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Homeland Security and the Reserves: Threat, Mission, and Force Structure Issues

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Congressional rept.

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Since the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, many have suggested expanding the use of the reserves, particularly the National Guard, for homeland security. If terrorism is a threat that is mostly additive to the threats to U.S. national security that existed before September 11, 2001, then reserve force structure might require few changes. If, however, policy makers believe terrorism should have a higher priority, displacing some existing overseas threats, then some existing force structure might have much less relevance to domestic operations, and would have to be altered. Over the past two decades, the reserves have shifted much of their peacetime effort from training for wartime tasks to participating in current active force missions. Denying the active forces access to these reserve resources, due to a restructuring of reserves toward homeland security missions, most likely would reduce the readiness of U.S. forces, at least in the near term. Also, a force with mostly internal security responsibilities might not be an attractive prospect for potential recruits. At present, some reservists can be enticed to join or remain in the reserves by, among other incentives, real-world missions that are part of real overseas contingencies. On the other hand, homeland security duty could attract some recruits not drawn to foreign travel, but energized by participating in direct defense of American soil. Some have suggested that reorienting the reserve components toward domestic duties could pose troubling questions for civil-military relations. The extent to which this becomes a major issue, now as before, will almost certainly depend on the extent to which the public views such a military presence as necessary and desirable. Policy issues include the proper balance between the domestic and international aspects of an anti-terrorism war, the reserves involvement in it, and the related priorities for programs and resources.

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  • Administration and Management
  • Military Forces and Organizations
  • Civil Defense
  • Unconventional Warfare

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