Peace Operations:

Reservists Have Volunteered When Needed

NSIAD-96-75: Published: Apr 26, 1996. Publicly Released: Apr 26, 1996.

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GAO reviewed reservists' participation in peace operations, focusing on: (1) whether qualified volunteers are accessible; (2) the differences among the services in their reliance on reserve volunteers; (3) factors that affect reserve volunteers' availability; and (4) Department of Defense (DOD) efforts to ensure their accessibility.

GAO found that: (1) thousands of reservists have volunteered for recent peace operations when requested to assist active duty forces; (2) among the operations they have participated in are those in Iraq, Somalia, Haiti, and Bosnia; (3) the volunteers chosen for peace operations generally have had the necessary skills and qualifications to perform their jobs and have performed well; (4) however, past success in obtaining volunteers may not be indicative of the future; (5) reservists have volunteered when needed for peace operations, but the services' demand for volunteers has varied greatly; (6) the Air Force has relied most heavily on volunteers and has been considered a model within DOD; (7) the Army, the Navy, and the Marine Corps have had less demand for volunteers, except for certain specialists; (8) availability of funding has been a critical factor in whether reserve volunteers are used to support active component operations; (9) in most cases, the expenses of volunteer support are funded by the active component; (10) the Air Force budgets much more for these expenses than the other services; (11) the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Reserve Affairs has been working through the DOD budgeting process to obtain more funds for reserve support of the active component; (12) other factors affecting the use of volunteers are the amount of lead time available before the volunteers are needed, the duration of the tour, and whether the requirements are for individuals or units; (13) Army and Navy officials expressed concerns about the extent they can rely on volunteerism if large numbers of reservists or whole units are needed; (14) DOD has been able to obtain the reservists it needs through a combination of involuntary call-up authority and volunteerism; (15) the demonstrated willingness of DOD to seek and the President to approve call-up authority has minimized the need to rely solely on volunteers to respond to peace operations; and (16) further, DOD has taken some steps to ensure continued access to and use of reserves.

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