The Officer March/April 2014 : Page 26

The idea of merging the Reserves and Guard has come up again and again over the last 60 years. Citing a lack of accounting within DoD, the GAO summed up its inability to weigh in on the subject this way: “DoD has processes in place that are intended to ensure that the number of funded positions at its Reserve Component headquarters are set at the minimum level needed to accomplish their mission, but it has not consistently followed those processes at 68 of the 75 headquarters that GAO reviewed. As a result, DoD is unable to determine whether National Guard and Reserve headquarters are sized to be eff cient. (Photo by Cpl Codey Underwood) Af er Vietnam, DoD advocated the Total Force Concept, in which active duty and Reserves would become a “Total Force,” with the RC augmenting regular Army, Air Force, Navy, and Marines. T e troop levels decreased, but the Total Force strat-egy paid of when more than 62,000 Army National Guard members were activated to serve during Operation Desert Shield/Desert Storm. Talks of a merger picked up again during the next Iraq war, but a 13-member independent commission concluded that a merger would be too dif cult to accomplish, both politically and logistically. Not surprisingly, the GAO reports that despite many well-intentioned requests for studies on various forms of government reorganization and transformation, the data prove either inconclusive or too complex to support the recommendation of a merger. Beyond the obvious political pressures that of en lead to such requests, GAO has of en cited the considerable upfront costs of government reorganization as a leading cause for dismissal. As for the latest merger proposal, GAO’s report ef ectively rendered the issue dead on arrival. With or without a merger, the RC will continue to face the lingering prospect of substantial force structure shake-ups. Even with a measure of sequester relief, DoD continues to face enormous f scal hurdles in the near and long term. Amid the current environment of extreme austerity, the RC has been fortunate to avoid substantial cuts. While the GAO report may have rendered the merger issue moot, it laid bare a lack of proper accounting in the process. With the Quadrennial Defense Review on the horizon, Reserve and Guard leadership alike can bet the results of GAO’s recom-mended external reviews will weigh heavily on the future of their force. Fred Minnick is the author of Camera Boy: An Army Journalist’s War in Iraq (Hellgate Press, 2009). He is a regular contributor to The Officer. 26 the O fficer / M arch -a pril 2014

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