Role of the Reserves in the Total Force Policy

T-NSIAD-89-7: Published: Feb 23, 1989. Publicly Released: Feb 23, 1989.

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GAO discussed the role of the reserve forces in the Department of Defense's (DOD) total-force concept, their ability to carry out missions, and the difficulties DOD faces concerning its reserve components. GAO found that: (1) the total-force policy requires that reserve components be as equal and as ready as their active counterparts; (2) although the reserves' quality, training, and equipment have improved significantly over the past several years, the improvements have focused mainly on combat forces and little on support forces; (3) reserve forces account for 50 percent of the Army's personnel, 20 percent of the Navy's personnel, and 24 percent of the Air Force's personnel; (4) the lack of trained personnel was a significant factor in limiting reserve force readiness; (5) reserve units were authorized only 38 days a year to accomplish training, but used 50 percent of that time for administrative matters; (6) only 65 percent of the reservists that took a skill qualifications test in 1987 passed; (7) although the Army indicated that 73 percent of its reserve personnel were qualified, that figure related only to personnel assigned to the military occupational specialities of the positions they occupied; (8) recruiting problems, geographic constraints, and the declining number of persons in the 18- to 24-year age group contributed to the lack of skilled personnel; (9) although reserve components have the same deployment dates as active components, readiness deficiencies in reserve components could severely limit mission objectives; and (10) the reserves' major advantage is their inexpensive maintainability.

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