The Salty Wog includes a page for Navy Reserve stuff and I conceived of it as a place for Reserve discussions – and yet haven’t done a single one yet. Instead I’ve been off doing movie reviews and long-winded explanations of The Way Things Are. Which will continue, to be sure. But the Reserve page deserves some content, and I’ll start with a bit of what the Navy Reserve is.
As of this writing, the active-duty Navy is home to 328,828 personnel (the latest numbers may be found here). The Navy Reserve, writ large, is about a third that size, at 107,440 individuals. Those 100,000+ trained Sailors provide a strategic manpower reserve to augment the rest of the Navy in a time of need. So if you add it all up, there’s something like 435,000 people in varying stages of affiliation with the Navy.
But there is, as always, more to it than that. The Navy Reserve gets sliced and diced a lot of ways. About half of those affiliated are in the Individual Ready Reserve (IRR), which means their name appears on a list somewhere but they’re not obligated to do anything unless there’s an emergency call-up. Most folks who serve their minimum active duty obligation end up in this situation. We’re generally obligated to eight years of service total, with the first five or so on active duty, but after that our names remain on the list until all eight years are up, even if we never put on a uniform for the latter chunk of time.
The rest – currently numbering about 57,000 – are in the Full-Time Support (FTS) and Selected Reserve (SELRES) communities. There are around 10,000 FTS and 47,000 SELRES, give or take. FTS is an active duty portion of the Navy Reserve in which members have tours both with the regular Navy and in direct support of Reserve operations and administration. SELRES is made up of the Weekend Warriors you hear so much about. Broadly speaking, most SELRES members belong to units that directly support something in the Navy’s active component or bureaucracy. My Reserve unit helps plan and execute pre-deployment training for East Coast ships, for example. Others do Pentagon admin, provide port operations expertise, or maintain and operate small riverine boats – and dozens of other missions. SELRES members get paid to do these things part time; one weekend a month, two weeks a year.
But paying people to train isn’t necessarily beneficial if they don’t apply that training – so we have mobilizations. That’s where I’m at. As of this month, nearly 3,000 Navy Reservists are mobilized to various active duty gigs, and I’m one of them. Some folks are mobilized to places like Colorado Springs or Tampa, but I am not one of those. A significant portion end up in the Middle East, largely Bahrain. I am attached to a staff that is in charge of the daily operations of some of the U.S. Navy ships in the area, so mostly I stay up to date on what’s going on and inform the right people. A lot of the security folks (Masters-at-Arms) are Reservists, and discussions of Reserve affairs can often be heard on and off base.
Several friends and I have been mobilized after only two or three years in the SELRES; on the other hand, I’ve known senior officers who never mobilized in more than a decade of Reserve service. Life is like a box of chocolates, etc.
There is more, of course, with the obvious questions about what motivates people to join. But this post is already long-ish, and with the last one being quite the marathon, it is probably time to cut it short. But now at least you know what the Navy Reserve is. That alone sets you apart from most people.