Accession Number:



Operational Reserve: Potential Impacts on Strategic Manpower Depth during Mobilization for Large-Scale Combat Operations

Descriptive Note:

[Technical Report, Monograph]

Corporate Author:

US Army School for Advanced Military Studies

Personal Author(s):

Report Date:


Pagination or Media Count:



Beginning with World War II, the US Army Reserve USAR underwent several transformations in force structure and design to meet the nations strategic objectives, culminating as an operational reserve. The ultimate ramifications of the operational transition remain to be determined, but the USARs decreased emphasis on total mobilization, increased specialization, and reduced force structure have left the Total Force lacking strategic depth. This study examines how changes to US doctrine and policies have constricted the ability of the USAR to support expanding the Total Force beyond its authorized 1,035,000 end-strength objectives. The study further reviews how the overreliance on reserve units, driven by reductions and mismatch in the Total Force structure, has limited the USARs ability to simultaneously support operational requirements and provide the foundation of a strategic reserve. While better equipped, trained, manned, and ready today, the USAR has become increasingly functional focused on combat support, combat service support, and training units that support up to full mobilization only. The USAR, therefore, remains limited in its capability to reorganize and support the expansion of the US Army beyond the existing force structure. Given these conditions, this monograph seeks to develop a more sophisticated understanding of the potential ways the USAR would assist the US Army to conduct a total mobilization, if required, to support large-scale combat operations against current and future adversaries.


Subject Categories:

  • Military Operations, Strategy and Tactics

Distribution Statement:

[A, Approved For Public Release]