Efficiency of Reserve and Guard Training Has Improved Since 1974, but More Can Be Done

FPCD-79-59: Published: Jul 30, 1979. Publicly Released: Jul 30, 1979.

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To assure a swift transition in case of war or national emergency, modern military strategy depends on the Selected Reserves to quickly augment the Active Forces with skilled reservists. The ability of the Selected Reserves to perform is questionable because of critical manpower weaknesses, two of which are the shortage of qualified people and high turnover rates. The use of training time directly affects Reserves' qualifications, personnel shortages, high turnover rates, and readiness. The review of Reserve training was based mostly on questionnaires mailed to reservists and unit commanders, and the results were compared to those of a 1974 review.

Until the Department of Defense makes substantive changes in how training time is spent, it is unlikely that conditions will improve. Although skills and opportunities for mission training in official jobs vary widely among units and members, nearly all reservists are required to attend the same number of drill sessions and active duty each year. However, since the 1974 review, idleness has decreased from 22 percent of drill time to 11 percent. The survey indicates that the more time reservists spend training or working in their official jobs, the more satisfied they are with the drill and active-duty training programs. In the current study, 79 percent of the unit commanders said their members needed more training, as opposed to 47 percent in 1974. One way to provide the needed training is to assign more of the responsibility for it to the Active Forces. Another way training could be improved is to increase the length of active duty and reduce the length of drill time. Any new approach must offer enough incentives for reservists to become fully qualified to perform their official jobs.

Recommendation for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed

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

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should analyze Reserve training alternatives for each of the services and spell out specific advantages and disadvantages for the Congress' consideration. The analysis should consider (1) the feasibility and cost of basing reservists' pay on expertise and ability to meet training and personnel requirements; and (2) the availability of equipment, facilities, and other support requirements. In addition, it is recommended that the Secretary direct the services to: (1) expand mutual support and service affiliation agreements, including arrangements to use the facilities and equipment of the Active Forces for Reserve training, particularly in those components where little or no progress has been made since 1974; (2) reduce or eliminate much of Reserve units' administrative workload; and (3) restrict the use of reservists' time spent outside their official jobs on activities that are not mission essential.

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