Military reserve force

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A military reserve force is a military organization composed of citizens of a country who combine a military role or career with a civilian career. They are not normally kept under arms and their main role is to be available to fight when a nation mobilizes for total war or to defend against invasion. Reserve forces are generally not considered part of a permanent standing body of armed forces. The existence of reserve forces allows a nation to reduce its peacetime military expenditures while maintaining a force prepared for war. It is analogous to the historical model of military recruitment before the era of standing armies.

Under arms describes a state of military readiness. Typically, troops are considered "under arms" when they are in uniform, on duty, and carrying a weapon, as opposed to being in uniform, on duty, but not carrying a weapon.

Total war conflict in which belligerents engage with all available resources

Total war is warfare that includes any and all civilian-associated resources and infrastructure as legitimate military targets, mobilizes all of the resources of society to fight the war, and gives priority to warfare over non-combatant needs. The Oxford Living Dictionaries defines "total war" as "A war that is unrestricted in terms of the weapons used, the territory or combatants involved, or the objectives pursued, especially one in which the laws of war are disregarded."

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In some countries, such as Canada, United States, Spain and the United Kingdom, members of the reserve forces are civilians who maintain military skills by training, typically one weekend a month. They may do so as individuals or as members of standing reserve regiments, for example the Army Reserve of the United Kingdom. In some cases a militia, home guard, or state guard could constitute part of a military reserve forces, such as the United States National Guard, the Norwegian Home Guard, the Swedish Home Guard, or the Danish Home Guard. In Taiwan, South Korea, Singapore, Colombia, and Israel, service in the reserves is compulsory for a number of years after one has completed national service.

Army Reserve (United Kingdom) element of the British Army

The Army Reserve is the active-duty volunteer reserve force and integrated element of the British Army. It should not be confused with the Regular Reserve whose members have formerly served full-time. The Army Reserve was previously known as the Territorial Force from 1908 to 1921, the Territorial Army (TA) from 1921 to 1967, the Territorial and Army Volunteer Reserve (TAVR) from 1967 to 1979, and again the Territorial Army (TA) from 1979 to 2014.

Militia generally refers to an army or other fighting force that is composed of non-professional fighters

A militia is generally an army or some other fighting organization of non-professional soldiers, citizens of a nation, or subjects of a state, who can be called upon for military service during a time of need, as opposed to a professional force of regular, full-time military personnel, or historically, members of a warrior nobility class. Generally unable to hold ground against regular forces, it is common for militias to be used for aiding regular troops by skirmishing, holding fortifications, or irregular warfare, instead of being used in offensive campaigns by themselves. Militia are often limited by local civilian laws to serve only in their home region, and to serve only for a limited time; this further reduces their use in long military campaigns.

Home guard Wikipedia disambiguation page

Home guard is a title given to various military organizations at various times, with the implication of an emergency or reserve force raised for local defense.

A military reserve force is different from a reserve formation, sometimes called a military reserve, a group of military personnel or units not committed to a battle by their commander so that they are available to address unforeseen situations, bolster defences, or exploit opportunities.

History

Reservists responding to the call, at the beginning of the Franco-Prussian War (1870). Reservistes 1870 Pierre-Georges Jeanniot.JPG
Reservists responding to the call, at the beginning of the Franco-Prussian War (1870).

During the eighteenth century some nations' military systems included practices and institutions that functioned effectively as a reserve force, even if they were not specifically designated as such. For example, the half-pay system in the British Army during the eighteenth century provided the British state with a force of trained, experienced officers not on active duty during peacetime but available for call-up during wartime. The Militia Act of 1757 effectively gave Britain at least somewhat of an institutional structure for a reserve force. Although contemporaries debated the effectiveness of the British militia, its embodiment (i.e., mobilization) during several conflicts did increase Britain's strategic options by freeing up regular forces for overseas theaters.

The Militia of Great Britain were the principal military reserve forces of the Kingdom of Great Britain during the 18th century.

Historically reservists first played a significant role in Europe after the Prussian defeat in the Battle of Jena-Auerstedt. On 9 July 1807 in the Treaties of Tilsit, Napoleon I forced Prussia to drastically reduce its military strength, in addition to ceding large amounts of territory. The Prussian army could no longer be stronger than 42,000 men.

Prussia state in Central Europe between 1525–1947

Prussia was a historically prominent German state that originated in 1525 with a duchy centred on the region of Prussia on the southeast coast of the Baltic Sea. It was de facto dissolved by an emergency decree transferring powers of the Prussian government to German Chancellor Franz von Papen in 1932 and de jure by an Allied decree in 1947. For centuries, the House of Hohenzollern ruled Prussia, successfully expanding its size by way of an unusually well-organised and effective army. Prussia, with its capital in Königsberg and from 1701 in Berlin, decisively shaped the history of Germany.

