Critical Manpower Problems Restrict the Use of National Guard and Reserve Forces

FPCD-79-58: Published: Jul 11, 1979. Publicly Released: Jul 11, 1979.

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U.S. Reserve forces have manpower problems that would seriously limit their ability to perform if needed quickly in wartime. In 1973 the United States adopted the All-Volunteer Force concept to staff its military forces. One of the important changes implemented, along with the All-Volunteer Force, was the total force concept, which declared an integration of the roles of the active and Reserve components into one unified fighting force.

Both combat and combat support and combat service support units in the Selected Reserve would be scheduled for deployment in the early phases of a major war in Europe. However, serious manpower shortages limit the Reserves components' ability to perform their wartime missions. The overall shortage amounts to about 200,000 people. Most of the shortages are in the Army components. Aggravating the manpower shortages is the fact that many people already in the Reserve forces are not qualified for their assigned jobs. Further complications are caused by personnel turnovers when more than the desired number of experienced people are lost and, in turn, are replaced by people who may be new to the military or to the jobs they are doing in the Reserves.

Recommendation for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed

    Comments: Please call 202/512-6100 for additional information.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should assign specific responsibility for designing and implementing solutions to these problems and direct that the designated action office increase full-time support in the Army Guard and Reserve; develop incentives for service in the Reserve components; and improve readiness and deployablity through organizational changes. The plan should include estimates of the cost and effects of various program levels for alleviating manpower shortages and improving the readiness of the Reserves; and provide for collecting data needed to assess the effectiveness of these programs. The Secretary should present the plan to Congress together with his recommended actions.

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