The composition of America’s military has changed a lot in the past 20 years. With increasing military budget cuts the military began shifting more of its assets, i.e. military soldiers, into the Individual Ready Reserves (IRR). This creates a workforce military. A workforce military transfers a majority of the financial responsibility on the worker and on companies to support the soldier and their families. There are approximately 550,000 Army National Guard and Reserve in the IRR. (Zoroya 2012) About 188,000 reservists are serving on active duty. That leaves a large military reserve army being supported by businesses and corporations. (Garamone 2004)
Even though the Ready Reserve was established in 1908 it wasn’t used very much because we had a large military force. As times have changed and the economy puts pressure on the country to finance an affordable military this brings the Ready Reserve to the forefront of the battlefield. The military has to turn to the surplus of qualified and skilled soldiers in order to fight any war or conflict the U.S. engages in.
America has been engaged in many wars, conflicts and humanitarian reliefs since the 1980’s. From Desert Storm to the War on Terrorism soldiers have been and are currently deployed to various foreign countries fighting many battles. When a conflict or war is initiated the need for more qualified and trained soldiers’ increases. This is where the IRR can be activated and used to its full potential. An example of this is the 30th Heavy Separate Brigade that was deployment on February 12, 2004. The brigade includes units from New York, Minnesota, Maryland, California, West Virginia, and Illinois.(Jim Garamone 2004) Jim Garamone states, “The core of the brigade is the 3,500 members of the Old Hickory Brigade base in Clinton, North Carolina. This brigade will serve with the 1st Infantry in Iraq.”
Being the largest activated reserve military doesn’t come without drawbacks. The differences between enlisted, and reservists become more apparent during a deployment. For many reservists they will leave behind a family and a job. The military has concentrated support on the base for active duty families. This doesn’t work for the reservists, whose family might be hundreds of miles from a military base. There are new organizations forming every year to help the reservist family with support. (Jim Garmone 2004)
- Study Findings Reveal Factors Underlying Suicides In The Army National Guard (medicalnewstoday.com)
- World-Herald editorial: Reflecting on the Iraq War (omaha.com)
- East coast reservists join U.S. war simulation (cbc.ca)