Army Reserve Forces:

Applying Features of Other Countries' Reserves Could Provide Benefits

NSIAD-91-239: Published: Aug 30, 1991. Publicly Released: Aug 30, 1991.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO examined how Germany, the Netherlands, Norway, the United Kingdom, and the Soviet Union organize and train their army reserves to identify features that the U.S. Army might consider as it restructures its forces.

GAO found that: (1) both the United States and case-study countries relied heavily on reserves to meet their military requirements; (2) the case-study countries generally assign both combat and support roles to their reserves but in many cases restrict key leadership roles and missions to their active forces; (3) the case-study countries employ cadre concepts in some cases to provide a means of expanding their military forces; (4) the Soviet Union and Germany used cadre systems to mix the experience of active personnel with less costly reserves and to provide for force generation in wartime; (5) the United States has considered the use of cadre systems to reduce the size of its peacetime army while retaining the capacity to generate additional forces; (6) the Institute for Defense Analysis has developed a force structure model providing a means of force generation that suggests alternatives to cadres may exist; (7) the Army Reserve has initiated an automated position reservation system to improve the match between vacancies and skills; (8) some countries make concerted efforts to assign reservists to positions related to their prior military service to reduce the need for extensive retraining; and (9) some countries varied the amount of reserve training according to the complexity of the mission, recent active duty service, and relevance of reservists' civilian jobs to their military positions.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: The Army no longer plans to integrate cadre units into its force.

    Recommendation: Before the Army fully incorporates cadre forces into its force structure, the Secretary of the Army should: (1) use the lessons learned in other countries to test the cadre concept at both the division and other organizational levels, for support as well as combat units, and under various staffing and leadership arrangements; and (2) explore alternatives to the cadre concept, such as the Unit Cohesion Model.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense: Department of the Army

  2. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: Legislation now requires soldiers to have served on active duty in the same military occupational specialty and skill level as the position being occupied in the Reserve component unit. DOD is examining alternatives to help ensure that military occupational specialty changes are minimized.

    Recommendation: In considering the merits of adopting or expanding the features identified, the Secretary of the Army should use the existing management process for updating the Reserve Components Training Development Action Plan to examine alternative means of increasing the percentage of reservists who continue in the same military occupational specialty as their active duty service or previous reserve assignment, particularly in the National Guard.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense: Department of the Army

  3. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: DOD does not intend to further stratify its training requirements because it believes doing so would not enhance unit coordination, cohesion, or integrity.

    Recommendation: In considering the merits of adopting or expanding the features identified, the Secretary of the Army should use the existing management process for updating the Reserve Components Training Development Action Plan to examine the feasibility of stratifying the amount of training required of reservists based on how recently they served on active duty, the complexity of their assignments, and the relevancy of their civilian jobs to their military positions.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense: Department of the Army

  4. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: DOD does not plan to expand the practice of sharing equipment due to problems this would cause when units are mobilized. It is currently testing the feasibility of storing equipment in humidity-controlled warehouses. Army initiatives are under way to combine logistics services with other DOD agencies and to contract out where possible with civilian agencies.

    Recommendation: As potential cost-saving measures for both active and reserve forces, the Secretary of the Army should review the practicality of: (1) expanding the sharing of equipment among units; (2) expanding the Army's use of humidity-controlled plastic bags as a means of storing equipment; and (3) entering into additional peacetime contingency agreements with the private sector to provide assets and services upon mobilization.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense: Department of the Army

 

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