The Total Force Policy
History of The Iowa National Guard
CW2 David L. Snook
In 1970, while America was still fighting the Vietnam War, plans were made to reduce military expenditures. President Nixon wanted to streamline the nation’s military establishment, while maintaining the United States’ worldwide commitments. He also wanted to defuse war protests by ending the Selective Service draft.
Secretary of Defense Melvin Laird explained the new "Total Force Concept" in a press conference on August 21,1970. Laird explained that the president’s requested reductions of defense expenditures would require reductions in all facets of the active forces and increased reliance on the combat and combat support units of the National Guard and the Reserves. He further stated that "a total force concept (would) be applied in all aspects of planning, programming, manning, equipping, and employing Guard and Reserve forces." (Hartman, Douglas, Nebraska’s Militia, The Donning Company, 1994, p. 203) Laird’s message included the following specific objectives:
*Increase the readiness, reliability, and timely responsiveness of the combat and combat support units of the Guard and Reserves and individuals of the Reserves.
*Support and maintain minimum average trained strengths of the Selected Reserve as mandated by Congress.
*Provide and maintain combat standard equipment for Guard and Reserve units in necessary quantities.
*Implement and approve ten-year construction programs for the Guard ad Reserves.
*Provide adequate support of individual and unit training programs.
*Provide manning levels for technicians and training administration reserve support personnel (TARS) equal to full authorization levels.
*Program adequate resources and establish necessary priorities to achieve required readiness levels.
The Total Force Concept brought a new level of support for the National Guard and Reserves. General Creighton Abrams, United States Army Chief of Staff, reorganized the "Total Army" so that the Regular Army could not conduct an extended campaign without mobilizing the Guard and Reserves, thus gaining the involvement and, hopefully, the support of small-town America. "Total Force" continues to be Defense Department policy, but it has never been fully implemented because the armed forces (with the exception of the Air Force) have never provided the necessary resources to fully upgrade the Guard and Reserves to a level commensurate with active forces. (Greenlief, Francis S., Major General Ret., "The Total Force Policy of the 1970s." in Nebraska’s Militia, pp. 202-203)