DOD Service Academies:

Problems Limit Feasibility of Graduates Directly Entering the Reserves

NSIAD-97-89: Published: Mar 24, 1997. Publicly Released: Mar 24, 1997.

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Pursuant to a legislative requirement, GAO reviewed the policy and cost implications of up to 5 percent of each military service academy's graduating class serving in the reserve with a corresponding increase in the number of Reserve Officers Training Corps (ROTC) graduates serving on active duty, focusing on: (1) the number of academy graduates serving in an active status in the reserve component; (2) the feasibility and implications of a proposal to have academy graduates serve in a drilling status in the reserve component without having served on active duty as a means of enhancing the capability of the guard/reserves; and (3) other means through which the reserve components are recruiting junior officers.

GAO noted that: (1) as of October 1, 1996, 5,014 service academy graduates were serving in the active reserve components; (2) additionally, 424 academy graduates were on active duty with a reserve component performing full-time Active Guard/Reserve support functions under the authority of 10 U.S.C. 12301(d) and 32 U.S.C. 502(f); (3) about 4.6 percent of the officers in the drilling guard/reserves were academy graduates compared to 17.4 percent of the active forces; (4) Department of Defense (DOD), service, and academy officials, with the exception of those representing the National Guard, believe that sending academy graduates to the drilling guard/reserves upon graduation would be counterproductive; (5) they pointed to the need for new officers, regardless of their commissioning source, to receive skill training and experience before they can be productive guard/reserve members; (6) since the academies are the most expensive source of new officers, concerns were expressed that sending academy graduates to the reserves before they complete their active duty obligation would not produce a sufficient payback for the cost of their education; (7) DOD officials additionally cited a number of administrative and practical problems that would require policy changes at the academies and the selected reserves; (8) National Guard officials, however, noted that they have vacancies for officers in the junior officer grades and believe that the assignment of academy graduates directly to the National Guard would be feasible; (9) based on their experiences with programs for new ROTC graduate accessions, National Guard officials believe that the policy and administrative difficulties in accessing academy graduates could be managed; (10) the reserve components presently receive academy graduates through normal attrition as academy-produced officers join the drilling guard/reserves after completing their obligated active duty service; (11) in addition, efforts to downsize the active duty force have had a side benefit of enhancing the capability of the reserve component by getting more trained and experienced officers into active reserve status; (12) recently, these early release programs have been opened to graduates from the academies and the ROTC; and (13) since 1994, the Army National Guard Combat Readiness Reform Act of 1992 has allowed the Army to bring in 482 academy graduates and 108 graduates from the ROTC with 2 to 3 years of experience to serve the remainder of their military service obligations in the selected reserves.

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