Reserve Component Personnel Issues: Questions and Answers
Prepared for Members and Committees of Congress
The term “Reserve Component” is used to refer collectively to the seven individual reserve
components of the armed forces: the Army National Guard of the United States, the Army
Reserve, the Navy Reserve, the Marine Corps Reserve, the Air National Guard of the United
States, the Air Force Reserve, and the Coast Guard Reserve. The purpose of these seven reserve
components, as codified in law at 10 U.S.C. 10102, is to “provide trained units and qualified
persons available for active duty in the armed forces, in time of war or national emergency, and at
such other times as the national security may require, to fill the needs of the armed forces
whenever more units and persons are needed than are in the regular components.”
During the Cold War era, the reserve components were a manpower pool that was rarely tapped.
For example, from 1945 to 1989, reservists were involuntarily activated by the federal
government only four times, an average of less than once per decade. Since the end of the Cold
War, however, the nation has relied more heavily on the reserve components. Since 1990,
reservists have been involuntarily activated by the federal government six times, an average of
once every three years, including two large-scale mobilizations: for the Persian Gulf War (1990-
91) and in the aftermath of the September 11 terrorist attacks (2001-present) . This increasing use
of the reserves has led to greater congressional interest in the various issues, such as funding,
equipment, and personnel policy, that bear on the vitality of the reserve components. This report
is designed to provide an overview of key reserve component personnel issues.
This report provides insight to reserve component personnel issues through a series of questions
and answers: how many people are in different categories of the reserve component (question 3);
how reserve component personnel are organized (questions 2 and 4); how reserve component
personnel have been and may be utilized (questions 1, 5, 6, 7, 9, and 11); how reserve component
personnel are compensated (questions 8 and 10); the type of legal protections that exist for
reserve component personnel (question 12); recent changes in reserve component pay and
benefits made by Congress (question 13); and reserve component personnel issues that might be th
of particular interest in the second session of the 110 Congress (question 14).
This report will be updated as needed.
1. What Is the Reserve Component? What Is Its Role?............................................................1
2. What Are the Different Categories of Reservists?................................................................1
The Ready Reserve.............................................................................................................1
The Standby Reserve..........................................................................................................3
The Retired Reserve............................................................................................................3
3. How Many People Are in the Reserve Components?...........................................................3
time Support for the Reserve Components?...........................................................................4
Active Guard and Reserve..................................................................................................4
Non-Dual Status Technicians..............................................................................................5
Ci vilians ...................................................................................................................... ........ 6
5. What Is the Difference Between the “Reserves” and the “National Guard”?.......................6
6. How Has the Role of the Reserve Components Changed in Recent Years?.........................7
7. How Does the Posse Comitatus Act Affect Use of the Reserve Components to
Handle Domestic Problems?..................................................................................................9
8. What Type of Pay and Benefits Do Reservists Receive for Reserve Duty?........................10
Special and Incentive Pays.................................................................................................11
Commissary and Exchange Privileges..............................................................................12
Retireme nt ......................................................................................................................... 12
9. How Are Reservists Called to Active Duty by the Federal Government? How Often
Does this Happen? After Activation, How Long Can They Be Required to Serve on
Presidential Reserve Call-up (PRC)..................................................................................14
Recall of Retired Reservists..............................................................................................15
10. What Type of Pay, Benefits, and Legal Protections Are Provided to Reservists
Mobilized for Operations Noble Eagle, Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom?................16
11. Are There Other Ways in Which Members of the National Guard Can Be
Activated? ..................................................................................................................... ....... 16
12. What Type of Legal Protections Do Reservists Have When They Are Serving on
Active Duty? What Re-employment Rights Do Reservists Have after Being
Released from Active Duty?................................................................................................18
13. Has Congress Made Any Recent Changes in Pay and Benefits for Reserve
Premium-based Access to Tricare for Non-Activated Reservists and their Families.......20
New Educational Benefit for Activated Reservists...........................................................20
Financial Losses for Some Mobilized Reservists.............................................................22
Reducing the Age at Which Certain Reservists Can Draw Retired Pay...........................22
Table 1. Personnel Strength of the Ready Reserve as of September 30, 2007................................4
Author Contact Information..........................................................................................................23
The term “Reserve Component” (RC) is used to refer collectively to the seven individual reserve
components of the armed forces: the Army National Guard of the United States, the Army 1
Reserve, the Navy Reserve, the Marine Corps Reserve, the Air National Guard of the United
States, the Air Force Reserve, and the Coast Guard Reserve. The purpose of these seven reserve
components, as codified in law, is to “...provide trained units and qualified persons available for
active duty in the armed forces, in time of war or national emergency, and at such other times as
the national security may require, to fill the needs of the armed forces whenever more units and 2
persons are needed than are in the regular components.” The Army National Guard and the Air
National Guard also have a state role: In addition to the role of providing trained units and
personnel to the armed forces of the United States, they also assist the states in responding to
various emergencies, such as disasters and civil disorders. (For more information on the
difference between the National Guard and other reserve components, see questions 5 and 11).
All reservists, whether they are in the Reserves or the National Guard,3 are assigned to one of
three major reserve categories: the Ready Reserve, the Standby Reserve, or the Retired Reserve.
Reservists who are assigned to the Ready Reserve are further assigned to one of its three sub-
components: the Selected Reserve, the Individual Ready Reserve (IRR), or the Inactive National
Guard (ING). The differences between each of these categories is explained below.
The Ready Reserve is the primary manpower pool of the reserve components. Members of the 4
Ready Reserve will usually be called to active duty before members of the Standby Reserve or
the Retired Reserve. The Ready Reserve is made up of the Selected Reserve, the Individual
Ready Reserve, and the Inactive National Guard, each of which is described below.
1 The National Defense Authorization Act for FY2006 (P.L. 109-163, section 515) changed the name of the Naval
Reserve to the Navy Reserve.
2 10 U.S.C. 10102. The language was recently changed by P.L. 108-375, the Ronald W. Reagan National Defense
Authorization Act for FY2005. Prior to this change, the language was as follows: “The purpose of each reserve
component is to provide trained units and qualified persons available for active duty in the armed forces, in time of war
or national emergency, and at such other times as the national security may require, to fill the needs of the armed forces
whenever, during and after the period needed to procure and train additional units and qualified persons to achieve the
planned mobilization, more units and persons are needed than are in the regular components.” The change in statutory
language, as explained in a House Armed Services Committee report, would “clarify that the purpose of the reserve
components is to provide trained units and qualified personnel not just as the result of involuntary mobilizations but
whenever more units and persons are needed than are in the active component. The revision recommended by this
section more accurately reflects recent and future employments of the reserve components.” H.Rept. 108-491, p. 316.
3 For a discussion of the distinction between the Reserves and the National Guard, see questions 5 and 11.
4 Units and members of the Standby Reserve may be involuntarily ordered to active duty under the provisions of 10
USC 12301(a) [see Question 9, Full Mobilization, for a description of this authority]; however, 10 USC 12306(b)
specifies that “No unit in the Standby Reserve organized to serve as a unit or any member thereof may be ordered to
active duty under section 12301(a) of this title, unless the Secretary concerned, with the approval of the Secretary of
Defense in the case of a Secretary of a military department, determines that there are not enough of the required kinds
of units in the Ready Reserve that are readily available.” A similar provision applies to members of the Standby
Reserve not assigned to a unit.
The Selected Reserve contains those units and individuals within the Ready Reserve designated 5
as so essential to initial wartime missions that they have priority over all other Reserves.
Members of the Selected Reserve are generally required to perform one weekend of training each
month (“inactive duty for training” or IDT, also known colloquially as “weekend drill”) and two
weeks of training each year (“annual training” or AT, sometimes known colloquially as “summer
camp”) for which they receive pay and benefits. Some members of the Selected Reserve perform
considerably more military duty than this, while others may only be required to perform the two 6
weeks of annual training each year or other combinations of time. Members of the Selected
Reserve can be involuntarily ordered to active duty under a “Presidential Reserve Call Up,” a
“Partial Mobilization,” or a “Full Mobilization.” (See question 9 for more information on
The Individual Ready Reserve (IRR) is a manpower pool of individuals who have already 7
received military training, either in the Active Component or in the Selected Reserve. Members
of the IRR may be required to perform regular training, although DOD has not implemented such
a requirement since the 1950s. Members of the IRR can volunteer for training or active duty
assignments, and they can also be involuntarily ordered to active duty under a Partial
Mobilization or a Full Mobilization; there is also a category of the IRR that can be activated
during a Presidential Reserve Call-up, but at present there is no one assigned to this category.
