Dec 31, 2000
Many of the units the U.S. Army plans to deploy in response to future contingencies are in the Reserve Components (RC). Although all such units would ideally be manned at a wartime state of readiness, in reality this is infeasible. Part of the current mobilization plan, accordingly, is a practice termed "cross-leveling," that is, moving soldiers from one unit to another to ensure that each has enough qualified soldiers for the required jobs. This practice was employed extensively in Operation Desert Shield/Storm, and was regarded as largely successful. But even though cross-leveling can be a cost-effective means to ensure unit deployability, it is not the ideal solution to reserve readiness problems. The greater the reliance on cross-leveling, the less the likelihood that units will have had peacetime individual and collective training adequate to permit cohesive performance of their wartime mission. This project examined the extent of cross-leveling during Desert Shield and Desert Storm, the reasons for it, the likelihood of serious personnel shortfalls in future deployments, and, based on these findings, the types of policies that could enhance the RC's readiness to deal with future contingencies. The analyses make it clear that there are personnel readiness shortfalls worth fixing in the Army RC and that reducing personnel turnover is the key to accomplishing that goal. They also suggest that reducing job turbulence — the tendency of soldiers to switch jobs — is likely to cost less than reducing attrition, but incentives to reduce both types of turnover will be required for many RC units.