A decent discussion ensues over at This Ain’t Hell, my not-crazy vet blog of choice.
The general expectation Reservists had before 9/11 was “I’ll keep myself trained; I’ll serve when and where needed by the nation.” But there was an implicit but understood part of that expectation – that their service would be during a real emergency, when the nation truly needed them. They didn’t expect to be a uniformed version of “Kelly temps” called up at irregular intervals so the Army could avoid hiring additional full-time staff. But for the past several years, IMO that’s pretty much how the Army Reserve and National Guard appears to have been used – as Kelly temps in uniform.
The discussion which ensues is, for TAH, largely rancor-free. I was surprised at how many Reserve component (RC; to include both the federal Reserves and the National Guard) service members chimed in on Hondo’s original post, noting some of the unique challenges to RC service that Active component (AC) soldiers don’t always think about.
По моему, one of the hardest parts is switching contexts–moving from your civilian life to your military life and back again. If you have some kind of leadership role where you are getting contacted by subordinates and seniors throughout the month, I suspect this is pretty jarring. I have been on active duty with the Guard almost continuously since I shipped for Basic in early 2004, but I’ve seen it enough in other people, and it’s usually a contributing factor to people deciding that they are done. The theory that we only work one weekend a month is not a very useful one, and ignores a lot of what has to happen throughout the calendar. Only the most junior (or least useful of the others) get to limit the Guard experience to a single weekend.
As far as deployment tempo and the overstretching of the reserve component, I think he overstates the case a little–or at least misses a few points. For one, as time goes by, more and more soldiers in the RC are of my generation. I’d been laid off from my IT network/desktop support job for a month or so when I watched the invasion of Iraq on television and thought, “Self, that is a growth industry.” I’ve got over nine years time in service now. The younger generations in uniform now have grown up with our current conflict, and not many among us expect not to uproot our lives from time to time for a deployment and/or training. Many of us are “Guard babies,” never having done any Big Army time (after initial training, which is decidedly not “the real Army”). This is the reality we know.
(In fact, a few of us *cough* are perhaps a wee bit frustrated that we seem to be missing our turn while others go back a second or third time.)
Anyway, some good points. I have more thoughts on this, but they truthfully ought to be their own post, and I’m just not that ambitious at the moment.