Why Spend $139K For a Soldier You Can Get for $44K?

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How much of our military do we need perpetually trained to the highest readiness level, and how much can we safely consign to the reserve forces? It’s a debate that is going to start heating up anew later this week, when the Pentagon reveals a little of what it is planning to spend money on beginning in 2013 (everything will end up public Feb. 13, when the Obama Administration unveils its full spending plan for the coming year). It’ll mark the first time the Pentagon details where it’s planning on making $487 billion in cuts it has agreed to over the coming decade, as well as retooling the U.S. military in accord with President Obama’s strategic guidance released Jan 5.

Look for the reserve forces, led by the National Guard, to detail how the nation can have three part-timers for each active-duty troop on its payroll (per this chart; click on it to enlarge). You can count on them to argue that the balance should be shifted away from the 24/7 military toward more reservists. It’ll be interesting to see how much clout the Guard – which, after all, got its top commander onto the Joint Chiefs of Staff recently over the opposition of the Joint Chiefs – has in this coming clash of the titans.