(See question 9 for more information on mobilization authorities). There is no IRR in the Army
National Guard or the Air National Guard, although there is an analogous category known as the
Inactive National Guard (see immediately below).
The Inactive National Guard (ING) is made up of those members of the Army National Guard
who are in an inactive status (currently there is no ING for the Air National Guard). They are not
required to participate in training as are members of the Selected Reserve; however they are 8
assigned to a specific National Guard unit and are required to meet with the unit once a year.
Members of the ING can be involuntarily ordered to active duty if the unit they are attached to is
ordered to active duty. As all National Guard units are considered to be part of the Selected
Reserve, this means that members of the ING can be involuntarily ordered to active duty under a
Presidential Reserve Call Up, a Partial Mobilization, or a Full Mobilization. (See question 9 for
5 Joint Publication 1-02, Department of Defense Dictionary of Military and Associated Terms, as amended through
October 17, 2007.
6 For example, members of the Selected Reserve—especially in the Air Force Reserve and the Air National Guard—
often volunteer to perform extra duty, while some members of the Individual Mobilization Augmentee (IMA) program
may only perform two-weeks of training per year. Other members of the IMA program may be required to perform IDT
training as well, but typically perform it during weekdays rather than on weekends.
7 Joint Publication 1-02, Department of Defense Dictionary of Military and Associated Terms, as amended through
October 17, 2007.
8 Joint Publication 1-02, Department of Defense Dictionary of Military and Associated Terms, as amended through
October 17, 2007.
more information on mobilization authorities). The ING is, for practical purposes, the National
Guard equivalent of the IRR.
The Standby Reserve contains those individuals who have a temporary disability or hardship and 9
those who hold key defense related positions in their civilian jobs. While in the Standby Reserve,
reservists are not required to participate in military training and are subject to involuntary
activation only in the case of a Full Mobilization. (See question 9 for more information on
The Retired Reserve includes Reserve officers and enlisted personnel who are receiving retired
pay as a result of their reserve and/or active service. It also includes Reserve officers and enlisted
personnel who transfer into the Retired Reserve after qualifying for reserve retirement, but before
becoming eligible to receive retired pay (which normally occurs at age 60). Regular officers and
enlisted personnel who are receiving retired pay are not included in the Retired Reserve.
Members of the Retired Reserve may be involuntarily ordered to active duty in the event of a Full
Mobilization, and some members of the Retired Reserve may be ordered to active duty in the
event of a recall of retirees. (See question 9 for more information on mobilization authorities).
As of September 30, 2007, the total personnel strength of the Ready Reserve reported by DOD
was 1,088,587. This figure is broken down by service and category of reservist in Table 1. In
addition, there were another 21,218 members of the Standby Reserve and 656,114 members of
the Retired Reserve, although these categories of reservists are much less likely to be mobilized
than Ready Reservists. Additionally, a substantial percentage of the Retired Reserve would likely
be unable to mobilize due to age and fitness.
It is worth noting that the FY2007 personnel strength of the Selected Reserve for the Army
National Guard continued to grow, completing erasing the drop in strength that occurred in
FY2004 and 2005. From the end of FY2003 to the end of FY2005, the Army National Guard’s
Selected Reserve strength dropped from 351,089 to 333,177. By the end of FY2007, this had
increased to 352,707, almost 1% above the authorized end-strength of 350,000.
Additionally, for the second year, the Army Reserve has halted the decline in strength which
occurred in FY2004 and FY2005, although it has not been able to rebuild its strength to its
authorized level. From the end of FY2003 to the end of FY2005, the Army Reserve’s Selected
Reserve strength dropped from 211,890 to 189,005. By the end of FY2006, it had inched up to
189,975; at the end of FY2007 it stood at 189,882. This is still 5% less than its FY2007
authorized end-strength and 7.3% less than its FY2008 authorized end-strength of 205,000. Navy
9 Department of Defense Instruction (DODI) 1215.06, Uniform Reserve, Training, and Retirement Categories,
February 7, 2007, paragraph E5.1.2, p. 31.
Reserve personnel strength has declined for the past four years but this is consistent with plans to 10
reduce the size of the Navy’s Selected Reserve.
Table 1. Personnel Strength of the Ready Reserve as of September 30, 2007
Reserve/ Inactive Total
Selected Reserve National Guard Ready Reserve
Army National Guard 352,707 2,285 354,992
Army Reserve 189,882 76,548 266,430
Navy Reserve 69,933 58,488 128,421
Marine Corps Reserve 38,557 62,230 100,787
Air National Guard 106,254 0 106,254
Air Force Reserve 71,146 49,406 120,552
Coast Guard Reserve 7,777 3,374 11,151
Total 836,256 252,331 1,088,587
Source: Data provided by the Department of Defense.
Reserve units are primarily filled by “traditional” reservists: members of the Selected Reserve
who are usually required to work one weekend a month and two weeks a year. However, most
reserve units are also staffed by one or more full-time civilian and/or military employees. These
employees, known as full-time support (FTS) personnel, are “assigned to organize; administer;
instruct; recruit and train; maintain supplies, equipment and aircraft; and perform other functions
required on a daily basis in the execution of operational missions and readiness preparations as 11
authorized in title 5, title 10, and title 32....”
There are five types of FTS personnel: Active Guard & Reserve, Military Technician, Non-Dual
Status Technician, Active Component, and Civilian. The distinctions between each of these
categories are outlined below. The mix of FTS personnel in each of the reserve components is 12
supposed “to optimize consistency and stability for each RC to achieve its assigned missions.”
Active Guard and Reserve (AGR) personnel are members of a Reserve Component who are
placed on full-time National Guard duty orders or active duty orders for a period of 180
consecutive days or more for the purpose of “organizing, administering, recruiting, instructing, or
10 The congressionally authorized end-strength for the Navy Reserve for FY2008 is 67,800; Navy budget documents
indicate the Navy projects an FY2009 end-strength of 66,700.
11 Department of Defense Instruction (DODI) 1205.18, “Full Time Support (FTS) to the Reserve Components,” May 4,
12 DODI 1205.18, 2.
training the reserve components.”13 They may also perform duties related to supporting certain
operations and missions, and certain duties related to defense against weapons of mass 14
destruction. Although they are serving full-time, AGR personnel are still considered members of
the Selected Reserve. They are usually required to attend weekend drills and annual training with
the reserve unit to which they are assigned.
Depending on their branch of service, AGR personnel are referred to by different names. In the
Army National Guard, Army Reserve, Air National Guard, and Air Force Reserve, they are
simply referred to as AGRs, an acronym for Active Guard and Reserve. In the Navy Reserve they
are referred to as TARs, an acronym for Training and Administration of Reserves. In the Coast
Guard Reserve, they are referred to as RPAs, an acronym for Reserve Program Administrators. In
the Marine Corps Reserve, they are known as Marine Corps Active Reserves or ARs.
Military technicians (MTs) are federal civilian employees who provide support to reserve units,
either in the administration and training of reserve component units, or by maintaining and 15
repairing reserve component equipment and supplies. Unlike regular civilian employees,
however, MTs are generally required to maintain membership in the Selected Reserve as a
condition of their employment. These individuals are sometimes referred to as “dual-status
military technicians,” reflecting their status as both federal civilian employees and military
reservists. They are required to attend weekend drills and annual training with their reserve unit,
which is usually the same unit they work for as civilians during the weekday. Military technicians
can be involuntarily ordered to active duty in the same way as other members of the Selected
Reserve (see question 2). There are no MTs in the Navy Reserve, the Marine Corps Reserve, or
the Coast Guard Reserve.
Non-dual status technicians (NDSTs) are civilian employees of the military departments serving
in military technician positions. They are referred to as “non-dual-status technicians” because
they are not members of the Selected Reserve and, hence, do not have a dual military/civilian 16
status like MTs. NDSTs perform the same functions as MTs, but cannot be involuntarily ordered
to active duty as they do not have a military status. There are no NDSTs in the Navy Reserve, the
Marine Corps Reserve, or the Coast Guard Reserve, and very few in the Air Force Reserve.
Active Component (AC) personnel are active-duty members of the military who “are assigned or
attached to Reserve component organizations or units by their respective Service to provide
13 10 USC 101(d)(6)(A). See also DODI 1205.18, 8.
14 10 USC 12310. AGR personnel can also serve in “at headquarters responsible for reserve affairs, to participate in
preparing and administering the policies and regulations affecting those reserve components.” See 10 USC 10211 and
DODI 1205.18, 8.
