Less than two weeks after the youngest of America's military reserve components celebrated its birthday, now the oldest member of the family is preparing to observe its own anniversary.

On April 14, 2019, the United States Air Force Reserve turned 71 years young, and on April 23, the U.S. Army Reserve will celebrate 111 years of age. In addition to being the country's oldest reserve component, the USAR also holds the distinction of being the largest, with nearly 200,000 members.

With more than ten decades of existence to draw from, the U.S. Army Reserve has a rich historical tradition that is worth remembering and honoring as the nation celebrates its most recent anniversary.

Army Reservists crucial to US military operations since WWI

Though officially only 111 years old, the Army Reserve could legitimately trace its roots back as far the French and Indian War of the mid-1700s. Until the 19th century, America did not require a large standing army, and so relied heavily on the militias of individual states.

It was not until April 23, 1908, that Congress first created a Federal Reserve Force. As a response to mobilization and preparedness issues that the country had experienced during its wars of the 1800s, the United States created the first reserve force to exist under direct command and control of the federal government, known then as the Medical Reserve Corps.

A few years later, the "Preparedness Movement" led by former President Theodore Roosevelt would help secure passage of the National Defense Act of 1916, which created the Officer's Reserve Corps, the Enlisted Reserve Corps and Reserve Officers' Training Corps. When war was declared the following year, the ranks of the Officer Reserve Corps swelled dramatically.

In total, the Army mobilized nearly 90,000 Reserve officers during World War I, roughly a third of whom were medical doctors, which quadrupled the Army's capacity to care for the sick and wounded.

Following the Great War, Congress used the National Defense Act of 1920 to reorganize the U.S. land forces by authorizing a Regular Army, a National Guard and an Organized Reserve, which encompassed the Officers Reserve Corps and Enlisted Reserve Corps and provided a peacetime pool of trained Reserve officers and enlisted men.

"The appearance of U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) visual information does not imply or constitute DoD endorsement.""The appearance of U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) visual information does not imply or constitute DoD endorsement."

This proved to be a wise decision when America was once again plunged into a global conflict. According to the USAR, roughly one quarter of all Army officers who served in World War II came from the Organized Reserve, and from 1943 to 1944, Reserve officers constituted over half of all officers killed in action.

Having further established their importance in WWII, the Organized Reserve was rewarded with retirement and drill pay for the first time in 1948. Two years later, Reservists were again called into action, with more than 240,000 Army Reserve Soldiers serving in active duty during the Korean War. It was also during that conflict that Congress officially changed the Organized Reserve Corps into the United States Army Reserve, and divided the new organization into a Ready Reserve, Standby Reserve and Retired Reserve.

According to, the USAR was only mobilized twice during the subsequent Cold War: from 1961-1962, when over 68,500 Army Reserve Soldiers responded to the Berlin Crisis, and from 1968-1969, when nearly 6,000 were called into action as part of the Vietnam War.

In recent years, though, the U.S. Army Reserve has become more essential than ever to our nation's military operations across the globe. Both the Army Reserve and the Army National Guard have been routinely called upon to serve both locally and globally, though primarily in Iraq and Afghanistan. Since September 11, 2001, over 200,000 Army Reserve Soldiers have been activated in the Global War on Terrorism, outnumbering the number of Reservists in WWII.

Simply put, the nation cannot go to war without its Army Reserve Warrior Citizens, all of whom are owed a debt of gratitude as we celebrate the protection they have provided for well over a century.