Report: US needs to invest in National Guard and Reserves

Tuesday - 9/28/2010, 3:40pm EDT

Travis Sharp, research associate, Center for a New American Security

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The "weekend warriors" don't just work on the weekends anymore.

The National Guard and Reserves has become an indispensable part of military operations, according to a report from the Center for a New American Security called "An Indispensable Force: Investing in America's National Guard and Reserves."

The Guard and Reserves makes up nearly half of the military's manpower in Iraq and Afghanistan, the report said.

However, investment in the Guard and Reserves has not caught up with the reliance on them, said Travis Sharp, a research associate at CNAS, in an interview with the DorobekINSIDER.

The CNAS study found at least 25 percent of Guard and Reserves lacked equipment they required.

"When you don't train on the equipment you're going to use during a deployment, you're just not as ready, it takes more time to get trained up and the overall effect is to hurt U.S. military effectiveness," Sharp said.

Sharp said the reasons for policymakers' delay in investing in the Guard and Reserves are the continued idea of them as the "weekend warriors," as well as a "lingering rivalry" between Guard and Reserves and the full-time active duty military.

With the defense budget expected to fall in the years to come, the Guard and Reserves can provide a cost-effective solution.

"They only serve part-time, and a lot of them have skills they acquired in their civilian careers that are very difficult to find in the full-time active duty ranks," Sharp said.

Sharp said two main reforms can be instituted.