Reserve Panel's Plan Hits Brick Wall

(Sept. 12, 2013) The active-component leadership in the Pentagon does not agree with a Defense Department panel’s recommendation last week that the reserve component remain at an operational level even after the war in Afghanistan ends.

The recommendation from the Reserve Forces Policy Board suggests that the reserve components face only limited personnel reductions and be included in strategy and budget planning meetings.

But the ideas face stiff opposition, according to Air Force Times. Active-component officials want the National Guard and the Reserves to endure significant personnel cuts that everyone agrees seem to be down the road.

An official at last week’s meeting where the recommendations were unveiled admitted that a discussion of the reserve and active-component mix of the force has been missing.

“We feel like we kind of failed in that regard,” said Richard Wightman Jr., assistant secretary of defense for reserve affairs.

 Sequestration will have an impact, a Defense Department official told the panel, and that impact will be felt in the Guard.

 Robert Hale, the Pentagon comptroller, told the board, “If you face $50 billion in cuts, there is just almost no doubt that the reserves are going to have to get smaller. I fully understand that the Congress is highly protective of the reserves, especially the Guard. But if there has got to be some cuts, we’d want to have a reasonably balanced drawdown.”

The board reported earlier that the reserve component is much cheaper to mobilize than the active component. A reserve-component member requires about 33 percent the cost of an active-component member when all expenses and costs are considered.

But Hale said that’s not the only issue.

“Our operational plans require some rapid deployment of military units and that requires a substantial portion of the force has to be on active duty,” he told the board.