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Transforming the National Guard and Reserves into a 21st-Century Operational Force (Commission on National Guard and Reserves, Final Report)

Published January 31, 2008

This report to Congress and the Secretary of Defense, produced by the Commission on the National Guard and Reserves, is the third of three reports mandated by Congress to "report on the roles and missions of the reserve components; on how their capabilities may be best used to achieve national security objectives, including homeland defense; on their compensation and benefits and on the effects of possible changes in these areas on military careers, readiness, recruitment, and retention; on traditional and alternative career paths; on their policies and funding for training and readiness, including medical and personal readiness; on the adequacy of funding for their equipment and personnel; and on their organization, structure, and overall funding."

The executive summary states in part,

"In our final report, the Commission first assesses the necessity, feasibility, and sustainability of the so-called operational reserve, which is significantly different from the strategic reserve of the Cold War. We assess the unplanned evolution to an operational reserve. We then evaluate the factors that should influence the decision whether to create a truly operational reserve force, including the threats to our nation in the current and emerging security environment; the military capabilities,
both operational and strategic, necessary to keep America secure in this environment; the urgent fiscal challenges caused by the spiraling costs of mandatory entitlement programs and ever-increasing cost of military personnel; and the cost and value to the nation of the National Guard and Reserves. And we consider the challenges the nation faces in funding, personnel policy, recruiting, equipment shortages, and other obstacles to creating a sustainable operational reserve force.

Second, we assess the Department of Defense's role in the homeland and whether it is clearly defined and sufficient to protect the nation; the role that the reserve components, as part of DOD, and other interagency partners should play in preparing for and responding to domestic emergencies; the role and direction of U.S. Northern Command, the joint command in charge of federal homeland defense and civil support activities; the role that states and their governors should play in homeland response; the need to rebalance forces to better address homeland response needs; and the implications of these assessments for the readiness of the reserve components.

Third, we examine what changes need to occur to enable DOD to better manage its most precious resource -- its people. We consider what attributes of a modern personnel management strategy would create a true continuum of service; how reserve component personnel should be evaluated, promoted, and compensated; what educational and work opportunities they should be given to maximize the return to the nation from their service; how DOD should track the civilian skills of reserve component members; whether the active and reserve personnel management systems should be integrated; why the prompt establishment of an integrated pay and personnel system is urgent; how many duty statuses there should be; and what changes need to be made to the active and reserve retirement systems to ensure that both serve force management objectives and are sustainable.

Fourth, we explore what changes need to be made to develop an operational reserve that is ready for its array of overseas and homeland missions. We examine how policies related to equipping, training, funding, and access must be transformed to ensure that the resulting force is ready, capable, and available to the nation when it is needed, whether for war, for routine peacetime deployments, or for unexpected emergencies here at home.

Fifth, we assess current programs supporting service members, their families, and their employers. We consider whether disparities remain between the active and reserve service members' compensation, whether the legal protections for activated members are sufficient, what can be done to improve the support provided to members and their families when reservists are activated and after they return home, and how DOD can strengthen the relationship between the Department and
employers of reserve component members.

Sixth, we scrutinize the organizational and structural changes required to support a truly operational reserve force: specifically, changes to remove cultural barriers that hamper the effective use of the reserve components, changes to the categories used to manage the reserve components,changes to the Office of the Secretary of Defense, and changes within the reserve components and their headquarters.

For these topics, we address the issues and discuss in detail the areas where we believe reform is required, explain how we arrived at ourconclusion that reform is urgently needed, state the principles we believe should guide reform, and make specific recommendations to solve the problems identified. Where possible, we have articulated appropriate milestones and benchmarks to gauge progress toward the fullimplementation of those recommendations.

Finally, we identify the Commission's vision, or end state, for the future National Guard and Reserves: what it will mean to be an operational guardsman and reservist of the 21st century; what their future roles and missions will be; how they will be integrated into the total force; what the nature will be of the compact between the reservists and their families, employers, and the nation; what future career paths for reservists will look like; and what organizational structures, laws, and
policies affecting personnel, compensation, benefits, training, equipping, mobilization, and funding will look like. All our recommendations are geared to achieving this end state."

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