Reserve Component Alignment with Law, Policy, and Strategy
ARMY WAR COLL CARLISLE BARRACKS PA
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The Reserve Components of the United States military are mandated by federal law to be used as a strategic force, to be mobilized exclusively under four specific conditions 1 in time of war, 2 during a national emergency, 3 when national security requires it, or 4 when there are insufficient Active Duty members available to accomplish a mission. The implication is that all of these conditions are temporary, and the reserves are to be returned to a strategic force upon completion of the mission. The executive and legislative branches of the government have frequently ignored federal law and have used the reserves to avoid politically unpopular alternatives, such as drafts and budget increases. The events of September 11, 2001 exacerbated this problem. The strategic reserve has become an operational reserve that is constantly in need to support the Active Component in high-tempo operations, operations that high-level officials predict will continue. Reserve policies and strategies have been implemented to enable the reserves to engage in long-term missions, thus formalizing practices that will continue long after the authorization of the use of force in Afghanistan expires. Civilian leadership is avoiding the hard decisions required to sustain a viable force.
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