The Future of the National Guard and Reserves
July 12, 2006
The way the United States uses its National Guard and Reserves has been evolving over the last decade, but for many of those years the changes went unnoticed, even by members of the defense community. With the September 11 attacks and subsequent operations in Afghanistan and Iraq, however, the curtain has been raised on this process of transformation. Americans now see that the National Guard and Reserves are not just waiting in the wings in case the country goes to war, but rather are already an integral part of the military’s operational force deployed around the world.
Is this remarkable change a short-term reaction to current events, or is it an appropriate shift for the longer term in light of future security challenges? How should the Reserve Component (RC) be organized, trained, and equipped to carry out the roles and missions of the future? What does it mean today to serve as a citizen-soldier, and does the social compact between the Department of Defense (DoD), RC members, their families, and their employers reflect these realities? In early 2005, the International Security Program (ISP) at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) began an examination of these important issues as part of its ongoing Beyond Goldwater-Nichols project. The Guard and Reserve study team’s goal was to provide practical, actionable recommendations to DoD to help shape the Reserve Component effectively for the future.