potential vote on the draft, in case that would be your next question.

I’ll take this one. This one is a toss up. Thre are three types of training a reserve soldier undertakes. 1. Basic 2. Military Specialty & 3. Unit training probably better thought of as unit cohesiveness. As far as 1 & 2 reservist train right alongside thier Regular Army counterparts at the same schools. The 3rd is where we’re probably experiencing problems. (Speaking as a former reservist, oldly enough in the medical field) Having good equipment for trainng weekends was something of a catchall even before the war, I can’t see that improving while we’re marshalling resources to send to Iraq. The two week training tended to be superior though as most reserve units would operate with RA forces during that time.

Well now, if 40% of the forces in Iraq are Reservists and they need more soldiers, it doesn’t look like they’d let them go no matter what the law or any contract they signed says.

There have already been tour extensions. The Pentagon has already been sued by guys who have fulfilled they’re obligation and want to come home. I’m finding it difficult to see how these guys are supposed to come home when they’re time is up.

Unless they’re getting volunteers in droves.

The Army tours in Iraq are scheduled to be one year, plus a couple months of pre-and post-mobilization time. Even adding in a couple of months of tour extention times, and there are relatively few RC soldiers who have bumped up against the two year time limit. These things are watched very carefully.

And yes, reservists can volunteer for longer duty.

Yes, Lt. Gen Hemsly says he’s watching it. Watching it break. They have already started extending tours. National Guardsmen and Reservists have already sued because they’re being held after they’ve done there time.

The actual invasion began March 19 2003. There are quite a few physicians and engineers who have bumped up against the two year limit. And they are buying a lot of those re-enlistments.
If somebody could tell me what is the plan to meet these numbers that grow ever larger from an ever smaller pool of people, I’ll stop all this worrying.

Maybe the Reserves should change the way they recruit people ? Way too often they seem to be baiting people with offers of education and career skills. “Diet” military service… light and rewarding.

No wonder people who thought they would never go to war aren’t sticking around for a nasty occupation of Iraq duty. Compared to full time soldiers the reserves certainly seem wanting in combat and other duties.

The draft is pretty unlikely… not only would it be political suicide… but draftees are just about the worse troops the US could field. Lots of them would get killed and fuck up things. Modern US soldiers need to be much more skilled and trained than Vietnam era cannon fodder.

So this is the reservists fault? This is the first I’ve heard that our soldiers have been found wanting.

It’s not only the draft I’m worried about. It is the overall effectiveness of our fighting forces in all areas. What if a real imminent threat surfaces? Can our military handle it?

I think the US military are geared for conventional warfare, a “real” threat would probably be “easier” than an extended occupation and “peacekeeping” Iraqi style for which they got no training and no warning. Its just a matter of what they are effective for… and they are quite professional.

Apparently, the two year deployment limit is on the table: