In what was a shortsighted method to refurbish the aging Reserve infrastructure, the Army Reserve actively sought and achieved the closure of hundreds of local Reserve Facilities during the last BRAC deliberations. For years with a serious lack of funds, reserve facilities were slowly disintegrating and falling into disrepair. The answer determined by USARC was to plan to build large centralized Reserve facilities (Usually on a military installation) and transfer the reserve units to those facilities using BRAC dollars.
While this sounds like a workable solution to reduce the facility workload for the Army Reserve it will have a negative effect on already strained Reserve recruitment. Consider the requirement as it will exist in Eastern PA – the new 18 Year old soldier must travel 90 miles (2 hours) to attend drill with his/her unit at Ft. Dix, NJ. It is assuming a lot that the 18 Year old has a reliable vehicle, can navigate the distance, receives parental consent or support and has a place to stay overnight at such a distant location. The plan as envisioned works well for senior and more established members of Reserve Units but is impractical for the newest and less resourced enlisted soldiers. Couple the expense of the trip which is un-reimbursed and the traditional small pay check for the weekend drill and the Cost benefit ratio further works against enlistment with the Army Reserve. The National Guard remains local and all other things being equal, provides a better alternative for enlistment and local commutes to drill.
The movement to large centers will crowd and stress lodging, classroom, training facilities if additional resources are not applied to those needs. There will be very little surge capability and major installation events will effectively cripple portions of training resources when they occur.
The Army Reserve asked for this plan when working to offer up the Reserve Centers for BRAC to fund the creation of new Reserve Centers. Refer back here dear reader when the effect on Reserve Enlistment is felt…