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Reserve Component Personnel Issues: Questions and Answers

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Technical Report

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Congressional Research Service Washington United States

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The Constitution provides Congress with broad powers over the Armed Forces, including the power to to raise and support Armies, to provide and maintain a Navy, to make Rules for the Government and Regulation of the land and naval Forces and to provide for organizing, arming, and disciplining the Militia, and for governing such Part of them as may be employed in the Service of the United States.... In the exercise of this constitutional authority, Congress has historically shown great interest in various issues that bear on the vitality of the reserve components, such as funding, equipment, and personnel policy. This report is designed to provide an overview of key reserve component personnel issues. The term Reserve Component refers collectively to the seven individual reserve components of the Armed Forces the Army National Guard of the United States, the Army Reserve, the Navy Reserve, the Marine Corps Reserve, the Air National Guard of the United States, the Air Force Reserve, and the Coast Guard Reserve. The purpose of these seven reserve components, as codified in law at 10 U.S.C. 10102, is to provide trained units and qualified persons available for active duty in the armed forces, in time of war or national emergency, and at such other times as the national security may require, to fill the needs of the armed forces whenever more units and persons are needed than are in the regular components. During the Cold War era, the reserve components were a manpower pool that was rarely tapped. From 1945 to 1989, reservists were involuntarily activated by the federal government four times, an average of less than once per decade. Since the end of the Cold War, the nation has relied more heavily on the reserve components.

Subject Categories:

  • Personnel Management and Labor Relations
  • Military Forces and Organizations

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