Assessing the Structure and Mix of Future Active and Reserve Forces

Final Report to the Secretary of Defense

by Bernard D. Rostker, Charles Robert Roll, Jr., Marney Peet, Marygail K. Brauner, Harry J. Thie, Roger Allen Brown, Glenn A. Gotz, Steve Drezner, Bruce W. Don, Ken Watman, et al.


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This study examines the structure and appropriate mix of active and reserve forces. It analyzes policy issues surrounding the Total Force (that is, active and reserve forces), to include history and effectiveness during the Persian Gulf War. It also evaluates several mixes of active and reserve forces assuming a range of manning and funding levels. With respect to land forces, the study estimated how long it took different types of units to prepare for combat, concluding that reserve support units were the most critical because they managed the overseas deployments, but the readiness of reserve combat units was the most controversial. The study estimated it would take 128 days to prepare a brigade-sized unit for combat. A number of techniques could reduce that time, but rounding out active units at a lower level (e.g., company or battalion) offered the greatest potential for saving time. The study contains detailed analyses of force structures for Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps units. It also addresses the ability to sustain different reserve structures and ways to improve the readiness of reserve combat forces.

This report is part of the RAND Corporation Monograph report series. The monograph/report was a product of the RAND Corporation from 1993 to 2003. RAND monograph/reports presented major research findings that addressed the challenges facing the public and private sectors. They included executive summaries, technical documentation, and synthesis pieces.

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