Paramilitary: July 29, 2005

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American reserve troops are becoming a smaller component of the forces in Iraq and Afghanistan. From a peak of 220,000 reservists on active duty, there are now only 138,000. Last year at this time, some 180,000 reservists were on active duty. While the United States has 1.2 million military reservists, only 700,000 of them are in the army, which is the service most in demand. Not all of these army reservists have skills required in Iraq and Afghanistan. terror. By law (10 USC 12302), the president can declare a partial mobilization (which he has done) that allows putting reserve (including the National Guard) troops on active duty for up to 24 months. The president can mobilize up to a million personnel this way. Most reserve and National Guard troops have reached their limit. For example, the Army with 700,000 reserve troops, has fewer than 100,000 people left who can be activated. If Congress declares war, then reservists can be called to active duty for the duration of the war. But the war on terror is not a normal war. For one thing, the main enemy is not a nation, but an international, religion based, terrorist movement. Declaring war against such a movement would not help much because, even the army doesnt need to keep all the reservists on active duty for the duration (which may be well into the next decade.) The army (but not the media or many politicians) believes it will have most of its troops out of Iraq and Afghanistan in the next few years, and will be able to run most war on terror operations with fewer than a hundred thousand troops a year being overseas. These will include a higher proportion of navy and air force people than is currently the case. As a result of this, the Department of Defense, and especially the army, is looking for a new law that will allow the military to mobilize reservists for active duty for a certain percentage of the time. Say, two years out of every six (or a third of the time). Exact terms are negotiable. Most reservists prefer a deal like that, because then they will have a better idea of what they are getting into. There is always the risk of Congress declaring war, and mobilizing everyone for the duration, but that has always been understood by anyone joining the reserves.

 


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