Nation: Trimming the Totem

Despite two major efforts in five years to streamline the Army Reserve and National Guard, their usefulness in an emergency would still be seriously impaired by the many units that remain undermanned and underequipped. Last week the Pentagon announced a third reorganization plan for both groups, aimed at cutting fat and building reflex-fast muscle.

This time the Defense Department shied away from its politically unpopular proposal to merge federal Reserve and the state-run Guard. Instead, it recommended outright elimination of 15 understrength Guard divisions, four Reserve brigades and many other smaller units. Total authorized personnel would shrink by only 38,500—to 640,000—because surviving...

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