Weakening the Reserves, Again

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette is reporting that a Western Pennsylvania based Reserve MP Company has returned home and is fundamentally demobilized as of yesterday. Congratulations and welcome back home. I hope that these men and women will be able to transition back into civilian life reasonable successfully and that they can get the follow-up care that some may need.

However the interesting thing that I saw was in the last two paragraphs:

Military service isn’t over for all members of the 307th. Several soldiers have volunteered to return to Fort Dix to help train the troops of B Battery, 107th Field Artillery, a Pennsylvania National Guard unit based in Shadyside.

B Battery, which was activated Dec. 18, will be leaving for Iraq in February or March, where the troops will function as military police.

The military police function is still extremely needed and valuable in Iraq. However the US Army has run through pretty much its entire military police component either through deployments to Iraq or Afganistan, security at Guatanamo and typical force protection missions. Artillery units are expected to provide their own local security and guard their own road convoys, but they are not military police, they are not infantry. It is a striking indication of how thin the Army is stretched that Reserve and National Guard artillery units are needed to act as light infantry/MPs in Iraq.

This policy will continue for a signficant amount of time because the Army is running out of troops who are willing to enlist. The US Army has instituted a comprehensive stop-loss order for every unit that is scheduled to deploy to Iraq in the next five months. This article states that over 16,000 National Guardsmen have been retained on active duty although they want to retire.

As this Boston Globe article demonstrates, the Reserves are already facing a recruitment shortfall. This shortfall was “was largely the result of a larger than expected exodus of career reservists, a loss of valuable skills because such staff members are responsible for training junior officers and operating complex weapons systems.” There is also a significant recruiting problems, with a 13% underachievement of National Guards new enlistments.

The stop-loss will temporarily stop the arterial bleeding but once it is lifted there are plenty of anctedotes which suggests a large exodus will commence from both the Active and Reserve components. This will cripple the US Army and force it to either hollow itself out, discard missions or continue in a death spiral of longer deployments, shorter recuperation and reconstitution times and increased uncertainity which will drive more soldiers out of the Army. It will also lead to more situations where units which have a vital warfighting mission such as heavy artillery support will be crosstrained for only a couple of weeks in a totally different field and thrown into the mess.

So why again are Republicans good on national defense?

Crossposted at Fester’s Place