The State of the National Guard

March 2, 2007
Commission on the National GuardAfter "12 days of public hearings, more than 300 interviews with officials and other subject matter experts, and the analysis of documents and other data supplied at the Commission's request," the Commission on the National Guard and Reserves released a report yesterday on the state of the National Guard. Among the report's findings:

    "DOD's failure to appropriately consider National Guard needs and funding requirements has produced a National Guard that is not fully ready to meet current and emerging missions."

    "The lack of sufficient and ready equipment is a problem common to active and reserve components. In particular, the equipment readiness of the Army National Guard is unacceptable and has reduced the capability of the United States to respond to current and additional major contingencies, foreign and domestic."

    "Although the current Department of Defense Strategy for Homeland Defense and Civil Support states that securing the U.S. homeland is "the first among many priorities," the Defense Department in fact has not accepted that this responsibility requires planning, programming, and budgeting for civil support missions."

    The Administration's near constant reliance on reserve units for active duty is resulting in greater reluctance by employers to hire reservists. The report mentions a Navy Times article, "Employers More Reluctant to Hire Reservists," that cites a poll finding that 51 percent of respondents would not hire a reservist that could be "called up and taken away from their job for an indeterminate amount of time."

    "The DoD is not adequately equipping the National Guard for its domestic missions."

    The DoD's "attempt[t] to reconcile competing readiness and personnel requirements" has resulted in "an unsustainable process of forming units." This practice, known as "cross-leveling," has "deleterious effects on unit cohesion, training, and readiness and on the ability of the reserve components to provide support to the families of mobilized reservists...The negative impacts of cross-leveling are significant."

    "The current posture and utilization of the National Guard and Reserve as an "operational reserve" is not sustainable over time, and if not corrected with significant changes to law and policy, the reserve component's ability to serve our nation will diminish."

UPDATE: The Washington Post wrote on the report in an article entitled, Shortages Threaten Guard's Capability - 88 Percent of Units Rated 'Not Ready'.