Reserve Readiness Challenges in Modern Military History
Studies in Civil-Military Relations
Sales Date: November 24, 2023
- Published: November 2023
- Published: November 2023
In Part-Time Soldiers, Andrew Lewis Chadwick offers the first in-depth historical study of the development and evolution of modern army reserve forces. In doing so, he explores how a confluence of military, political, and socio-economic developments since the First World War has forced armies preparing for major war to increase their dependence on reservists (part-time soldiers who reinforce or augment professionals or conscripts in wartime) for critical and routine military tasks. At the same time, he shows how these developments placed tremendous stress on the industrial-era reserve policies and structures that armies continue to use today. For example, reservists training for less than thirty days a year have struggled to keep up with the increasingly high-skilled character of modern warfare, as evidenced by the poor performance of reservists in the world wars and, most recently, the ongoing Russia-Ukraine War.
Chadwick primarily examines these developments in the cases of the U.S. Army National Guard and the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) Army Reserve, given that unique geopolitical conditions have forced the United States and Israel to frequently employ reservists in combat over the past century. These cases, which Chadwick explores using archival and secondary sources, reveal how armies using two different reserve models—the former built around volunteers and the latter around discharged conscripts—have attempted to mitigate the challenge of maintaining combat-ready reservists in the era of high-tech and high-skilled warfare. By doing so, Chadwick identifies an enduring and often overlooked problem facing contemporary defense policymaking: how does one build and maintain effective army reserve forces at an affordable cost without causing undue stress on reservists’ civilian lives?
“Andrew Chadwick presents a very important assessment of the structures and uses of armed forces reserves in contemporary history and he posits serious questions about the readiness of the US military. Send in the Reserves! shows that the US could, in the wake of the wars of the draft era, return to its traditional volunteer system while stressing professionalism and preparedness. Yet that created a situation wherein reservists have become an integral part of the fighting force despite limited training and incomplete mastery of increasingly complex technology. Chadwick’s broader point is that we now have a system in place that has solved the challenges of the nineteenth and early twentieth century (mechanization; firepower and movement in conventional war) but that has not rendered reserves well prepared for what faces them in the twenty-first century. This is a deeply researched book with great insights for military historians and students of the World Wars, the Cold War, and the post–Cold War era.”—Ingo Trauschweizer, professor of history, Ohio University, and author of Maxwell Taylor’s Cold War: From Berlin to Vietnam and The Cold War U.S. Army: Building Deterrence for Limited War