Merging the Army Guard and Reserve

I want to draw others’ attention to U.S. Army (Ret.) Maj. Gen. Richard A. Platt’s letter to the editor, “Merge Guard and Reserve,” in the current issue of Armed Forces Journal. I would have preferred the letter have been expanded and published as commentary, but Gen. Platt nonetheless makes a provocative point: To merge our Reserve component into the National Guard, creating a single inactive force and shuttering redundant offices (HQs, support, etc.) and reducing personnel costs.Thus, we could reduce costs, promote efficiency and have more soldiers available for natural disasters and other civil emergencies. It’s an idea I’ve thought of, but have yet to venture down the line of thought too far. I’m happy Gen. Platt has. I think it’s a very attractive idea. So seemingly obviously “good” that there must be issues with the idea. I’d like to hear some of those issues.

In a column later in the same issue, U.S. Army Reserve (Ret.) Col. Paul G. Shelton argues a Reserve Affairs Officer specialty be created to advise both Active and Reserve components of the Army. He provides a number of good reasons for doing this alone but I think it worth considering his idea as a complement to Gen. Platt’s idea of merging the Reserve and Guard. The Reserve Affairs Officer specialty could be easily realigned to carry out the exact same duties for each (and once combined, one) inactive component. Indeed, such officers would likely be instrumental in the integration of the two inactive components.

Then, the Reserve Affairs Officers (renamed to National Guard Affairs Officer specialty) could provide advice to the Active component from the perspective of all possible deployable units. The savings offered by each proposal are also complementary. We need this kind of radical-ish thinking in these budget times. It also makes sense as the disruptions in civilian lives and communities caused by Reserve and National Guard mobilizations are often similar. Maybe most important, this plays directly into the Army’s professed desire for a new Total Force Doctrine.

These two proposals seem to go well with one another. More discussion is needed.

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