Beyond Goldwater-Nichols Phase III Report
The Future of the National Guard and Reserves
July 1, 2006
This study examined all seven reserve components – the Army and Air National Guards, the Army Reserve, the Air Force Reserve, the Navy Reserve, the Marine Corps Reserve and the Coast Guard Reserve – and focused on the core strategic issues that will form the future building blocks of a sound, sustainable Reserve Component. A core theme of the study is that the Reserve Component is not monolithic, and there are few, if any, one-size-fits-all solutions. Many of the recommendations in the study are most relevant to the Army National Guard and the Army Reserve because the challenges inherent in transitioning to serving as part of an operational force are greatest for these two reserve components. Others are applicable at least conceptually for all seven Reserve Component organizations. The study makes more than forty findings and recommendations on a wide range of issues of strategic importance to the Reserve Component. At the same time, it recognizes that many issues remain that require serious attention over the next several years.
The health of the nation’s Reserve Component today and in the future is not a boutique issue that is only relevant for a small group of defense experts in and around the Pentagon. The future of the Reserve Component is an issue of strategic national importance. The U.S. military cannot do all it is asked to do without relying on the Reserve Component. If the Reserve Component is not re-envisioned to support the significant role it is being asked to play as part of the operational force, it will begin to falter – the question is merely when this will happen. Combat effectiveness will erode, recruiting and retention will suffer, and, over time, any portion of the load the Reserve Component can no longer carry will fall back on the shoulders of the active force. As goes the health of the Reserve Component, so goes the health of the all-volunteer force. Building and sustaining a healthy Reserve Component will require far more resources than DoD currently plans to spend on the National Guard and Reserves, but these resources must be found if the United States intends to maintain the military it needs to prevail in the years ahead.