The Reserves

I did my Navy thing this weekend. I am a member of the United States Navy Reserves. One weekend a month and two weeks a year. That thing. Only one weekend a month and two weeks a year doesn’t really cover it. In order to truly make a successful military career in the reserves it requires more like four to six weeks a year and in most cases you will need to do at least a couple of six to twelve month deployments in the course of a career. I like the military. I would probably go active duty if I could. I’ve written about this before in this blog but it has been a while and it is on my mind a lot right now.

There is a significant difference between active duty military and reserve military. Two very different cultures. Two very different mind sets. Active duty personnel live in a military culture. Individuals living within that culture may not like it but they still live within it. They still adhere to its basic mores and principles. They complain about them but they adhere to them. Military personnel participate in civilian culture but they never really leave behind the military culture that has become, at least a temporary part of them.

Reserve personnel live in a civilian culture. At regular intervals Reserve personnel visit the military world. Much like the military personnel visit the civilian world, Reserve personnel never really manage to leave their civilian self and put the military culture. For every reservist there is some aspect or aspects of the military that just never seem to fit right. Whether it’s the uniform, the rank structure, the flow of responsibility and discipline, something just doesn’t sit right with every Reservist. So, the inverse of their active duty counterparts, Reservists are typically civilians who participate in military culture without ever really adopting the military culture.

For many, the Reserves is like a club, country club, or fraternal organization. A social entity. They go and spend the weekend hanging out with the other members, feeling a part of the group, a member. They belong to something. They do military things. They study and train for military activities. They talk about military activities going on around the world. They share their stories of actual military participation. Until recently these stories were usually events that happened years ago. In some of the more strenuous groups they even take military hardware out on to military reserves and hold military exercises. Ostensibly training for the day when the military will call upon them to actually be involved in some real world military operation.

The expectation of the military as a whole is that these reserve units will be able to, when called upon, integrate with active duty operations and deliver the services advertised in a real world environment. And therein lies the major problem with the current arrangement. Reserve units are often incapable of delivering fully their services in a real world environment. Typically, Reserve units require extensive training in preparation for deployment and then often require additional training once in theatre in order to be brought up to operational qualifications.

In Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm, the reserve components of our military were called upon to deliver the services they had been advertising for so long. Insofar as we know, Reservists were largely successful in the delivery of those services in that conflict. However, we saw a lot of complaining about being called to active duty. Complaints of lives interrupted, educations put on hold, and negative impact on careers and businesses. Reserve forces have comprised as much as 40% of deployed forces in the Global War on Terror. If our military is to retain a Reserve component, it is reasonable to expect that component to provide value to the military. As the Reserve component is expected to participate more regularly with active duty military, the two cultures will need to be more closely aligned.


Today’s run stats:

  • 4 miles in 41:23
  • Pulse one minute after finish: 140
  • Pulse five minutes after finish: 116

[posted with ecto]

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