Monday, August 29, 2011

The Merits of Merger

Recently, the Air Force rejected a proposal for merging the Air National Guard and Air Force Reserve. The proposal is the latest in what has become a periodic debate: is there merit to considering a merger of National Guard and Reserve elements on the RC? The argument for a unified USAF Air Reserve Component comes from a a group of five retired major generals with more than considerable RC experience among them. The generals (2 Reserve 3 guard) hinge their proposal on the assertion that Guard and Reserve elements are forced to compete for funding and ultimately carry out largely redundant missions. The ARC Proposal contains many of the same themes as a 1997 report from the Congressional Budget Office which concluded that a merger of the Army Reserve and National Guard would result in an annual savings of $500 million or more. Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Norton Schwartz has essentially rejected the proposal opting instead to seek cost efficiency through adjustments to AF pay systems. In an interview with DefenseNews Schwartz recently stated, "We think that sort of an approach, which is more business coordinative, is a much-higher confidence path to achieving efficiencies than sort of large, more difficult to execute organizational changes for which there is less apparent benefit."

Historically, similar propositions have been met with the same degree of skepticism. Over the years the argument for a combined Guard and Reserve has taken on different forms, and each time the options of unification have been deemed either too short sighted or too logistically complex to be effective. ROA maintains that Guard and Reserve merger talk simply ignores the fundamental distinction of the respective services' missions.

While cooperation between National Guard and Federal Reserve forces is critical to the resiliency and reliability of the Reserve Component, any proposal to merge the two ignores their distinct operational capabilities. Federal reserve forces represent a unique tool in the arsenal of our nation's defense. Many assets maintained by reserve forces do not have a Guard equivalent. ROA remains committed to preserving this distinction as a means to ensuring our national security and will continue to advocate against efforts to downgrade RC operability as a method of deficit reduction.

Yet merger talk has persisted, periodically resurfacing in the form of updated proposals, seemingly supported by new data. So is there merit to the talk of merger? Amidst the current environment of austerity is merger something to be taken seriously? Share your opinion with us by posting a comment below.

USAF Guard Reserve Proposals Part I
USAF Guard Reserve Proposal Part II


Anonymous said...

People considering such a merger need to read Titles 32 and 10 of the United States Code. The question is which way do you want to go? Do you want reserve forces that the President can access without federalizing the guard?

Anonymous said...

This is indeed the latest battle in "The Long War."

Jonathan M. House, COL, MI (retd) said...

"Action 2" of this proposal clearly indicates the purpose, which is to use individual reserve component personnel, crews, and small units as interchangeable parts for active duty needs. The whole history of the Guard and (until the 1960s) Reserve was not just to provide individual citizen soldiers, but citizen UNITS led by citizen LEADERS. As a former individual mobilization augmentee, I know the value of such "interchangeable parts," but the country needs to maintain its military traditions and flexibility. We need military units in the three components that John McCauley Palmer wrote into the National Defense Act of 1920, not just spare parts for the active force. Time to brush up on your history, folks.

Anonymous said...

Many of today's missions assigned to the Air National Guard require the individuals to be in Title 10 status when performing their job. Air Superiority Mission, Predator operations etc. are Federal Missions that require Title 10 status. The proposed merger would reduce duplicate operations, ie, an ANG and AFRC C130 units on the same air field and significant overhead cost. It would be a "leaner-meaner" operation.

Anonymous said...

I've read the entire proposal. It has more holes in it than a piece of Swiss cheese and it would require major shifts in law and in reserve philosophy in order to achieve some very murky gains.
Luckily, the Chief of Staff of the Air Force has set it aside.