15 10 USC 10216. See also DODI 1205.18, 8.
16 10 USC 10217. For more information on MTs and NDSTs, see CRS Report RL30487, Military Technicians: The
Issue of Mandatory Retirement for Non- Dual-Status Technicians, by Lawrence Kapp.
advice, liaison, management, administration, training, and support....”17 Although they are
formally members of the Active Component, not the Reserve Component, AC personnel may
deploy with the reserve unit they are assigned to if the unit is mobilized.
Civilians are federal civil service employees who “provide administration, training, maintenance, 18
and recruiting support to the Reserve components.” They are not required to hold membership
in the Selected Reserve as a condition of their employment, although some do so voluntarily.
Unless they are members of the reserve components, they cannot be involuntarily ordered to
Although the term “reserves” is often used as a generic term to refer to all members of the seven
individual reserve components, there is an important distinction between the five reserve
components which are purely federal entities (the Army Reserve, Navy Reserve, Marine Corps
Reserve, Air Force Reserve, and Coast Guard Reserve) and the two reserve components which
are both federal and state entities (the Army National Guard and the Air National Guard). In this
context, the purely federal reserve components are sometimes referred to collectively as the
Reserves, while the dual federal/state reserve components are referred to collectively as the
The Reserves are of comparatively recent origin, having all been established in the 20th century.
They were organized under Congress’ constitutional authority “to raise and support Armies” and 19
“to provide and maintain a Navy.” The National Guard has a much longer historical pedigree. It 20
is descended from the colonial era militia which existed prior to the adoption of the
Constitution. The Constitution does, however, contain provisions that recognize the existence of 21
the militia and that give the federal government a certain amount of control over it.
Unlike the Reserves, which are exclusively federal organizations, the National Guard is usually
both a state and a federal organization. The National Guard of the United States is made up of 54
17 DODI 1205.18, 8.
18 DODI 1205.18, 8.
19 U.S. Constitution, Article 1, Section 8, clauses 12 and 13.
20 The colonial militia concept, which was derived from a longstanding English tradition and which required every able
bodied white male to participate in the common defense of his town or locality, was the backbone of colonial military
power. Gradually, as the colonial population grew and military threats waned, a distinction arose between the
unorganized militia (those members of the militia who were potentially liable for military service but who did not
actively participate in military training) and the organized militia (those members of the militia who regularly trained
for war and who responded first to military threats). Today, the U.S. Code still recognizes the militia as consisting of
“all able-bodied males at least 17 years of age and...under 45 years of age who are, or who have made a declaration of
intention to become citizens of the United States and of female citizens of the United States who are members of the
National Guard.” (10 USC 311) This provision of the law further divides the militia into the organized militia and the
unorganized militia, and declares the National Guard and the Naval Militia to be the organized militia. At present the
Naval Militia exists only in New York, New Jersey, Ohio and Alaska.
21 See U.S. Constitution, Article I, Section 8, clauses 15 and 16, and Article II, Section 2, clause 1.
separate National Guard organizations: one for each state, and one for Puerto Rico, Guam, the
U.S. Virgin Islands, and the District of Columbia. While the District of Columbia National Guard
is an exclusively federal organization and operates under federal control at all times, the other 53
National Guards operate as state or territorial organizations most of the time. In this capacity,
each of these 53 organizations is identified by its state or territorial name (e.g. the California
National Guard or the Puerto Rico National Guard), and is controlled by its respective governor.
Due to their dual federal and state role, National Guardsmen can be called to duty in several
different ways (see questions 9 and 11) and the mode of activation has important implications for
the pay, benefits, and legal protections they receive (see questions 10 and 12).
In 2000, Charles Cragin, a former Assistant Secretary of Defense for Reserve Affairs, summed up
the changing role of the reserve components in the following words: “The role of our Reserve
forces is changing in the United States. We have seen their traditional role, which was to serve as
manpower replacements in the event of some cataclysmic crisis, utterly transformed. They are no
longer serving as the force of last resort, but as vital contributors on a day-to-day basis around the 22
world.” His comments, well supported by historical data at the time he made them, became even th
more apt given the large reserve mobilization that has occurred since the September 11 terrorist
attack on the United States.
During the Cold War era, the reserve components were a manpower pool that was rarely tapped. 23
For example, from 1945 to 1989, reservists were involuntarily activated for federal service only
four times, an average of less than once per decade. These activations occurred only during
wartime and national emergencies: the Korean War (1950-1953; 857,877 reservists involuntarily
activated), the Berlin Crisis (1961-62; 148,034 reservists involuntarily activated), the Cuban
Missile Crisis (1962; 14,200 reservists involuntarily activated), and the Vietnam War/U.S.S.
Pueblo Crisis (1968-69; 37,643 reservists involuntarily activated).
Since the end of the Cold War, however, the nation has relied more heavily on the reserve
components. Since 1990, reservists have been involuntarily activated for federal service six times,
an average of once every three years. Some of these activations have been directly related to war
or armed conflict: for example, the Persian Gulf War (1990-91; 238,729 reservists involuntarily 24
activated), the low-intensity conflict with Iraq (1998-2003; 6,108 reservists involuntarily
22 Charles L. Cragin, Assistant Secretary of Defense for Reserve Affairs, remarks printed in The Officer, September
23 This category excludes those who served on active duty under voluntary orders or annual training order and excludes
members of the National Guard serving in a state status (see question 11). Additionally, with the exception of those
mobilized in response to the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, it excludes involuntary activations of reservists for
domestic reasons, such as responding to civic disorders.
24 In the aftermath of the 1991 Persian Gulf War, the United States maintained a substantial military presence in the
region in order to enforce the terms of the cease-fire agreements. The United States used this military force to compel
Iraqi compliance with the terms of the cease fire agreements on a number of occasions. One of the most significant
U.S. confrontations with Iraq began in late 1997, in response to Iraqi interference in the conduct of U.N. weapons
inspections. As tensions with Iraq mounted, the United States began to build up its forces in the Gulf region.
Subsequently, a nearly constant low-intensity air war took place in and over Iraq: Iraqi anti-aircraft weapons fired on
U.S. and allied aircraft; the allies responded by bombarding these and other military targets. On February 24, 1998,
President Clinton ordered a Presidential Reserve Call-up (which is the activation of reservists under Title 10, Section
activated), and current military operations—Operation Noble Eagle, Operation Enduring
Freedom, and Operation Iraqi Freedom—to enhance homeland security, destroy terrorist 25
networks, and change the regime in Iraq, respectively (2001-present; over 650,519 reservists 26
involuntarily activated as of December 26, 2007). Other activations have been in support of
missions that were primarily peacekeeping and nation-building, such as the intervention in Haiti
(1994-1996; 6,250 reservists involuntarily activated) and the Bosnian peacekeeping mission 27
(1995-2004; 31,553 reservists involuntarily activated). The ongoing Kosovo mission (1999-
present; 11,485 reservists involuntarily activated as of September 30, 2007) has been a 28
combination of armed conflict and peacekeeping.
It is important to point out that this tally of activations refers only to instances where reservists
were involuntarily ordered into active federal service. It does not encompass the many instances
where reservists have served on active duty under voluntary orders or annual training orders or,
for members of the National Guard, service under state authority (see question 11 for more
information on “state active duty” and duty under Title 32 of the U.S. Code).
Data from the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Reserve Affairs (OASD/RA) sheds
more light on the growing contribution of reservists to federal missions. According to OASD/RA,
reservists contributed about 1 million “man-days” per year to their respective services between
fiscal years 1986 and 1989. This contribution increased since then to the point where reservists
contributed about 13 million days of work per year between fiscal years 1996 and 2001. With the
large mobilization of reservists in support of Operations Noble Eagle, Enduring Freedom, and
Iraqi Freedom, reservists contributed about 41.3 million days of work in FY2002, 62.0 million 29
days in FY2003, 65.3 million days in FY2004, and 68.3 million days in FY2005. The
12304 of the United States Code; for more information on this authority, see Question 9). The first reservists called
under this authority entered active duty on March 1, 1998. This low-intensity conflict with Iraq changed to a high-
intensity conflict on March 20, 2003, with the commencement of Operation Iraqi Freedom. On May 1, 2003, all
operations associated with the low-intensity conflict—such as Operation Northern Watch and Operation Southern
Watch—became part of Operation Iraqi Freedom. Since then, reservists involuntarily activated for operations related to
Iraq have been ordered to active duty under the post-September 11, 2001, Partial Mobilization (for more information on
mobilization authorities, see Question 9).
