Military Reserve: History, Function and Purpose


The national reserve forces of the United States are comprised of highly trained individuals who are always ready to respond to a variety of disasters. Notably, the military is controlled by civilians, with the president as the command in chief. Congress also can set rules and declare a war, which the army will follow. The objective of this paper is to trace the history and state the function and purpose of the reserve.

Relationship with Different Branches

The reserves have always functioned as a force in waiting; they are at liberty to carry on with their civilian duties unless there is a need for military reinforcement. They are not under full-time employment by the department of defense, but they have the necessary training to enable their functioning in times of conflict or disaster. For example, during a war, they may be called forth for reinforcement. The units for training are often within the community to enhance proximity to their residential places (King and DiNitto 430). In all departments, consideration for joining is for people of ages 18 and 38 years old or 17 if there is parental consent. The reservists can remain at the same location with their families for more than five years as long as there is an opportunity for advancement.

Army Reserve

The army reserve is a powerful force that functions in the land, air, and sea with permanent stations in the United States and other locations, including Europe, Asia, Africa, and the Middle East. The US Army Reserve (USAR) was established on April 23, 1908, and comprises the individuals trained and ready for a time of war (Tencza et al. 1). There are at least 150 career opportunities, including cyber and information technology, aviation, healthcare, and special forces (“Service Branches” par.3). This branch has the greatest number of personnel who operate in multi-domain environments.

Navy Reserve

This reserve is responsible for the operations under the sea, in the air, and on the ground. It is organized, administered, equipped, and trained by the chief of naval operations. The recruited individuals must go through about two months of Boot Camp at the command center in Great Lakes, Illinois. There are more than 60 career fields in which a navy reserve can specialize. Some of the benefits include paid training and deployment, college credit, and flexibility in employment opportunities.

Airforce Reserve

This unit function in space, air, and cyberspace and is always ready to contribute to the mission of the Air Force worldwide. The total membership of the 4th Air Force, 22nd Air Force, and 10th Air Force is 69 200 (“Service Branches” par. 1). Some of the popular careers with this unit include electronics technicians, mechanics, medical staff, air traffic controllers, and other personnel to fulfill its mission in flying and flight support.

Marine Corps Reserve

The Marine Corps Reserve is considered the first unit to consult for resolving most conflicts on the ground. They have deployment all over the world to ensure quick response. The individuals can render their services for a period of four to six years. Only persistent people who endure the rigor of the training period are allowed to wear the uniform. The operations during deployment include guarding the embassies, protecting naval bases and ships while upholding the interest of the country.

Coast Corps Reserve

The Coast Corps Reserve branch is responsible for various maritime duties, including ensuring that there is safe and lawful commerce. They also participate in rescue missions in life-threatening events. There is a wide range of specializations, such as mechanical engineering and medicine. The training is mostly similar to the marine reserve but with an intense mental challenge. The individuals are deployed for the protection of ports, coastal security, waterways, and incident response.

History of Military Reserve

The reserve has its roots in the National Citizen-Soldier Force. The branch was officialized in 1776 and remained a regional power for the country with several changes in duty and policies (A History par.1). Total Force Policy, which is now operational, intends to make the reserve functional and not just a dormant force. The branch has evolved and is now recognized as a significant part of the security establishment, including fighting against terrorism.

Before the Vietnam War

Following the heavy casualty during the Spanish-American war, the 1908 Army Medical Reserve Act was established in April, which is currently the Statutory birthday (Gentile 15). In 1940, the Selective Service Act was established to reinforce the traditional military policy.

During the First World War, 90000 reserves were mobilized, including 30,000 medical officers (A History par. 2). The reserve was, at the time, not a fully functional force.

After the Vietnam War

The active army handled most of the battles during the Vietnam War. At the end of the Vietnam War, between 1965 and 1972, general Creighton Abrams argued for more combat, and a support structure was needed for the reserve component (Tencza et al. 4). There were more than 6000 strategic reserves at the time (A History par. 8). The Reserve Officer Training Corps was established in 1972(Erika et al. 441). The reserve was used to replace the soldiers lost; hence, they were trained, manned, and equipped.


The federal government, through the department of defense, has remained committed to ensuring the reserve individuals are competent and ready for emergency duties. The five branches, including the army, navy, coast guard, air force, and marine reserves, are prepared for different functions. Besides, there is a wide range of careers that are often offered in each unity for people who have specialized in various disciplines. Several constitutional amendments have been made in the unit to meet the changing demands and ensure the security of the nation amidst new threats.


“A History of the Army Reserve.”, 2013. Web.

Gentile, Gian, et al. “The Evolution of U.S. Military Policy from the Constitution to the Present.” 2017.

King, Erika L., and Diana M. DiNitto. “Historical policies affecting women’s military and family roles.” International Journal of Sociology and Social Policy, vol. 39, no. 5/6, 2019, pp. 427-446.

“Service Branches: Air Force Reserve — Today’s Military.” Today’s Military. Web.

Tencza, Elizabeth, et al. “The Evolution of U.S. Military Policy from the Constitution to the Present, Volume III: Another World War and Cold War.” 2020.

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