Paramilitary: December 11, 2003

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The United States is continuing to mobilize more reserve troops for Iraq duty. In the last week alone, the number of reservists (including National Guard) on active duty increased by 13,384. As usual, the majority are army (148,765), with the other services having far fewer people called up (Navy- 1,585, Air Force- 18,772; Marine Corps- 7,331; and the Coast Guard- 1,175.) By next Spring, 40 percent of the troops in Iraq will be reservists, versus 20 percent now. Many reservists are unhappy with this, especially if they have been called up repeatedly over the last few years. Reserve forces were originally created so that nearly all would be called up in the event of a national emergency, but that normally only a few percent would be active at any one time for local emergencies or special situations. Currently, however, some 15 percent of reservists are on active duty. And that's the problem. If you don't activate all of them, the ones who do go, and go again and again, feel resentful because so many reservists are not on active duty. But that's the nature of the war on terror. The Iraq and Afghanistan operations don't require large numbers of U.S. troops. It's much more effective to train Iraqis and Afghans to do their own police and peacekeeping work. But until those two countries are able to mobilize and train their own manpower, some American troops will be required. Even after Iraq and Afghanistan have quieted down, the war on terror will still require a lot of reservists on active duty. And the ones who go will often be those in a few specialties (like Military Police.) To address this problem, 1,200 National Guards artillery troops are being retrained as Military Police. But it's a long term problem that has to be solved. The existing reserve system was set up for a big war that will not likely come in our lifetimes. So there are proposals, some already enacted, to reorganize the reserves for the situation as it is.

 


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