25 Operation Noble Eagle is the name given to military operations related to homeland security and support to federal,
state, and local agencies in the wake of the September 11 attacks. Operation Enduring Freedom includes ongoing
operations in Afghanistan, operations against terrorists in other countries, and training assistance to foreign militaries
which are conducting operations against terrorists. Operation Iraqi Freedom includes both the invasion of Iraq and the
subsequent counterinsurgency and rebuilding operations.
26 Between September 11, 2001 and December 27, 2007, a total of 650,519 reservists (which includes the National
Guard) were involuntarily called to active duty under federal orders for ONE, OEF, and OIF. Of these, 86,720 were
serving on active duty as of December 26, 2007, while 563,799 had been demobilized prior to that date after
completing their tours. Note, however, that the total mobilization and demobilization figures count reservists more than
once if they have been mobilized more than once. Source: Colonel Paul Vining, Office of the Assistant Secretary of
Defense, Reserve Affairs, NEEFIF Daily Mob-Demob Report, December 27, 2007.
27 On December 1, 2004, the last U.S. peacekeeping troops left Bosnia, as NATO handed over the stabilization mission
to the European Union. However, a few hundred U.S. military personnel remain in Bosnia. Jim Garmone, American
Forces Press Service, “U.S. Peacekeepers Finish Bosnia Mission, Case Colors,” December 1, 2004. The remaining few
American military personnel in Bosnia may include some reservists mobilized under the authority of the Partial
Mobilization for ONE/OEF/OIF. Those figures were not available from DoD.
28 These numbers do not include reservists who have been mobilized under the authority of the Partial Mobilization for
ONE/OEF/OIF and sent to Kosovo. Those figures were not available from DoD.
29 Source: Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Reserve Affairs, cited in the 2006 Annual Report of the
Reserve Forces Policy Board, February 2007, p. 5.
continuing mobilization of reservists to participate in these operations, probably for many years to
come, lends further support to the idea that the Reserve Component has been transformed from a
“force of last resort” in the Cold War era into an integrated part of the military services in the
post-Cold War era; this process has also been referred to as the transformation of the reserve
component from a “strategic reserve” to an “operational reserve.”
For more information on the history of reserve activations, see CRS Report RL30637,
Involuntary Reserve Activations For U.S. Military Operations Since World War II, by Lawrence
The Posse Comitatus Act (18 USC 1385), along with other related laws and administrative
provisions, prohibits the use of the military to execute civilian laws unless expressly authorized
by the Constitution or an act of Congress. As a part of the military, the reserve components are
generally covered under these provisions and thus are restricted in the same way that active
component forces are. However, there are important exceptions to this general rule.
First, Congress has made a number of exceptions to the Posse Comitatus Act which permit
military involvement in law enforcement. For example, Congress has enacted a number of
statutes which authorize the President to use military forces to suppress insurrections and 30
domestic violence. If these statutes were to be invoked, the President could use the reserve
components in the same way as active component forces to put down a rebellion or to control
domestic violence. Another important exception relates to the Coast Guard, which Congress has
vested with broad law enforcement authority. Under these statutory provisions, the Coast Guard
Reserve can participate, like its active component counterpart, in the enforcement of maritime,
customs, and certain other federal laws.
Second, when acting in its capacity as the organized militia of a state, the National Guard is not
part of the federal military and thus is not covered by the Posse Comitatus Act. Only when it is
called into federal service does the National Guard become subject to the Act. As such, the
National Guard can be used by state authorities to enforce the law. For example, while acting in a
state capacity, the National Guard has been used for riot control and counter-drug activities. More
recently, it was used to provide increased security at airports throughout the country in the th
aftermath of the September 11 terrorist attacks and to assist with security and disaster relief
missions in the aftermath of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.
For more information on the Posse Comitatus Act see CRS Report RS20590, The Posse
Comitatus Act and Related Matters: A Sketch, by Jennifer K. Elsea.
30 See 10 USC 331-335.
This section focuses primarily on the pay and benefits provided to participating members of the
Selected Reserve when they are not serving on active duty. In general, when reservists are
ordered to federal active duty for more than 30 days they receive pay and benefits virtually 31
identical to those of active duty personnel, although there are some exceptions. When ordered to
active duty for a period of 30 days or less, they receive most, but not all, of the pay and benefits 32
that active duty personnel receive. Additionally, reservists who are not on active duty receive a
different set of pay and benefits when they are serving in a reserve component category other than 33
the Selected Reserve, and members of the National Guard receive a different set of pay and 34
benefits when they are serving full-time in a state status.
Members of the Selected Reserve are generally required to work one weekend a month (called
inactive duty for training or IDT; also known colloquially as “weekend drill”) and two weeks per
year (called annual training or AT; also known colloquially as “summer camp”). They are paid for
this work according to the same basic pay table used for their active duty counterparts. This table
is based on both rank and years of service. Thus, reservists and active duty personnel of the same
rank and the same longevity fall into the same category for basic pay. However, reservists and
active duty personnel do not always accrue credit for a day of pay in the same manner.
During AT, reservists receive one day of basic pay for each day of duty, just as active duty
personnel receive one day of basic pay for each day of duty. Thus, for a typical two week long
AT, a reservist receives 14 days of pay. However, during IDT reservists receive one day of pay for
each unit training assembly (UTA) they attend. A UTA is generally a four-hour period of
instruction, and there are usually four UTAs per drill weekend. Thus, for each two-day long drill
weekend reservists receive the equivalent of four days of basic pay. During a typical year then, a
reservist might work 38 days (14 days of annual training plus 24 days of IDT) but receive the
31 For example, one area in which benefits are not identical is re-enlistment bonuses. Reservists serving on active duty
who are eligible for a re-enlistment bonus may receive a maximum bonus of $15,000 (37 U.S.C. 308b), as opposed to a
maximum bonus of $90,000 for active duty re-enlistment bonuses (37 U.S.C. 308). However, the reserve bonus is
provided to the individual in exchange for continued reserve service, while the active duty bonus is provided in
exchange for continued active duty service. Another example, which is beneficial to reservists, concerns certain types
of compensation for health care officers (specifically, the special pay provided by 37 USC 302, 302a, 302b, 302c, 302e,
and 303) . While active component personnel must sign a written agreement to serve for at least one year in order to
receive certain types of special compensation, 37 USC 302f waives this requirement for reserve officers on active duty
under a call or order to active duty of more than 30 days but less than one year, and in certain other circumstances.
32 For example, they do not receive medical coverage for their families unless they have enrolled in the new premium-
based Tricare insurance program (see question 13). Additionally, those serving 30 days or less typically receive a
housing allowance known as BAH-II, which is generally lower than the normal Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH);
however, these individuals receive the normal BAH if they are serving in support of a contingency operation such as
Operation Enduring Freedom or Iraqi Freedom (see 37 USC 403(g)).
33 Members of the Selected Reserve receive the most generous package of pay and benefits, although Retired
Reservists—whose retirement pay and benefits are deferred compensation for at least twenty years of active and/or
reserve service—receive superior benefits in some respects. Members of the Individual Ready Reserve and the Standby
Reserve are generally not paid and are eligible for only a few benefits.
34 See questions 10-12.
equivalent of 62 days’ worth of basic pay (14 days of pay for annual training and 48 days of pay
Depending on the type of duty they are performing, reservists may also be eligible for special and
incentive pays, such as diving duty pay, hazardous duty pay, aviation career incentive pay, foreign
language proficiency pay and others. Although there are some exceptions, reservists are generally
eligible for special and incentive pays during AT under the same conditions as active component
personnel. Depending on the entitlement criteria, they may receive the full monthly amount of a
given pay regardless of the number of days served, or they may receive a pro-rated portion of the
full monthly amount corresponding to the number of days served. During IDT, reservists are th
generally eligible for special and incentive pays at a rate of 1/30 of the monthly rate for each
During AT, but not during IDT, reservists may be eligible for a housing allowance known as Basic
Allowance for Housing II (BAH-II), which is generally lower than the normal Basic Allowance
for Housing (BAH), and for a subsistence allowance known as Basic Allowance for Subsistence
(BAS). Reserve officers are also entitled to a $400 clothing allowance at the beginning of their
reserve service to assist them in purchasing necessary uniform items. Furthermore, if they are
called to active duty for more than 90 days, they are usually entitled to an additional $200
clothing allowance. Reserve enlisted personnel are typically issued all of their uniforms, shoes,
boots, and insignia and therefore do not receive any clothing allowance; however, they may be 35
eligible for a clothing allowance if required uniform items are not provided to them.