Treaties of Tilsit peace treaties between Napoleonic France and (a) Russia and (b) Prussia

The Treaties of Tilsit were two agreements signed by Napoleon I of France in the town of Tilsit in July 1807 in the aftermath of his victory at Friedland. The first was signed on 7 July, between Emperor Alexander I of Russia and Napoleon I of France, when they met on a raft in the middle of the Neman River. The second was signed with Prussia on 9 July. The treaties were made at the expense of the Prussian king, who had already agreed to a truce on 25 June after the Grande Armée had pursued him to the easternmost frontier of his realm. In Tilsit, he ceded about half of his pre-war territories.

The Krumpersystem , introduced to the Prussian Army by the military reformer Gerhard von Scharnhorst, arranged for giving recruits a short period of training, which in the event of war could be considerably expanded. With this the reduction of the army's strength did not have the desired effect, and in the following wars Prussia was able to draw up a large number of trained soldiers. The system was retained by the Imperial German Army into the First World War. By the time of the Second Reich reservists were already being given so-called "war arrangements" following the completion of their military service, which contained exact instructions relating to the conduct of reservists in time of war.

Prussian Army 1701-1871 land warfare branch of Prussias military, primary component and predecessor of the German Army to 1919

The Royal Prussian Army served as the army of the Kingdom of Prussia. It became vital to the development of Brandenburg-Prussia as a European power.

Gerhard von Scharnhorst German general

Gerhard Johann David von Scharnhorst was a Hanoverian-born general in Prussian service from 1801. As the first Chief of the Prussian General Staff, he was noted for his military theories, his reforms of the Prussian army, and his leadership during the Napoleonic Wars. Scharnhorst limited the use of corporal punishments, established promotion for merit, abolished the enrollment of foreigners, began the organization of a reserve army, and organized and simplified the military administration.

German Army (German Empire) 1871-1919 land warfare branch of the German military

The Imperial German Army was the unified ground and air force of the German Empire. The term Deutsches Heer is also used for the modern German Army, the land component of the Bundeswehr. The German Army was formed after the unification of Germany under Prussian leadership in 1871 and dissolved in 1919, after the defeat of the German Empire in World War I.

Sources of reserves

Finnish conscripts giving their military oath. Suomalainen sotilasvala.jpg
Finnish conscripts giving their military oath.

In some countries, for example the United States, reservists are often former military members who reached the end of their enlistment or resigned their commission. Indeed, service in the reserves for a number of years after leaving active service is required in the enlistment contracts and commissioning orders of many nations.

Reservists can also be civilians who undertake basic and specialized training in parallel with regular forces while retaining their civilian roles. They can be deployed independently or their personnel may make up shortages in regular units. United Kingdom's Army Reserve is one example of such a reserve.

With universal conscription, most of the male population may be reservists. In Finland, all men belong to the reserve until 60 years of age, and 80% of each age cohort are drafted and receive at least six months of military training. Ten percent of conscripts are trained as reserve officers. Reservists and reserve officers are occasionally called up for refresher exercises, but receive no monthly salary or position. South Korean males who finish their national service in the armed forces or in the national police are automatically placed on the reserve roster, and are obligated to attend a few days of annual military training for seven years.

Use of reserves

Reserves are used and employed in many ways. In wartime they may be used to provide replacements for combat losses to in-action units and formations, thus allowing these to remain battle-worthy longer. They can also be used to form new units and formations to augment the regular army. In addition, reservists can undertake tasks such as garrison duty, manning air defense, internal security and guarding of important points such as supply depots, prisoner of war camps, communications nodes, air and sea bases and other vital areas, thus freeing up regular troops for the front. A combination of these can be used.

In peacetime, reservists can be used in internal security duties and disaster relief, sparing reliance on the regular military forces, and in many countries where military roles outside of warfare are restricted, reservists are specifically exempted from these restrictions.

Reserve officers

The term "reserve officer" has two different meanings. In the US, it refers mostly to retired officers of the standing army that are still eligible for military duty. In countries with universal conscription, it refers to conscripts that receive extra training to qualify for officer duty in the event of war, but in peacetime concentrate on their civilian career and receive no pay or position from the military. For example, 10% of Finnish conscripts attain a reserve officer rank after completion of one year of service.

Advantages

A Sergeant from the Irish Army Reserve leading a tactical exercise Chief of Staff visiting RDF Camp in Glen of Imall (4901442403).jpg
A Sergeant from the Irish Army Reserve leading a tactical exercise

One of the primary advantages in having military reserves is that they increase the available manpower by many fold in a short period of time, unlike the months it would take to train new recruits or conscripts, since reservists are already trained. Reservists are often experienced combat veterans which can increase not only the quantity, but the overall quality of the forces. Having a large reservist pool can allow a government to avoid the costs, both political and financial, of requiring new recruits or conscripts. The reservists are usually more economically effective than regular troops, as they are only called up when they are most needed. On the other hand, preparations made to institute a call up (which are obvious to adversaries) can be used as a display of determination. Reservists also tend to have training in professions outside the military. The skills attained in many professions are also many times useful in the military side. Furthermore, in many countries reserves have also very capable people who would not consider career in the military. They take voluntary training as their hobby, and are therefore very cheap to train. People considering reservist activity as their hobby tend to be very motivated unlike many professionals. In peacekeeping, the skills of reservists have been shown to be valuable, because they can be employed for reconstruction of infrastructure, and so tend to have better relations with the civilian population than pure career soldiers.

