Murphy's Law: April 15, 2001


Numbers are not always reliable. A recent example was found in Great Britain when questions were asked about soldiers in the reserve. All British soldiers are volunteers. They are enlisted for four years or more (if they reenlist.) But once the soldier is discharged, they are obliged, by law, to be available for service in an emergency. Total service, active and reserve, is 22 years. This was the deal for most of the Cold War. However, it does not work. It turns out that the MoD (Ministry of Defense) has not been enforcing the law. Reservists are supposed to show up once a year for a review of mobilization procedures. But this is rarely done. Once a year, the MoD sends out a letter to it's 127,000 army reservists. Actually, one third do not even get the letter, because they have moved and not bothered to let the MoD know where. Those who do get the letter are asked to respond by mail. Those that do get a check for $30. Most reservists don't bother to respond to the letter. If there was a ground war in Kosovo in 1999, Britain would have had to call up 10,000 reservists. It turns out that these men would not have been available. The army has been asked what they plan to do about this situation. Thus far, there has been no reply. 


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