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National Archives

Public Papers - 1990

Statement by Press Secretary Fitzwater on the Mobilization of United States Reserves


The President today authorized the Secretary of Defense to call Reserve units of the Armed Forces to active duty. The order permits the Secretary of Defense to call to duty selected members and units of the Reserve components of the Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marine Corps as needed to support United States and multinational operations now underway. The President signed the order after the Secretary of Defense advised him that the effective conduct of military operations in and around the Arabian Peninsula may require augmentation of Active components of the Armed Forces. The actual number of Reserve personnel to be called to active duty will depend upon the operational needs of the Armed Forces, but at this time, we do not anticipate approaching the full 200,000 authority provided by law.

The Total Force Policy, which was established in 1973, allocates various military capabilities among the Active, Reserve, and National Guard components that together make up the Armed Forces of the United States. Under this policy, the capability to perform certain critical military activities has been concentrated in the Reserve component. Activating reservists to support operations such as those now underway has been a central feature of this approach.

The skills concentrated in the Reserve component include airlift, food and water handling, surface transportation, cargo handling, medical services, construction, and intelligence. By making judicious use of the President's authorization, the Secretary of Defense will be able to ensure that essential capabilities such as these and others are available to support our operational requirements.

The President issued the order authorizing the Secretary of Defense to call Reserve units to active duty in accordance with section 673b of title 10 of the United States Code. The order also authorizes the Secretary of Transportation to call to active duty elements of the Coast Guard Reserve. Another order signed by the President permits the Secretary of Defense greater flexibility in military personnel management actions.

Note: The Executive orders are listed in Appendix E at the end of this volume.

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