Until recently, non-activated reservists have had limited access to Tricare, the military health care
system. Specifically, they were entitled to treatment at a military medical facility for illnesses or
injuries incurred or aggravated during IDT or AT, or while traveling directly to or from their IDT
or AT duty station. Family members of reservists have generally not been entitled to military
medical care during either IDT or AT, but become eligible if the reservist was ordered to active thth
duty for more than 30 days. All of these provisions are still in effect today, but the 108 and 109
Congress passed several provisions which provide premium-based access to Tricare for non-
activated reservists and their families. These provisions are discussed in more detail later in this
report (see question 13).
Members of the Selected Reserve and Individual Ready Reserve are eligible to enroll in a dental
plan known as the Tricare Dental Program (TDP), provided they have at least 12 months of
service remaining. The annual premium for the program is about $140 for a member of the
35 See Department of Defense Financial Management Regulation, Volume 7A, Chapters 29 and 30,
Selected Reserve, and about $350 for most members of the Individual Ready Reserve. In return,
TDP provides up to $1,200 of coverage per year, per beneficiary, towards basic dental care
procedures including diagnostic, preventive and some restorative services, as well as some oral
surgery and emergency services. There is also a benefit for orthodontic services, which has a
lifetime cap of $1,500 per beneficiary. Members of the Selected Reserve and Individual Ready
Reserve may also enroll family members in the TDP, but doing so increases the annual premium
by about $870 per year.
Members of the Selected Reserve are eligible to purchase up to $400,000 of life insurance under
the Servicemembers’ Group Life Insurance (SGLI) program. The major benefits of this program
are its relatively low cost and its guarantee of payment even if death occurs as a result of combat
action (something private insurers do not always provide). Reservists who participate in SGLI can
also purchase up to $100,000 of life insurance for their spouses and are provided with $10,000 of
life insurance coverage per child at no cost.
Members of the Selected Reserve and their family members have unlimited access to the 36
commissary, a system of subsidized military supermarkets. Members of the Selected Reserve
and their family members also have unlimited access to the military exchange system, a system of
military department stores.
Members of the Selected Reserve become eligible for retirement after 20 years of qualifying
service. A year of qualifying service is defined as a year in which a reservist has earned at least 50
“retirement points.” Reservists earn 15 retirement points per year simply for being a member of
the Selected Reserve, one point for each unit training assembly (UTA), one point for each day of
annual training (AT), and one point for each day of active duty. Points can also be earned for
completing certain military correspondence courses. Earning 50 points in a given year is usually
not difficult for members of the Selected Reserve, as attending all weekend drills and two weeks 37
of annual training will generate 77 retirement points. Point totals are also important because
they are used to calculate retired pay (see below). Excluding points earned while in an active duty 38
status (which includes annual training), reservists may not earn more than 130 points per year.
36 Unlimited access to the commissary for members of the Selected Reserve and their family members was included in
the FY2004 National Defense Authorization Act (P.L. 108-136, section 651). Prior to that, members of the Selected
Reserve and their family members were limited to 24 visits per year.
37 Fifteen points for “reserve membership,” 48 points for attending 48 unit training assemblies during weekend drill,
and 14 points for attending a two-week long Annual Training.
38 The annual point “cap” has changed over time. Excluding points earned while in an active duty status, a reservists
could not earn more than: 60 in any one year of service before the year of service that includes September 23, 1996; 75
in the year of service that includes September 23, 1996, and in any subsequent year of service before the year of service
that includes October 30, 2000; 90 in the year of service that includes October 30, 2000 and in any subsequent year of
service before the year of service that includes October 30, 2007; and 130 in the year of service that includes October
30, 2007, and subsequent years. See 10 USC 12733. The increase to 130 points per year was included in section 648 of
the National Defense Authorization Act for FY2008.
Additionally, including points earned while in an active duty status, reservists may not earn more
than 365 points in a year (366 in a leap year).
After completing 20 years of qualifying service, a reservist may apply for retirement. Upon
retirement, but before reaching the retired pay eligibility age, a reservist is entitled to a limited
number of benefits, including unlimited use of the military exchange, commissary system, and
other military facilities, and space available travel on military aircraft within the United States
and its territories. Upon reaching the retired pay eligibility age—which can range between 50 and
career—the retired reservist is eligible to receive retired pay. At age 60, the retired reservist is
entitled to benefits identical to those of active duty retirees, including space-available travel on
military aircraft throughout the world and access to military medical care.
Retired pay is calculated by totaling all the points earned during all the years of service and then
dividing this sum by 360. This calculation produces the number of “equivalent years” of active
duty service the reservist has performed. The number of “equivalent years” is then multiplied by
2.5% to determine the “retirement benefit multiplier.” This multiplier is then applied to an amount
based on the monthly base pay earned by an active duty service member with similar rank and 40
years of service.
For example, a reservist who accrues 2,500 points over the course of 20 qualifying years would
be deemed to have completed the equivalent of 6.94 years of active service (2,500 divided by
360). This figure, when multiplied by 2.5%, produces a multiplier of 17.3%. Assuming that the
basic pay for an active duty service-member with similar rank and longevity was $3,000 per
month, the reservist would be entitled to retired pay in the amount of $519 per month (17.3% of
At present, there are three major statutory provisions by which reservists can be involuntarily 41
ordered to active duty by the federal government for an extended period of time. (For a
discussion of additional ways in which members of the National Guard can be called up in a non-
federal status, see question 11). These provisions differ from each other in terms of the statutory
requirements for utilization, the number and type of reservists called up, and the duration of the
call up. Depending on which of these provisions is utilized, a reserve activation is commonly
referred to as either a Presidential Reserve Call-up (PRC), a Partial Mobilization, or a Full
39 This is a recent change in the law, based on section 647 of the National Defense Authorization Act for FY2008.
Previously, reservists became eligible for retired pay at age 60. See Question 13 for more information.
40 For reservists who entered the military before September 8, 1980, the amount is the same as the base pay rate of an
active duty service member with the same rank and years of service. For reservists who entered military service on or
after that date, the amount is the average of the highest 36 months of basic pay he or she would have been entitled to on
41 There is also a statutory provision, 10 U.S.C. 12301(b), which allows the Secretary of a military department to
involuntarily order reservists to active duty “for not more than 15 days per year.”
Mobilization. There is also a special provision for the recall of retired reservists. Each of these
authorities is detailed below.
Section 12304 of Title 10 U.S.C. permits the President to authorize the involuntarily activation of
members of the Selected Reserve and the Individual Ready Reserve for a period not to exceed 42
365 days. Under this authority, up to 200,000 members of the Selected Reserve and the
Individual Ready Reserve “mobilization category”—a sub-component of the Individual Ready 43
Reserve which is currently not being utilized—may serve on active duty at one time. The
President may activate reservists under this provision of law without approval from Congress;
however, he is required to notify Congress within 24 hours of such an action. This authority has
been used to mobilize reservists during the earlier part of the Persian Gulf War (1990-91), during
the intervention in Haiti (1994-1996), during the Bosnian peacekeeping mission (1995-2004), 44
during the low intensity conflict with Iraq (1998-2003), and during the Kosovo conflict and
peacekeeping mission (1999-present). Those activated under this authority may not be used to
enforce federal authority or to suppress insurrection; nor may they be used to provide assistance
to the federal government or the states for disaster response, unless responding to an emergency
involving the use or threatened use of weapons of mass destruction or an actual or threatened 45
terrorist attack of significant proportions.
In time of a national emergency declared by the President, or when otherwise authorized in law, 46
section 12302 of Title 10 U.S.C. permits the Service Secretaries to authorize the involuntarily
42 Section 522, P.L. 109-364, the John Warner National Defense Authorization Act for FY2007, expanded this call-up
period from 270 to 365 days.
43 The law specifies that the only members of the Individual Ready Reserve who may be activated are those individuals
who belong to “the Individual Ready Reserve mobilization category and designated as essential under regulations
prescribed by the Secretary concerned....” Further, 10 USC 10144(b) specifies that individuals may not be placed in this
mobilization category unless “(A) the member volunteers for that category; and (B) the member is selected for that
category by the Secretary concerned, based upon the needs of the service and the grade and military skills of that
member.” DoD has not made it a priority to fill this “mobilization category” and currently there are no members
assigned to it. Thus, the PRC authority is effectively limited to members of the Selected Reserve at present. If this
mobilization category were to be manned and utilized, the law limits the total number of Individual Ready Reserve
members on active duty at one time to 30,000.
