Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Mother Hubbard's Cupboard Is Almost Bare

The Army has been using significant amounts of Reserves forces since 9/11 to accomplish the missions in Afghanistan and Iraq. That's not anything new, though... It's been that way since Vietnam. The Army cannot go to war without the reserves who make up a significant portion of logistics, civil affairs, and other specialties.
The New York Times published an article today (if you don't want to register or the link is broken, the article's text is here) about the numbers of reserve-component soldiers and marines dwindling overseas. That's because reservists have a limited shelf life.... There is a law that lets the president call up reservists in a national emergency without having to declare war, but it limits the time reservists can serve to 24 months. That time is tracked individually for each reservist. After you have served your 24 months on active duty since 9/11, you don't have to go again, even if your unit is called up. Sometimes, you may have served 12 months on one deployment and you are eligible to serve another 12 on a second deployment, but your unit's deployment requires 18 months... so you don't have to go. That happened with my unit. Several soldiers had already done more than 6 months active duty since 9/11 and did not have the required 18 months left on their "deployment clock." They didn't volunteer to go, so we left them at home.
The nation is running out of reserve soldiers and reserve Marines with time left on their 24-month clock. I've said it before... the guard and reserves are stretched pretty thin.