A detailed report outlining how reserve-component troops are substantially less expensive than active-duty members is being sent to Congress. Based on a two-year study within the Office of the Secretary of Defense, the report is an itemized breakdown of active versus reserve components. According to the Military Times, the report states that Guard and reserve troops are less-expensive when in drilling status AND when fully mobilized, than active-duty forces. Overall compensation for reserve troops is lower when calculating noncash benefits, such as retirement accrual and health care.
The overall costs for outfitting units with reservists are less expensive due, in part, to the fact that reservists do not participate in benefits such as family housing, DoD schools, installation-based family support and moving stipends that active-duty troops receive. The military has about 1.4 million active-duty troops and an additional 800,000-plus troops in the Guard and reserves.
This report is likely to spark a debate about how to shape the future military force. No one is crying for the force to turn into just a reserve-based entity, however the mix of active and reserve components is up for debate. Top Reserve officials are concerned they are losing influence with the Pentagon and worry that the austere budget environment will return the reserves to the Cold War-era model of a strategic reserve that rarely mobilizes.
Critics of the reserves say they take months to mobilize and are not as trained as the full-time force. Experts warn to ensure an effective reserve that an active-duty force is needed to provide functions like recruiting; education; and training, acquisitions and administration. However, this new report supports the claims that reserve advocates have been promoting for years: Guard and reserves offer a bargain. More rounds of budget cuts are looming and this report has the potential to sway decisions. The Pentagon disavowed this draft copy of the report obtained by the Military Times and stated “the draft report was released prematurely.”
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