Thursday, November 15, 2007

The Role of the Reserve

Philip Carter has a report over at Progressive Policy Institute that talks about how overstretched our military reserves are. This means that if there were a major disaster or terrorist attack, we be in deep trouble:

Between December 2005 and November 2006, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) conducted a major study of National Guard readiness in four states -- California, Florida, New Jersey, and West Virginia -- to gauge how current operations were affecting the Guard's readiness to execute its domestic mission. The GAO study assessed readiness holistically, looking at objective manpower and equipment statistics, as well as subjective measures of readiness like commanders' evaluations of their units. According to the GAO, 20 states and territories said they had an "inadequate capability" to execute 10 core domestic-security missions. The states' largest area of concern was their readiness to respond to a chemical, biological, nuclear, radiological or high-yield explosive device.

This is not only a good way to talk about the current war, since this is a practical argument to start withdrawing troops, but it's also a good way to think about foreign policy generally. Our military is built on volunteer forces and therefore isn't built to sustain a long occupation. Instead it's built as a force to complete brief missions abroad and have a reserve force at home that can mobilize quickly. With the state our forces are in now, it looks like we're opening ourselves up for the next attack. And that is truly dangerous.

Cross-posted on

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