An effort to mend fences between the Army and the National Guard could lead to a radical redesign of both, a retired general heading a congressionally-appointed panel on the future of the service said.Gen. Carter Ham brought members of the National Commission of the Future of the Army to Colorado Springs on a fact-finding tour last week as part of the group’s charter to recommend ways to restructure the Army, Army Reserve and Army Guard. The commission was formed after a protracted battle over resources between the Guard and the Army became a public fight before House and Senate committees earlier this year.Ham’s job: Make the Army’s three components work better together.”Fractures between the three components of the Army are unhealthy,” Ham said. “It is the total force of the Army that has to work in concert.”The commission won’t issue a report until February, but early indications point to a bigger role for part time troops as the Army cuts its active-duty force to 450,000 soldiers.Ham, for instance, envisioned “reserve component units able to respond more quickly than our current models.”
Every decade or so, the active Army and the Guard fight a political battle over force structure and organization. And each side has very powerful political allies.
And every time, the argument comes down to “reserve component units able to respond more quickly than our current models.”
The problem is, you simply cannot achieve the levels of readiness and training in a part time unit that you can in an active one. And should you achieve an ability to quickly generate ready Guard units, you bump into the problem that part time soldiers have full time jobs in the civilian sector. Repeated call ups to active duty (in addition to the times they’re called to state service) forces people to chose between their civilian commitments and their military service. And more often than not, they’ll chose the civilian route- thus robbing the Guard units of their readiness.
While I teased the Nasty Girls while on active duty (I’m pretty sure there’s a section of AR 600-200 that mandates that) I’ll also acknowledge that many Guardsmen served with great distinction in Iraq and Afghanistan. That they did so often involved a greater sacrifice in terms of putting aside their home life to an extent greater than many active duty troops.