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Research Questions

  1. How quickly can Army Reserve and National Guard elements mobilize forces to meet wartime demands?
  2. How many reserve component units can be made ready to deploy to meet the demands of a sudden, large overseas conflict?
  3. How can policy and resourcing decisions either enhance or inhibit the speed and efficiency of mobilization?

This report examines how well the processes and timeline for generating ready forces from the Army reserve component (RC) units align with a need for rapid deployment to a future major conflict overseas. The report focuses on how the dynamics of the mobilization process for Army RC units can, or should, affect decisionmaking about force mix, as well as how policy and resourcing decisions can enhance or inhibit the speed and efficiency of mobilization. We created two models to simulate the effects of various changes to the mobilization and postmobilization training pipeline, to explore key drivers of training throughput, and to identify major bottlenecks that can inhibit fast and efficient mobilization of RC units. The analysis found that the sequence in which large and small units in the RC and active component (AC) units are put into the training pipeline affects the speed at which demand in the theater of operation can be met. Deploying smaller, quicker-to-train RC units in the earlier periods of a conflict and deferring the use of the larger, more complex-to-train RC formations to later stages of major operations appear to maximize the output of training facilities. The speed of deployment in a no-notice or short-notice mobilization may also be improved by maintaining a certain level of readiness in select RC units. For the Total Force structure, the findings suggest that the unit size and complexity should be considerations in allocation of force structure between the AC and the RC.

Key Findings

Mobilization Decisions

  • Early mobilization has the greatest effect on the ability to meet demand with RC inventory.
  • Early mobilization requires a credible warning and/or a decision to preemptively mobilize at least some units; this will not always be feasible or politically viable.
  • Early mobilization allows both training and facility ramp-up to begin earlier.

Mobilization Force Generation Installation Capacity

  • Within the range examined in this report (based on reasonable ranges specified by subject-matter experts), increasing the speed at which mobilization facilities ramp up capacity has a lesser effect than early mobilization.

Training Time

  • Policies that reduce time required for postmobilization training improve RC's ability to meet demands but may come with higher cost and/or risk (e.g., resourcing or sustaining higher levels of premobilization readiness, improving training, or accepting increased risk).
  • RC BCTs and CABs can be trained in time to meet a sudden demand above and beyond already planned deployments only if training time is reduced or they are mobilized early.

Unit Sequencing

  • If Mobilization Force Generation Installation capacity remains limited, allocation of RC postmobilization training facilities must be prioritized.
  • Large, complex RC units can sometimes clog the training pipeline.
  • RC most efficiently provides small, quicker-to-train units.
  • RC contribution could focus on units well suited to rapid deployment.
  • Smaller RC units will not be able to meet demands in the first few weeks, with few exceptions.

Recommendations

  • Focus on deploying smaller, quicker-to-train RC units in the earlier periods of a conflict, and defer the larger, more complex-to-train RC formations to later stages of major operations and transition or stabilization operations. Focusing on this type of planning effort may also provide for faster and more practiced exercise of the mobilization process and for identification of changes.
  • Focus investments on maintaining readiness in the types of RC units that must or should deploy early. Later-deploying RC units will have sufficient time to train. Additionally, if these units deploy after the initial force flow, their training can focus on transition and sustainment operations, not major combat operations. Investments in early-deploying units may include not only training dollars but also training seat allocations, overmanning, and other actions that improve units' general readiness when they must mobilize with no notice. Again, further study would be needed to ensure that maintaining such high levels of RC readiness in peacetime is feasible.
  • Consider re-creating the WARTRACE and CAPSTONE-like process of matching specific units (at the unit identification code level) to the TPFDD demands to better focus peacetime and postmobilization training. This may also allow for a more nuanced description of what makes a unit "ready enough" to deploy, and therefore save some training time postmobilization and allow for greater throughput. This approach could include early identification by COCOMs of critical theater entry training and readiness requirements, enabling better focus of AC and RC unit training plans and concomitant shortening of post-alert/mobilization training timelines.

Table of Contents

  • Chapter One

    Introduction

  • Chapter Two

    Analysis Methodology

  • Chapter Three

    Modeling Throughput

  • Chapter Four

    Findings and Implications for RC Deployment Options

  • Appendix A

    Shipping Considerations for Limiting Deployment Speed

  • Appendix B

    Mixed-Integer Optimization Model for RC Mobilization

  • Appendix C

    Robustness of the AC Readiness Assumption

This research was sponsored by the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Reserve Affairs and conducted within the Forces and Resources Policy Center of the RAND National Defense Research Institute, a federally funded research and development center sponsored by the Office of the Secretary of Defense, the Joint Staff, the Unified Combatant Commands, the Navy, the U.S. Marine Corps, the defense agencies, and the defense Intelligence Community.

This report is part of the RAND Corporation research report series. RAND reports present research findings and objective analysis that address the challenges facing the public and private sectors. All RAND reports undergo rigorous peer review to ensure high standards for research quality and objectivity.

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