The four-star chief of the National Guard Bureau said he does not envision the Reserve components growing in size, as some have suggested, for a simple reason: The Pentagon simply doesn’t have the money to make that happen.
Army Gen. Frank Grass said the optimal force mix between the active and Reserve components is under review by the Defense Department’s top planners.
But any proposed adjustments to the ratio between active and Reserve forces should pencil in today’s Army National Guard and Air National Guard end strength, about 460,000, as a cap, he said.
“It’s very difficult for me to support a plan that grows it,” Grass said at a breakfast meeting with defense reporters in Washington on Tuesday.
He said the current federal government spending caps known as sequestration are driving that conclusion. “Even if we grew the Guard, we’re not getting any new money unless somebody changes the [sequestration] law,” he said.
Grass and others say the Reserve components offer taxpayers a bargain that could allow the military to preserve force-structure capacity for emergencies without paying for a massive full-time force.
But many military leaders say Reserve component troops do not offer the same level of peak readiness because they don’t train as often and take time to mobilize in a crisis.
“That discussion is something we hope to bring out in the [Quadrennial Defense Review],” Grass said, referring to the Pentagon’s once-ever-four-years internal assessment, the next version of which is due for release in February.