Operational Army Reserve Sustainability Fact or Fiction?

  • Lieutenant Colonel Chris Marie Briand

After years of deployments, the US Army Reserve Components (RC), comprised of both the Army National Guard and Army Reserve, have emerged and been recognized as critical components of the “operational” Army. As the military continues the post OIF/OEF drawdown, the Army needs to reexamine its Total Force concept and revise its current readiness model to capitalize on the capabilities as well as the economies and efficiencies inherent with the reliance on the RC. The RC provides a cost effective solution to help field a balanced and affordable force capable of meeting the full range of mission requirements. Importantly, the USAR provides capabilities that augment, supplement and are unique with those provided by the Active Component (AC). Central to optimizing the AC-RC force mix for the Total Force is the development of a viable force generation model and codification of what has been loosely termed as the “Operational Reserve.” This paper examines and defines the “Operational Reserve,” assesses readiness and resourcing challenges with operationalizing the RC, and recommends a stratified strategic management process to exploit the capabilities and cost effectiveness of the US Army Reserve.