An interdisciplinary model to evaluate alternative roles of military reserve components in modern American society

John Michael Kirby, Salve Regina University


The thesis of this dissertation is that an integrated, interdependent Total Force structure will best serve America's national interests. It best serves the nation's democratic ethos; it is in accordance with the requirements of the external environment within which this nation exists; and it is both required and enabled by the advent of modern technology, the implementation and integration of which has changed the very nature of warfare. This dissertation deals with a specific American civil-military dilemma: military efficiency versus social legitimacy. It develops models to analyze the role of reserve military forces in contemporary American society. Active forces are most efficient, but lack social legitimacy. Therefore, the American military must include reserve elements to insure social and congressional support. Reserve forces provide a link to society, and society is willing to accept an added element of risk to preserve this link. An efficient military is critical to modern diplomacy. However, America will not support the military without its reserve/militia foundation, which is most definitely not the most efficient organization. Therefore, internal social values (philosophical grounds) conflict with the rational requirements of the international environment. The influence of technology moderates this dilemma. It allows for increased Total Force efficiency through organizational structure and adaptation, changes in military doctrine and training, and finally through increased reserve availability and accessibility. Technology also helps to legitimize the military and the use of force through inclusion of reserve elements that retain social and community values. This work shows the evolution of a professional reserve force and discusses possible military and social ramifications. The end result is a technologically elite active force supported by a professional reserve that considers itself full-fledged members of the military establishment. The elite, professional military our forefathers feared now exists, and it is rapidly becoming a smaller, yet more capable and lethal force because of its technological prowess. Finally, this work recommends a Total Force organization to best comply with the military, political, and social environments within which the reserve forces exist.

Subject Area

Philosophy|Social structure|Political science|American studies

Recommended Citation

Kirby, John Michael, "An interdisciplinary model to evaluate alternative roles of military reserve components in modern American society" (2000). Doctoral Dissertations. AAI9955557.

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