Soldiers and civilians celebrate the U.S. Army Reserve's 109th birthday at Fort Bragg, N.C., April 21, 2017. Created April 23, 1908 as the Medical Reserve Corps, America's Army Reserve of today has transformed into a capable, combat-ready, and lethal Federal reserve force in support of the Army at home and abroad. (U.S. Army Reserve photo by Stephanie Ramirez/Released)
By Rindi White
The Nation’s Federal Reserve Force, more commonly known as the U.S. Army Reserve, marks its 109th birthday on April 23.
At the time it was created in 1908, no reserve force existed that was under direct command and control of the federal government. The aim of the newly created force was to produce a mobilized and prepared fighting force. According to the U.S. Army Reserve history site, President Theodore Roosevelt’s “Preparedness Movement” led to the creation of the National Defense Act of 1916, which led to the creation of the Officer’s Reserve Corps and the Enlisted Reserve Corps, predecessors of the current Army Reserve.
The reserve force mobilized nearly 90,000 reserve officers during its first conflict, World War I. Fully one-third were medical doctors, quadrupling the ability of the Army to care for sick and wounded. Today, according to the Army Reserve, nearly 60 percent of the total Army’s medical capacity stems from the Army Reserve.
Today, nearly 15,000 Army Reserve soldiers are stationed around the world as support for combatant commands. The Army Reserve responds to national disasters and is ready to support state and federal agencies for domestic emergencies and disaster relief efforts, according to the Reserve.
Since 2001, more than 300,000 Army Reserve soldiers have been mobilized and deployed across the globe, to every major combat zone, according to the Reserve. Steady demand for Army Reserve capabilities means the U.S. relies on the Army Reserve as a critical part of our national security architecture.
“The Army Reserve remains a premier force provider of America’s Citizen Soldiers for planned and emerging missions at home and abroad,” the Reserve states.
“In its 109 years, the Army Reserve has evolved to a globally positioned and engaged operational force — the most capable, combat-ready and lethal Reserve in the history of the nation,” Maj. Gen. Mark Palzer, commander of the 79th Sustainment Support Command, said in a birthday message to the Army Reserve issued in March.
The Army Reserve does more than respond to national disasters and support combatant troops abroad, however. At Army Space Command, Army Reserve soldiers work on research and development projects to support homeland defense.
The U.S. Army Reserve Element-Defense Information Systems Agency supports a range of missions, according to the Reserve, including protecting and defending essential elements of the Global Information Grid, ensuring its availability, integrity, authenticity and confidentiality. USARE-DISA, as the agency is called, has several detachments across the U.S. and has mobilized to support operations around the world.
Reservists today are in good company — a number of notable figures served in the Army Reserves.
President Harry S. Truman was a captain commanding Battery D, 129th Field Artillery, in World War II, and after the war he served in the Reserve, attaining the rank of colonel.
Medal of Honor recipient and former Sen. Daniel Inouye, D-Hawaii, was a captain of the 442nd Regimental Combat Team during World War II. He received the Medal of Honor for his actions fighting Germans in Italy.
Actor Charles Durning, who appeared in more than 200 movies, television shows and plays, was a rifleman in the 398th Infantry Regiment, 100th Infantry Division during World War II. He was one of the first soldiers to land at Omaha Beach. His best-known movies roles are in “The Sting,” “Dog Day Afternoon,” “The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas,” “Tootsie” and “To Be or Not to Be.”
Other notable Reservists: President Ronald Reagan; actor Leonard Nimoy, who played Spock in the “Star Trek” franchise; Henry Kissinger, Secretary of State and Nobel Peace Prize recipient; John Fogerty, Creedence Clearwater Revival singer and guitarist; actor and entertainer Mel Brooks; publisher and entrepreneur Malcolm Forbes; and actor Alan Alda, famous for his portrayal of surgeon Hawkeye Pierce on the television series “M.A.S.H.”