What Is The Army Reserve? A Complete Guide

What is the Army Reserve?
The mission of the U.S. Army Reserve is to provide combat-ready units and soldiers to the Army and the joint force. The Army Reserve has a force of nearly 200,000 soldiers and civilian employees working at more than 2,000 units spread across 20 time zones on five continents worldwide. The Army Reserve is in every state and in five U.S. territories and 30 countries.

The Army Reserve is the dedicated federal reserve force of the U.S. Army. The Army Reserve accounts for 20 percent of the Army’s organized units, provides nearly half of the Army’s total maneuver support and makes up a quarter of the Army’s mobilization base expansion capability.

Army Reservist by railroad car with army truck on it

According to the Army Reserve: “A federal operational Army Reserve force saves the Army money; reduces the demand for Active Army capabilities; mitigates Army capability shortfalls, and preserves the readiness of the Total Army. …and provides a sufficient base of trained, equipped and ready Soldiers, leaders and units from which the Active Component may draw upon when needed. Most importantly, a ready and operational Army Reserve provides the critical enabling capabilities that combat forces rely upon to win America’s wars.”

The Army Reserve provides critical early entry and set the theater capabilities. These include Petroleum Pipeline and Terminal Operations, Biological Identification Detachments, Broadcast Operation Detachments, Civil Affairs, Theater Engineer Commands, Medical Logistics, and others crucial to opening and sustaining major operations.

What is the Army Reserve History?
On April 23, 1908, Congress created the Medical Reserve Corps, a group of 160 doctors formed to provide the nation with a reservoir of trained medical professionals for employment in times of national emergency. At the time, no reserve force existed under direct command and control of the federal government.

Since the activation of the Medical Reserve more than 100 years ago, the U.S. government has mobilized more than one million Army Reserve soldiers. Since 9/11, more than 300,000 Army Reserve soldiers have been mobilized and routinely deployed in 30 countries around the world, to include every major combat zone.

soldier loading m-60 machine gun 

What is the Army Reserve Compared to the National Guard?
National Guard forces fall under control of the state governor unless they are mobilized by the federal government. Army Reserve forces are under the command and control of the federal government at all times.

The Army Reserve, like the Army National Guard, has members that serve part-time. Both components draw talent from local communities and most units are located within commuting distance of the soldiers.

That said, during times of domestic crises, the Army Reserve, like the Army National Guard, helps communities. Title 10 U.S. Code Section 12304a, amended by the 2012 National Defense Authorization Act provides authority for the active and reserve components to assist citizens and communities in the United States during domestic emergencies to save lives, prevent human suffering and mitigate great property damage. The reserve provides aviation lift, search and rescue or extraction, quartermaster (food, shelter, potable water, heated tents, etc.), civil affairs and public information as well as a significant portion of full-spectrum engineer capability.

What is the Army Reserve AGR?
Active Guard Reserve (AGR) soldiers serve full-time and enjoy the same benefits as active-duty soldiers. They receive full pay and typical military benefits like their active-duty counterparts. They are also eligible for retirement after 20 years of active service just like their active-duty peers.

What is the Army Reserve IRR?
Members of the Individual Ready Reserve (IRR) are trained soldiers who may be called upon, if needed, to replace soldiers in active duty and Army Reserve units. Many of the soldiers in the IRR have recently left active duty and still have a military service obligation.

IRR Soldiers must attend muster duty when ordered to, to complete a readiness screening yearly. Soldiers in the IRR may also be involuntarily mobilized in time of national crisis.

US army solider firing m-4 prone 

What is the Army Reserve Troop Program Unit?

Troop Program Units (TPUs) are the heart and soul of the Army Reserve and most Army Reservist are TPU soldiers. They are assigned to reserve units that train together and mobilize in support of the U.S. Army.

Unlike active duty, Army Reserve Soldiers serve part time, allowing them to earn an extra paycheck, go to school, or work a civilian job while still maintaining many of the benefits of military service. These men and women typically train on selected weekends and perform annual training which typically is two weeks long. Duty is normally one weekend a month on duty and two weeks a year in training. Soldiers in the Army Reserve may be called to active duty to provide their expertise.

Soldiers who complete 20 years of service or more are eligible to receive military retirement pay at age 60 or earlier which varies in amounts and is based upon years of service, rank and points earned during service. TPU soldiers are eligible for other benefits as well.

soldier stirring pot

What is the Army Reserve Ambassador Program?
The Army Reserve Ambassador (ARA) Program is one of the Army Reserve’s key outreach programs. ARAs are influential volunteers with significant ties to their communities who operate at state and local levels and voluntarily represent the chief of Army Reserve without salary, wages or other benefits. They develop awareness and advocacy for the Army Reserve and are vitally important bridges to communities across the nation.

What is the Army Reserve Military Technician Program?
Designed as a career program, military technicians, known as “miltechs,” support Army Reserve units. The Program has a dual status force with members who work reserve-related issues during their day jobs as civil servants, while also serving as soldiers in Army Reserve units. Miltechs provide continuity in units and perform necessary tasks and missions.

What is the Army Reserve IMA program?
Individual Mobilization Augmentee (IMA) soldiers facilitate the rapid expansion of the active-duty Army wartime structure of the Department of Defense and/or other departments or agencies of the U.S. government to meet military manpower requirements in the event of military contingency, pre-mobilization, mobilization, sustainment, and/or demobilization operations.

Typically, the reservist works with his or her active-duty counterparts and the reservist is assigned to an active-duty organization. In times of need, because they are trained and have been working part-time to support the organization, they are mobilized and fill their same part-time roles except on active duty.

line of us army troops marching

What is the Army Reserve Doing Today?
The Army Reserve has responded to recent domestic issues such as the COVID-19 outbreak, mobilizing thousands of Army Reserve soldiers to support Urban Augmentation Medical Task Forces. In addition, the Army Reserve continues to support operations in support of the global war on terror.

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