Army Reserve/National Guard Retention Impact Due to Deployments
The United States Army Reserve (USAR) can be traced back to April 23, 1908, since Congress passed a Senate Bill 1424. This authorized the Army to establish a reserve corps of medical officers. The USAR is a key element of The Department of the Army's multi-component force. The Army Reserve's primary mission is to provide trained and ready personnel with the skills necessary to support and defend the nation during peacetime, emergencies, and war. Reserve soldiers perform only part-time duties as opposed to full-time (active duty) soldiers, but rotate through mobilizations to full-time duty.
The Army Reserves / National Guard have increased the mobilizations, which has negatively impacted retention. Many things can cause retention impacts. Some of them are: Family, Morale and Health, Financial Burdens, Loss of income during deployment, Civilian Employment, and Social Aspects. The goal of this research is to determine a solution on how to decrease the negative impacts on retention in the Army Reserves and increase the reenlistment ratio.
In this research that has led to my hypothesis, one will determine that it is in the military's best interest to view the soldier as an investment rather than a body filling a position. Happy content soldiers will better perform and want to do the jobs assigned to them rather than worrying about family and civilian life at home. Therefore, the implementation of this hypothesis will create a better standard of life and environment for experienced and qualified soldiers to protect our country and interests. Although one hundred and eleven Soldiers responded to the Army Reserve / National Guard Retention Impact Due to Deployments questionnaire, the data related to the research hypothesis of this Thesis paper is not enough to prove any theory.
Conclusions and Recommendations
The purposes of this chapter are to present conclusions and make recommendations based on the research performed on the Army Reserve / National Guard Retention Impact Due to Deployments. First, conclusions will be presented that were derived from the literature reviewed. Second, there will be conclusions based on the primary data collected from the Army Reserve / National Guard Retention Impact Due to Deployments questionnaire that was distributed for the purpose of this research project. The next section of this chapter will then make recommendations based on the conclusions.
Conclusions Derived from the Literature Review
Perhaps the most telling fact contained within the literature review is the reason for the creation of the Army Reserve unit. As the name implies, the need to facilitate a backup force, ostensibly a secondary armed guard with the skill set to assist the Army during battle operations. The creation of the reserves arose via the ratification of the Army Appropriations Act and additionally the Medical Reserve Corps commenced via the passing of Senate Bill 1424. (Hisey, 2009).
The first role of the Army Reserve unit came in 1916 with the assignment to the U.S.-Mexico border as a means of protection. The reserves are often associated with containment of domestic squabbles on the homeland, border protection, and in conducting relief missions abroad. However, major wars including World War I & II, and the Vietnam & Korean Wars included Army Reserve forces.
The ongoing use of the Army Reserve has been to enforce the global "war with terrorism," with increases to the assignment of Army Reserve personnel approaching WWII levels with additional troops being assigned as they enroll into the reserves. As the role of U.S. operations abroad expand into "prolonged humanitarian missions" (Jensen, n.d., p.1), the role of the Army Reserve and risk in occupational hazards to the troops and related personnel will increase accordingly & proportionately.
The "war on terrorism" is a function of defending national security at the borders and when specifically called upon to act. Army Reserve soldiers are deployed into Afghanistan with the mission of protecting and defending national security. A statistic that is often not cited is that approximately 1/4th of U.S. military soldiers deceased from serving active duty as a reservist in Afghanistan have been killed in action. (Lomsky-Feder, Gazit, & Ben-Ari, 2010).
Although the current statistics show that reservist enlistment is dropping precipitously, the number of reservists that apply and replace the personnel lost to high attrition is adequate. 26 of 100 reservists anticipate discharging from service after their first deployment in comparison to 18 of 100 whom choose to reenlist. (Lakhani, 1995). Nota Bene, a large ratio of Army Reserve forces whom decide not to reenlist are also possess professional designations and backgrounds, including education and experience that can provide tremendous benefits to the service. (Lakhani, 1995)
The literature review also reveals that Army Reserve personnel comprise a large portion of active military engagements. Approximately 47 out of 100 actively deployed troops are Army Reservists aggregating approximately 1.3mm. (Lomsky-Feder, Gazit, & Ben-Ari, 2010), and thus encompass almost 50% of the U.S.'s military power. Currently, the reservists represent approximately 40% of the active military stationed in Iraq. (Ibid)
The Army Reserves provide the servicemen necessary for various operations throughout the Army (Bressler). The level of attrition of enlisted servicemen should be of concern to the government and military leaders. U.S. Army ostensibly spends copious amounts of tax payer money to train, clothe, house, and feed these soldiers to only lose them after one or two deployments. For continued success with National security, protection, and defense, it is imperative the Army Reserve reduce its current rate of attrition.
Of the factors that impact retention, it seems as though the family factor may rank foremost on the list. Rand (1987) found that family separation was one of the top five reasons given for leaving the Army, while, in another study, Marines offered that as their sole reason for refusing to re-enlist (Wisecarver, Cracraft, & Heffner, 2006).
The effects of deployment on Army Reserve military and the impact on family members are different when considering military operations and stresses from wartime to peacetime. Family adjustment to the reserve soldier's Army life includes preparation for constant remobilization to different bases. Training exercises with lengthy durations create additional stresses on what are often young military couples. The absence of the soldier forces a sense of isolationism on spouses whom are unprepared for the demands of partnering with a military soldier. Ultimately, the soldier's health could be negatively impacted (La Bash et al., 2009), and cause consequences to military operations.
Morale & Health issues, Finance & Employment, Social Aspects, and deployment to hostile environments are all contributing factors to the effects of deployment on the reserve soldier. Specifically, the effect on junior and mid-grade officers were more severe than the effect on junior officers. This is likely attributed to the level of responsibility charged to the former rather the latter and the stress that comes with being assigned such responsibility.
Conclusions Based on the Survey Results
Although one hundred and eleven Soldiers responded to the Army Reserve / National Guard Retention Impact Due to Deployments questionnaire, the data related to the research hypothesis of this Thesis paper is not enough to prove any theory. However, given the small sample size, there is information that can be extrapolated from the results. Although potentially reflective of only a minority opinion within the active Army Reserve population, a gauge of the opinions within the population can shed light on potential areas where resolutions can be integrated.
The age range from 22 to 41 are most represented on the survey response form. This is to indicate the Army Reserve units are within an age range of 19 years. The 41-year-old is perhaps the eldest actively deployed soldier whilst the elder members are managerial staff. 13 responses were in the age range of 52 to 56, representing 11.7% of the response count. These members ostensibly are ranking officers. The impact due to deployments were disproportionately affecting the Male population more than the female population. There is no definitive answer as to why this is, and no means of data extrapolation exist to render a hypothesis from the data. However, one may speculate that the males had families and other obligations, perhaps financial, that created stresses effecting retention due to deployments rather than the females whom may have been largely single and not wed or with familial responsibilities and attachments.
60 of the 111 or 54% of the deployment survey response population were high school educated or had attended some college. 46% of respondents had at least an undergraduate degree to a holder of a doctorate degree. The responders largely indicated (58.5%) time spent in the reserves to be less than 11 years, or having served 1-10 years. Given the rather low response rate, one can still see that a noticeable drop off exists after years 1-2 and perhaps that drop off is representative of mostly year one and not two, as the literature review indicates. However, it appears that should a reservist make it beyond the second year, there is a good chance he or she (likely she) will…