44 See footnote 25.
45 10 USC 12304(b) and (c). The authority to use those activated under a PRC for domestic response missions was
expanded by section 1076(c) of the John Warner National Defense Authorization Act for FY2007 (P.L. 109-364);
however, this provision was repealed by section 1068(c) of the National Defense Authorization Act for FY2008 (P.L.
46 Section 12302 of Title 10 U.S.C. states “In time of national emergency declared by the President after January 1,
1953, or when otherwise authorized by law, an authority designated by the Secretary concerned may, without the
consent of the persons concerned, order any unit, and any member not assigned to a unit organized to serve as a unit, in
the Ready Reserve under the jurisdiction of that Secretary to active duty for not more than 24 consecutive months.” The
“Secretary concerned,” as defined in 10 USC 101(a)(9), is the Secretary of the Army with respect to the Army, the
Secretary of the Air Force with respect to the Air Force, the Secretary of the Navy with respect to the Navy, Marine
Corps, and Coast Guard (when it is operating as part of the Department of the Navy), and the Secretary of Homeland
Security with respect to the Coast Guard (when it is not operating as part of the Department of the Navy). Although the
law assigns authority to mobilize reservists to an official designated by “the Secretary concerned,” the President is
ultimately responsible for the decision to order reservists to active duty.
activation of members of the Ready Reserve under his or her jurisdiction for a period not to
exceed 24 consecutive months. Up to 1 million members of the Ready Reserve may serve on
active duty at any one time under this provision of law. Reservists may be mobilized under this
provision of law without approval from Congress. This authority was used to mobilize reservists
during the later part of the Persian Gulf War (1991) when the PRC authority was no longer
sufficient to activate the number of reservists needed. President George W. Bush also invoked this
authority in the aftermath of the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks; this authority has been 47
used to mobilize reservists for Operations Noble Eagle, Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom.
In time of war or national emergency declared by Congress, or when otherwise authorized by law, 48
section 12301(a) of Title 10 U.S.C. permits the Service Secretaries to authorize the involuntarily
activation of any member of the reserve components under his or her jurisdiction. There is no
limit on the number of reservists which may be ordered to active duty under this provision and
mobilized reservists may be kept on active duty for the duration of the war or emergency plus six
Members of the Retired Reserve can be involuntarily ordered to active duty in the case of a Full
Mobilization (see previous paragraph). Under this authority, there is no limit on the number of
retired reservists who can be called to active duty and they may be kept on active duty for the
duration of the war or emergency plus six months. Additionally, the Secretary of each military
department has the authority to involuntarily order certain members of the Retired Reserve to
47 Until recently, DOD’s general policy had been to mobilize reservists for no more than one year, while allowing the
Service Secretaries to keep reservists on active duty for up to 24 cumulative months if they were needed to meet
operational or other requirements. No reservist was allowed to serve beyond 24 cumulative months under the Partial
Mobilization authority. Army Reserve and National Guard units deploying to Iraq and Afghanistan were typically
mobilized for 18 months to provide for pre-deployment training, a one-year tour in theater, demobilization, and the
utilization of accrued leave prior to release from active duty. On January 19, 2007, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates
established a new policy with respect to the exercise of Partial Mobilization in support of these operations. The new
policy specified that “from this point forward, involuntary mobilization for members of the Reserve Forces shall be for
a maximum of one year at a time. At service discretion, this period may exclude individual skill training required for
deployment and post-mobilization leave...the planning objective for involuntary mobilization of Guard/Reserve units
will remain a one year mobilized to five year demobilized ratio. However, today’s global demands will require a
number of selected Guard/Reserve units to be remobilized sooner than this standard.” In practice, this new policy limits
reserve mobilizations to about 13 or 14 months at a time for the vast majority of reservists (the exception would be
those reservist who need lengthy individual skill training to become qualified in their occupational specialty prior to
deployment). Note, however, there is no longer a prohibition on serving more than 24 cumulative months under the
Partial Mobilization authority. This is consistent with the statutory language of 10 USC 12302, which only specifies a
24 consecutive month cap.
48 Section 12301(a) of Title 10 U.S.C. states “In time of war or of national emergency declared by the Congress, or
when otherwise authorized by law, an authority designated by the Secretary concerned may, without the consent of the
persons affected, order any unit, and any member not assigned to a unit organized to serve as a unit, of a reserve
component under the jurisdiction of that Secretary to active duty for the duration of the war or emergency and for six
months thereafter. However a member on an inactive status list or in a retired status may not be ordered to active duty
under this subsection unless the Secretary concerned, with the approval of the Secretary of Defense in the case of a
Secretary of a military department, determines that there are not enough qualified Reserves in an active status or in the
inactive National Guard in the required category who are readily available.” See footnote 42 for the definition of
“Secretary concerned.” While the law assigns authority to mobilize reservists to an official designated by “the
Secretary concerned,” the President is ultimately responsible for the decision to order reservists to active duty.
active duty at any time, but this authority only applies to members of the Retired Reserve who
have a regular retirement (at least 20 years of active duty). There is a limit on the amount of time
recalled retirees can serve, and a limit on the number of officers recalled, but both of these limits 49
are waived in times of war or national emergency.
All reservists serving in Operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom are serving in a federal
status in support of a contingency operation. As such, they are entitled to pay, benefits, and legal
protections which are virtually identical to those provided to active duty servicemembers.
Specifically, they are entitled to basic pay at the same rate as active duty personnel and, if
qualified, may receive special and incentive pays including Hazardous Duty Pay, Aviation Career
Incentive Pay, Hostile Fire/Imminent Danger Pay, and special pays for health professionals. They
are also entitled to a variety of allowances that are not taxable, including Basic Allowance for
Housing (BAH), Basic Allowance for Subsistence (BAS), and, if separated from their families, a
Family Separation Allowance (FSA). Medical and dental coverage for these reservists and their
family members is virtually identical to that provided to active duty servicemembers, provided 50
the orders are for more than 30 days. Leave is accrued in the same manner as for active duty
personnel. They are also allowed to use legal assistance, child care centers, space available travel, 51
and morale, welfare and recreation (MWR) services. Finally, they are protected by both the
Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act and the Servicemembers’ Civil
Relief Act (see question 12).
The status of reservists serving in support of Operation Noble Eagle is more varied. Some have
been called up in a strictly federal status and are, therefore, receiving pay, benefits and legal
protections identical to those of reservists serving in support of Operation Enduring Freedom and
Iraqi Freedom. Certain members of the National Guard have been called up in a purely state
status, or in a state status with federal pay and benefits. They are receiving a different set of pay,
benefits, and protections. For more information on these distinctions, see questions 11 and 12.
Yes. Owing to the unique status of the National Guard as both a state and federal organization
(see question 5), they can be called to active duty either in an exclusively federal status, in an
exclusively state status, or in a state status with federal pay and benefits.
49 10 U.S.C. 688 & 690.
50 Those servicemembers with orders for 30 days or less would be eligible for any illness or injury incurred in the line
of duty. However, their families would not be eligible for Tricare benefits unless they were enrolled in the new Tricare
Reserve Select program (see question 13).
51 However, as the families of activated reservists often do not live near the military bases where these services are
provided, taking advantage of these services may be difficult. Additionally, waiting lists can limit access to child care
As members of the Reserve Component, National Guardsmen can be called to federal active duty
in the same way as other reservists (see question 9). When this happens, control passes from the
governor of the affected units and personnel to the President of the United States. When in federal
service, Guard units and personnel typically perform military training or participate in military
operations and they are entitled to the same pay, benefits, and legal protections as other reservists 52
in federal service.
As members of the militia of their state or territory, National Guardsmen can also be called up by
their governor for full-time duty. When employed in this capacity, referred to as state active duty,
National Guardsmen are considered state or territorial employees, not federal employees, and
their pay and benefits are determined by state or territorial law. They are not eligible for
protection under the Servicemembers’ Civil Relief Act or the Uniformed Services Employment
and Reemployment Rights Act (see question 12), although they may be protected by analogous
laws enacted at the state level. Typical missions performed under state active duty include th
responding to disasters and civil disorders. Additionally, shortly after September 11 2001, some
governors called up members of the National Guard to protect critical infrastructure in their
states, such as nuclear power plants, water treatment facilities, and bridges, from potential
A third form of duty for National Guardsmen involves duty under state authority but with pay and
benefits provided by the federal government, sometimes referred to as “Title 32 status” in
reference to the part of the U.S. Code which governs this duty status. Typical duties performed in
this status include inactive duty for training (IDT or “weekend drill”) and annual training (AT)
within the United States. Another type of duty which falls in this category is specified in Title 32
of the U.S. Code, Section 502(f). This provision of law provides that “a member of the National
Guard may...without his consent, but with the pay and allowances provided by law...be ordered to
perform training or other duty in addition to [IDT or AT].” This is the provision of law which was
used to provide federal funding to the states when they called up Guardsmen to provide security
at many of the nation’s airports in the aftermath of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001,
and in the aftermath of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita in 2005. Guardsmen called up under this 53
authority receive federal pay and benefits, and are entitled to certain legal protections as though
they were in federal service, but they are otherwise considered to be in a state duty status.
