Future of the National Guard and Reserves in the 21st Century

This project is a comprehensive study of the changed and changing role of America's National Guard and Reserve Forces

Today the United States is relying on its National Guard and Reserves to an almost unprecedented degree. Originally conceived as a strategic reserve for the active military in the event that a war proved longer or more difficult than planned, the Reserve Components have taken on the full range of military missions. National Guard and Reserve soldiers now participate in:

  • The earliest days of major combat;
  • Stability and reconstruction;
  • Homeland defense and civil support;
  • Partner capacity building;
  • Coordination with militaries all over the world.

Recognizing how fundamental the Reserve Components have become to Department of Defense operations, the time has come to reexamine the foundation upon which the Reserve Components have been built. Toward this end, CSIS has conducted a comprehensive study, entitled The Future of the National Guard and Reserves in the 21st Century, which addresses the following questions:

  • What should be the roles and missions of the Reserve Components?
  • How should the Reserve Components be organized, trained and equipped for the future?
  • How should the social compact between Guard and Reserve soldiers, their families, their employers and the Department of Defense change to reflect the new roles and requirements being asked of the nation’s citizen-soldiers?

The study provides practical, actionable recommendations to answer these questions for the defense leadership, both civilian and military, as well as Congress and the public. Led by Christine Wormuth, the Guard and Reserve study is part of the larger CSIS Beyond Goldwater-Nichols project run by Dr. Clark Murdock.