Total Force: Federal Reserves and State National Guards

  • December 01, 1994
  • COL Charles E Heller

Never before in peacetime has the United States placed so much emphasis and reliance on the Armed Forces' Reserve Components. Since the Total Force Policy was introduced by Secretary of Defense Melvin Laird in 1970, this dependency has grown even more. The 1990 mobilization for OPERATION DESERT SHIELD and the follow-on offensive OPERATION DESERT STORM in 1991 validated the use of the Reserve Components for contingency operations and guaranteed the policy's extension for the foreseeable future. Yet, even with the renewed emphasis on the Reserve Components' roles, their legal basis, mission, mobilization, training, force structure, and relationship to their respective Active Component remain relatively little understood. There are relatively few, if any, single source references pertaining to these Reserve Component areas. This report responds to the growing strategic importance of the Armed Forces Reserve Components. Declining defense budgets leading to small Active Component forces, coupled with inherent dangers facing the world community in a multipolar world, makes the use of Reserve forces on a recurring basis a necessity. This is especially true for Reserve Combat Support and Combat Service Support Forces not readily available in the Active Components. In essence, because of the relatively short time in which contingency operations unfold, the Reserve Components have become the Nation's strategic reserve insurance policy.