52 When they are ordered to federal active duty for more than 30 days, reservists receive benefits nearly identical to
service members on active duty. When ordered to active duty in for a period of 30 days or less, they receive most, but
not all, of the benefits which active duty personnel receive. (See questions 8 and 10 for more information on these
53 Specifically, they are entitled to protection under the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights
Act (USERRA), but are generally not covered by the Servicemembers’ Civil Relief Act (SCRA). SCRA does cover
members of the National Guard for “service under a call to active service authorized by the President or the Secretary
of Defense for a period of more than 30 consecutive days under Section 502(f) of Title 32, United States Code, for
purposes of responding to a national emergency declared by the President and supported by Federal funds” (P.L. 108-
189, Sec. 101(2)(A)(ii), codified at 50 U.S.C. App. 511). Those not covered by the SCRA may, however, receive civil
liability protection from state or territorial laws.
When they are called into active federal service, reservists become eligible for a broad array of
legal protections. Many of these protections are contained in the Servicemembers’ Civil Relief
Act (SCRA, P.L. 108-189), which amended and renamed the Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Civil Relief 54
Act (SSCRA) of 1940. (Note, however, that National Guardsmen who are serving in a state
status are not covered by the SCRA. National Guardsmen performing full time National Guard
duty under Title 32 of the U.S. Code are generally not covered by the SCRA, but are covered in 55
certain circumstances). Among other things, the SCRA provides most people called to active
duty with certain protections against rental property evictions, mortgage foreclosures, insurance
cancellations, and government property seizures to pay tax bills. With the exception of federally
guaranteed student loans, it also limits the amount of interest that the activated service member 56
has to pay on loans incurred prior to activation to 6%. For a full description of the legal
protections provided to activated reservists by the SCRA, see CRS Report RL32360, The
Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (P.L. 108-189), by Estela I. Velez Pollack.
Reservists’ employment and re-employment rights are covered under the Uniformed Services 57
Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA) of 1994. USERRA prohibits employers
from discriminating against reservists—including National Guard personnel performing full-time
National Guard duty under Title 32 of the U.S. Code, but not those performing state active duty
(see question 12)—with respect to hiring, retention, promotion, or other benefits and requires
employers to give these individuals time off for military service, regardless of whether the service 5859
is voluntary or involuntary. This time off is treated as a furlough or leave of absence, and the 60
reservist may not be required to use vacation leave, annual leave, or similar leave. Upon the
completion of such military service, USERRA generally gives the reservist a right to re-61
Although there are some exceptions, a reservist is usually entitled to be promptly re-employed by
his or her civilian employer and, depending on certain factors, to be reinstated to either (1) the job
54 50 USC App. 501 et. seq.
55 See footnote 54. See questions 5 and 11 for more information on non-federal status for National Guardsmen.
56 The interest rate provision does not apply to federally guaranteed student loans due to a separate provision in the
statutes that govern the Federal Family Education Loan Program. Specifically, 20 U.S.C. 1078(d) states that “No
provision of any law of the United States (other than this chapter) or of any State (other than a statute applicable
principally to such State’s student loan insurance program) which limits the rate or amount of interest payable on loans
shall apply to a loan - (1) which bears interest (exclusive of any premium for insurance) on the unpaid principal balance
at a rate not in excess of the rate specified in this part; and (2) which is insured (i) by the United States under this part,
or (ii) by a guaranty agency under a program covered by an agreement made pursuant to subsection (b) of this section.”
57 38 USC Chapter 43. USERRA protects not only reservists, but also those who choose to serve in the active
component military for less than five years.
58 38 USC 4311(a).
59 38 USC 4316 (b)(A).
60 38 USC 4316(d). Reservists may, however, choose to use their vacation leave, annual leave, or similar leave while
they are performing military service. Some reservists choose to do this so that they can continue to receive pay from
their civilian employer while away on military duty.
61 38 USC 4312.
that the person would have held if the reservist’s employment had not been interrupted by
military service, (2) the job which the reservist actually held at the time military service began, or
(3) a job comparable to the one the reservist held at the time military service began. A comparable
job is one of similar pay, status, and seniority that the reservist is qualified to perform.
Finally, upon reinstatement, the reservist is entitled not only to the seniority and seniority-based
benefits he or she held at the time military service began but also to any additional seniority and
seniority-based benefits that the reservist would have earned if he or she had remained 62
continuously employed. For example, suppose a reservist has nine years of seniority with his or
her civilian employer and then leaves to perform two years of military service. Upon returning to
work at the end of that two year period, the reservist will be considered to have 11 years of
seniority with the civilian employer, and all the rights and benefits that go with that. USERRA
also provides certain protection to reservists with respect to job retraining, employer provided 63
health care plans, and employer provided pension plans.
Reservists do have an obligation to notify their employer as soon as possible about upcoming
military service. They also have an obligation to report to work, or to notify their employers that
they intend to report to work, within a relatively short time after being released from active duty. 64
Failure to meet these obligations may effectively nullify a reservist’s right to re-employment.
Reservists who believe their civilian employer has violated their rights under USERRA have
several options. The first is to contact their commanding officer, who may be able to resolve the
issue with the employer. Alternatively, reservists may contact the National Committee for
Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve (NCESGR), a Department of Defense organization
which will contact the employer and attempt to resolve the problem informally. Finally, a
complaint can be made to the Veterans’ Employment and Training Service (VETS) of the
Department of Labor. VETS has the legal authority to enforce USERRA if an employer has
Yes. In recent years Congress has made a number of significant changes in Reserve Component
pay and benefits. The most significant of those changes are: (1) establishing a premium-based
Tricare benefit for non-activated reservists, (2) creating a new educational benefit for reservists
who have been mobilized since September 11, 2001, (3) providing an additional payment of up to
$3,000 per month for certain reservists who experience a reduction in income when activated, and
(4) lowering the age at which certain reservists can draw retired pay below 60. Each of these
changes is discussed below.
62 38 USC 4316.
63 38 USC 4313, 4317, 4318.
64 38 USC 4312 (e).
When ordered to federal active duty for more than 30 days, members of the National Guard and
Reserves are entitled to receive medical benefits under Tricare (the military’s health care system)
for themselves and their family members. However, up until recently, non-activated reservists had
limited access to Tricare for themselves and no access for their families. This began to change in thth
activated reservists and their families.
In 2004, Congress authorized the TRICARE Reserve Select (TRS) program for Reserve 65
Component members. The program has gone through several modifications since then, but as of
October 1, 2007, it permits most members of the Selected Reserve who are not on active duty to
obtain coverage similar to that of TRICARE Standard and TRICARE Extra by paying a premium 66
of 28% of the total costs of their coverage. The actual premiums for TRS coverage in 2008 are
$81 per month for an individual reservist, and $253 per month for the reservist and his family
The 108th Congress passed legislation which provides enhanced “GI Bill” type educational
benefits for reservists who have served in support of a contingency operation since September 11,
currently serving military personnel: the Montgomery G.I. Bill Active Duty (MGIB-AD) and the 68
Montgomery G.I. Bill Selected Reserve (MGIB-SR). Eligibility for the basic MGIB-AD benefit
typically requires three years of continuous active duty service and a deduction totalling $1,200 69
from the servicemembers pay. The basic benefit for full-time study provided by MGIB-AD is
65 Ronald W. Reagan National Defense Authorization Act for FY2005, P.L. 108-375, section 701.
66 The 108th Congress passed legislation allowing certain members of the Selected Reserve and their family members to
receive coverage under the Tricare Standard option. To be eligible, the reservist must have served on active duty in
support of a contingency operation since September 11, 2001, and had to sign an agreement to continue serving in the
Selected Reserve. The duration of eligibility was set at a maximum of one year for each 90 days of service, or for the
duration of the service agreement, whichever was shorter. Additionally, the reservist would have to pay a premium, set th
at 28% of the amount which the Secretary of Defense determined to be actuarially reasonable. The 109 Congress
enhanced the original TRS program and established two new “tiers.” The first new tier provided coverage under the
Tricare Standard option to members of the Selected Reserve who commited to one year of continued service in the
Selected Reserve and who were either (a) “eligible unemployment compensation recipients,”(b) ineligible for health
care benefits under an employer sponsored health benefits plan, or (c) self-employed. These reservists would have had
to pay a premium set at 50% of the amount which the Secretary of Defense determined to be actuarially reasonable.
