DeM Banter: One (of many) holes in this logic…why would anyone sign up? Recall the Brits are facing issues with not being able to meet their recruiting goals as they switched to a heavier reserve component. If you are working 40-60 hours a week to feed the family…would folks take on an additional reserve job–when they know they will be called up frequently? Would employers choose to hire said reservist? I am in awe of our reservists today in all they do…many are full time reservists If that is the intent here…we are simply shifting the retirement benefits–is that the right thing to do? It’s all about choices…what sort of military does America want? At the expense of what?
September 9, 2013
The behind-the-scenes tug of war between the military’s active and reserve components will be on public display in early September when an influential Pentagon advisory group plans to meet and vote on formal recommendation for the future role of part-time troops.
The Reserve Forces Policy Board will likely urge the Pentagon’s top brass to adopt a strategy that relies heavily on part-time troops and continues to deploy reservists as an operational force even after the 2014 drawdown in Afghanistan, according to officials familiar with the discussions.
Former Defense Secretary Leon Panetta formally asked the board last year to provide policy recommendations that could be central to the budget and strategy reviews that the Pentagon is facing this fall due to the budget cuts known as sequestration.
The vote on Sept. 5 will help crystallize the debate between the Pentagon’s two camps as they begin to prepare next year’s budget that will require a roughly 10 percent cut reduction from 2012 levels.
“There are some no-kidding battle lines being drawn,” said one reserve official who spoke on condition of anonymity.
At stake are billions of dollars in military spending that could pay for personnel, training programs and modernization of weapons and gear.
Reserve advocates argue that the reserve components are cheaper than the active-duty units, in part because active-duty troops get a more generous pension benefit and make costly change-of-station moves every few years. An internal Pentagon study reached the same conclusion.
Meanwhile, some of the Pentagon’s top brass say reserve units maintain a lesser degree of readiness and relying on them too much could put the nation at risk during a crisis.
“I compare it to football,” Army Chief of Staff Ray Odierno said at a recent appearance at the American Enterprise Institute in Washington. “You know, the difference between National Guard, reserve and active component is the active component can practice every single day. The Guard gets to practice 39-40 days out of the year. So if you want a football team that can do one practice a month and then have two weeks spring training, versus a force that can train every single day, there’s a difference.”
Meanwhile, the Air Force’s debate about active and reserve balance is now in the hands of a blue-ribbon commission that Congress created last year in response to the Air Force leadership’s controversial proposal for substantial cuts to its reserve components.
In July, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said deep cuts to the force will be required if Congress does not lift the spending caps under current law and restore the Pentagon budget to previously planned levels. He informally proposed end-strength numbers that suggested the active duty Army might take a bigger hit than the reserves.
“The [force] mix question is a complicated question,” said a senior Pentagon official who was involved in the recent Pentagon budget and strategy review.
“We’re going to continue to look at the proper balance between the active and reserve, even under reduced fiscal levels, because it’s a way we have to get to a balanced budget,” the official said.