The Navy Reserves

On 3 Mar 1915, the US Naval Reserve was founded.

Toward the end of the Nineteenth Century “naval militias,” organized in a number of states, represented the Navy’s manpower reserve. During the Spanish-American War naval militia units assisted in coastal defense and served aboard Navy ships. Militiamen from Massachusetts, New York, Michigan, and Maryland manned four auxiliary cruisers—Prairie, Yankee, Yosemite, and Dixie—seeing action off Cuba.

As successful as the state naval militias were in the Spanish-American War, the outbreak of WWI demonstrated that a modern war at sea required a federal naval reserve force. Navy Secretary Josephus Daniels and his assistant, a young New Yorker named Franklin Roosevelt, launched a campaign in Congress to appropriate funding for such a force. Their efforts brought passage of legislation creating the Naval Reserve Force, whose members served in the cockpits of biplanes and hunted enemy U-boats during the Great War.

During the inter-war years the Naval Reserve gradually expanded with the creation of the Naval Aviation Cadet program and the Naval Reserve Officer Training Corps. On the eve of the Pearl Harbor attack virtually all of its members were serving on active duty. Over the course of the ensuing four years, the Navy would grow from a force of 380,000 to one that at its peak numbered over 3 million, the vast majority of them Reservists, including five future US presidents.

The decades following WWII brought many conflicts — the Cold War, Korea, Vietnam, the Gulf War, Afghanistan and Iraq. Navy Reservists served in every one of them. Today’s Navy Reserve Force, over 63,000 strong, is absolutely vital to our Navy’s ability to fight and win wars. Navy Reservists strive, every day, to live up to the promise made in the Navy Reserve motto: “Ready Now. Anytime, Anywhere.”

Happy Birthday, Navy Reserve!

2 Comments

  1. David Carter March 12, 2012 at 5:57 pm -

    Colonel Gillem,
    Thanks for the article on the Navy Reserves. The Navy Reserve is more vital than ever to our nation’s defense. We can’t afford enough Active Duty Sailors to do all that is asked of our Navy today so the Navy Reserve must stay “Ready Now. Anytime, Anywhere.” I’m sure the new policy of “Guaranteed Access” is some thing most civilians and many “Regular” military personnel are unaware of. Simply stated is means the Reserve Component can be call up to augment any need the Active Component needs. No Title 10 authority needed. I personally have no problem with it, but what about our employers. Deployments are projected to be about every 24 months. How many employers are going to support that???

  2. denny April 17, 2012 at 12:47 am -

    It is, indeed, David. Thank you for your service.

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