The second new tier provided coverage under the Tricare Standard option to those members of the Selected Reserve
who do not qualify under the original TRS or the unemployed/uninsured tier mentioned above, and who commited to
one year of continued service in the Selected Reserve. These reservists would have had to pay a premium set at 85% of
the amount which the Secretary of Defense determined to be actuarially reasonable. Before the new tiered system could
be implemented, Congress passed the FY2007 John Warner National Defense Authorization Act (P.L. 109-364) which
replaced the three-tiered program with a single program that permits non-active duty reservists to obtain TRICARE
coverage by paying a premium of 28% of the total costs of their coverage. Members of the Selected Reserve who are
eligible for the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program are not eligible for TRS.
67 Title 32, Chapter 30, United States Code.
68 Title 10, Chapter 1606, United States Code.
69 A reduced benefit amount of $894 per month—as of October 1, 2007—is also available for certain individuals who
serve at least two years of active duty; they are also required to contribute $1,200 to become eligible for the program.
$1,101 per month, as of October 1, 2007, for up to 36 months. Eligibility for the MGIB-SR
benefit requires a six year commitment to serve in the Selected Reserve, but requires no
contributions on the part of the reservist. The educational benefit for full-time study provided by
this program is $317 per month, as of October 1, 2007, for up to 36 months. Although the MGIB-
SR program requires no contribution (as the MGIB-AD program does), the monthly payments
under MGIB-AD are about three and a half times greater than those made under MGIB-SR.
While reservists who served on active duty for at least 24 consecutive months were eligible for
the reduced MGIB-AD benefit (provided they contributed $1,200 like their active duty peers),
those reservists who served less than 24 consecutive months generally remained eligible only for
the MGIB-SR until recently. In 2004, Congress established a new program to provide enhanced
educational benefits to reservists who were “called or ordered to active service in response to a
war or national emergency declared by the President or the Congress, in recognition of the 70
sacrifices that those members make in answering the call to duty.”
Under this new program, called the Reserve Educational Assistance Program (REAP) by the 71
Department of Veterans’ Affairs, eligible reservists will receive the following educational
benefit for full time study for up to 36 months: 40% of the MGIB-AD basic benefit for those
serving 90 consecutive days but less than one consecutive year; 60% of the MGIB-AD basic
benefit for those serving one consecutive year but less than two consecutive years; and 80% of
the MGIB-AD basic benefit for those serving two consecutive years or more. As of October 1,
2007, the 40% benefit equates to $440.40 per month, the 60% benefit equates to $660.60 per
month, and the 80% benefit equates to $880.80 per month. REAP does not require any
contribution on the part of reservists like the MGIB-AD program does. Originally, eligibility
continued only so long as the individual remained in Selected Reserve, for those activated while
serving in the Selected Reserve, or the Individual Ready Reserve/Inactive National Guard, for
those activated while serving in the Individual Ready Reserve/Inactive National Guard. However, th
the 110 Congress amended the REAP law, retroactive to the original provision’s date of
enactment, allowing members of the Selected Reserve entitled to this benefit to use it for up to ten 72
years after separating from the reserves.
70 P.L. 108-375, Ronald W. Reagan National Defense Authorization Act for FY2005, section 527, October 28,2004.
71 The eligibility requirements specified in the statute are as follows:
“(a) ELIGIBILITY—On or after September 11, 2001, a member of a reserve component is entitled to educational
assistance under this chapter if the member—(1) served on active duty in support of a contingency operation for 90
consecutive days or more; or (2) in the case of a member of the Army National Guard of the United States or Air
National Guard of the United States, performed full time National Guard duty under section 502(f) of title 32 for 90
consecutive days or more when authorized by the President or Secretary of Defense for the purpose of responding to a
national emergency declared by the President and supported by Federal funds.
(b) DISABLED MEMBERS.—Notwithstanding the eligibility requirements in subsection (a), a member who was
ordered to active service as prescribed under subsection (a)(1) or (a)(2) but is released from duty before completing 90
consecutive days because of an injury, illness or disease incurred or aggravated in the line of duty shall be entitled to
educational assistance under this chapter at the rate prescribed in section 16162(c)(4)(A) of this title.”
72 P.L. 110-181, National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2008, section 530, January 28, 2008. Additionally,
as part of the original language, those involuntarily separated from the Selected Reserve, Individual Ready Reserve or
Inactive National Guard on account of disability have 10 years to use the benefit.
The mobilization of reservists in the aftermath of the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks has
been the largest since the Korean War and one of the longest ongoing mobilizations ever. Some of
these reservists have experienced financial losses when moving from their civilian jobs to full
time military status. These losses occur due to differences between the reservists’ military and
civilian pay, expenses incurred by reservists because of mobilization, and the decline in business
experienced by self-employed reservists during and after release from active duty. This has
generated numerous complaints from mobilized reservists and helped generate congressional
interest in the subject.
The 109th Congress enacted a provision that provides a special payment of up to $3,000 to certain 73
reservists who experience income loss while mobilized. Reservists who have experienced
income loss become eligible for these payments in any full month of active duty following the
month in which they: (a) complete 18 consecutive months of active duty under an involuntary
mobilization order; (b) complete 24 months of active duty under an involuntary mobilization
order out of the previous 60 months; or (c) are involuntarily mobilized for a period of 180 days or
more within six months or less of a previous period of involuntary active duty for a period of 180
days or more. The amount of compensation available under this provision is equal to the 74
reservist’s “average monthly civilian income” minus “total monthly military compensation.”
However, the amount may not be less then $50 per month or more than $3,000 per month.
After completing 20 years of qualifying service, a reservist may apply for retirement. Once
retired, the reservist is entitled to receive certain benefits immediately; however, until recently he
or she was not entitled to receive retired pay or low-cost access to the military health care system
until the age of 60. In light of the heavy use of the Reserve Component in recent years, a number thth
of legislative proposals were introduced in the 108 and 109 Congresses to lower the age at th
which reservists receive retired pay and military retiree health care benefits. During the 110
Congress, a provision was included in the National Defense Authorization Act for FY2008 which
permits certain reservists to draw retired pay as early as age 50, while maintaining the age for
access to the military health care system at 60.
The new law reduces the age for receipt of retired pay for members of the Ready Reserve by three
months for each aggregate of 90 days of specified duty performed in any fiscal year after January
28, 2008 (the date of enactment of the FY2008 National Defense Authorization Act). Specified
duty includes active duty under any provision of law referred to in 10 USC 101(a)(13)(B), active
73 P.L. 109-163, National Defense Authorization Act for FY2006, section 614, January 6, 2006.
74 The term “average monthly civilian income” means “the amount, determined by the Secretary concerned, of the
earned income of the member for either the 12 months preceding the member’s mobilization or the 12 months covered
by the member’s most recent Federal income tax filing, divided by 12.” The term “total monthly military
compensation” means “the amount, computed on a monthly basis, of the sum of—(A) the amount of regular military
compensation (RMC); and (B) any amount of special pay or incentive pay and any allowance (other than an allowance
included in regular military compensation) that is paid to the member on a monthly basis.” Regular military
compensation (RMC) is defined in 37 USC 101(25) as “the total of the following elements that a member of a
uniformed service accrues or receives, directly or indirectly, in cash or in kind every payday: basic pay, basic
allowance for housing, basic allowance for subsistence, and Federal tax advantage accruing to the aforementioned
allowances because they are not subject to Federal income tax.”
duty under 10 USC 12301(d); or active service under 32 USC 502(f) if responding to a national 75
emergency declared by the President or supported by federal funds. The retired pay eligibility
age could not be reduced below age 50, and eligibility for retiree health care benefits would
remain at age 60. This law will have no effect on: reservists who are already retired as of January
28, 20008 (unless they are recalled to active duty); reservists who do not perform any of the types
of specified duty during their careers; or reservists who performed the specified duty prior to
January 28, 2008. It will only reduce the retirement age for those reservists who perform
qualifying duty after January 28, 2008.
Specialist in Military Manpower Policy
75 Qualifying duty would include mobilization in support of Operation Noble Eagle, Enduring Freedom, or Iraqi
Freedom, provided the duty occurred after January 28, 2008.