Disadvantages

Reservists are usually provided with second line equipment, which is no longer used by the regulars, or is an older version of that in current service. Reservists will also have little experience with the newer weapon systems. Reservists in the sense of retired services personnel are sometimes considered to be less motivated than regular troops. Meanwhile, reservists in the sense of civilians who combine a military career with a civilian one, as in the United Kingdom's Territorial Army (TA), (now called the Army Reserve), experience demands on time not experienced by regular troops, and which affects their availability and duration of service. Conducting of exercises involving reservists is expensive, requiring compensation for lost wages, and it is difficult to call up then demobilize reservists again and again, which means that a nation that has called up reservists may be reluctant to stand them down again until the conflict is resolved. This is particularly true in the case of reservists in the sense of retired personnel, less true in the case of a standing force (e.g., the TA). In the prelude to World War I, the reluctance of the various antagonists to demobilize reserves once called up, due to the difficulty of remobilization has been held up as one of the causes why the diplomatic phase escalated so quickly to war.

Military reserve forces

Flag of Australia (converted).svg  Australia

Flag of Brazil.svg  Brazil

Flag of Canada (Pantone).svg  Canada

Flag of the People's Republic of China.svg  People's Republic of China

Flag of Colombia.svg  Colombia

  • Army Reserve Professional Corps
  • Navy Reserve Professional Corps
  • Air Force Reserve Professional Corps

Flag of the Czech Republic.svg  Czech Republic

Flag of Denmark.svg  Denmark

  • Royal Danish Airforce Reserve
  • Army Reserve
  • Navy Reserve
  • Defence Health Reserve
  • National Homeguard

Flag of Estonia.svg  Estonia

Flag of Finland.svg  Finland

Flag of France.svg  France

Flag of Greece.svg  Greece

  • Voluntary Reservist [1]

Flag of India.svg  India

Flag of Ireland.svg  Ireland

Flag of Israel.svg  Israel

Flag of Italy.svg  Italy

Flag of Latvia.svg  Latvia

Flag of Lithuania.svg  Lithuania

Flag of Malaysia.svg  Malaysia

Flag of the Netherlands.svg  The Netherlands

Flag of New Zealand.svg  New Zealand

Flag of Norway.svg  Norway

Flag of Pakistan.svg  Pakistan

Flag of the Philippines.svg  Philippines

Flag of South Africa.svg  South Africa

Flag of South Korea.svg  South Korea

Flag of the Soviet Union.svg  Former Soviet Union

Soviet Union made the largest use of reserves in both senses during the World War II, having separate and distinct military reserve force formations that included not only conscription reserves of lower readiness category cadre units, but also including the use of military reserves—reserve Armies and even a Front that constituted the reserve of the High Command.

Flag of Spain.svg  Spain

  • Voluntary Reservist [2]

Flag of Sri Lanka.svg  Sri Lanka

Flag of Sweden.svg  Sweden

Flag of Switzerland.svg   Switzerland

Flag of the Republic of China.svg  Republic of China (Taiwan)

Flag of Thailand.svg  Thailand

Flag of the United Kingdom.svg  United Kingdom

The Volunteer Reserves:

The Regular Reserves:

The Sponsored Reserves:

Flag of the United States.svg  United States

Flag of Yugoslavia (1946-1992).svg  SFR Yugoslavia (historical)

See also

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References

  1. "Υποψήφιοι Έφεδροι Αξιωματικοί" (PDF). Greek Army. Retrieved 15 November 2016.
  2. Reservistas de las Fuerzas Armadas Archived 2 February 2008 at the Wayback Machine The 39/2007 Defence law specially reinforces the role of the voluntary reservist, who through authority of the Minister of Defence can be approved for serving in missions abroad. The voluntary reservist is a resource that the Spanish society makes available to the national defence, and their active participation in international peace-keeping missions contributes to improve the levels of social conscience towards the defence forces. The material contribution of voluntary reservists to the operations in which Spain takes part is based on a model characteristic of similar to those that prevail in other European countries; that of taking advantage from the professional qualifications of the volunteers, as well as of their capacity to communicate, and to integrate themselves in the military units while collaborating actively in different operations. In despite of this, the bulk of Spanish military reserves consist of retired personnel, either approaching retirement age or having left the active army.

Further reading