Reserve (military)

from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
The reservists born in 1913 of the 5th Company of the 1st East Prussian Grenadier Regiment No. 1 "Crown Prince" with the usual utensils: reservist whistle, reservist stick, reservist jugs and reservist bottles.

In the military system, a reserve is generally used to describe all organizational, material, infrastructural and personnel measures that enable the military to grow. What is specifically meant is the entirety of those citizens who have done military service and can be called up for military service in the event of an alarm to reinforce personnel.

Reserves in peace

In peacetime the reserve counts each conscripts and able-bodied person, referred to as a reservist or reservist. In Germany, this includes all former soldiers who are fit for military service as well as all men who are fit for military service. In the event of mobilization , these persons join reserve units. In most countries, the reserve units exist in varying degrees of readiness, even in peacetime.

The reserve structure of the Federal Republic of Germany in the 1980s can be used as an example of comprehensive planning:

  • Raising battalions, the majority of which consisted of active soldiers and only had to be supplemented (after the last digit, so-called 1st battalions of the brigades)
  • Mobilization Reserve 1 made up of trained soldiers who constantly took part in the periodic military exercises and were part of the mobilization troops. The material of the associations (weapons, vehicles, ammunition, etc.) was stored ready and could be handed out immediately, clothing was not necessary, as everyone who had been scheduled had their clothing at home.
  • Mobilization Reserve 2 made up of trained soldiers who had not done any military exercises for several years. After being called up, these reservists were initially clad in field training units and retrained in order to then be either assigned to active or reserve units as personnel substitutes for failures.
  • Replacement reserve of untrained conscript men who should first be trained in field training units.

Reservists play an important role in all modern armed forces. However, the specific design and tasks of reserve components vary from country to country. Concepts are often found in which reservists are the focus of the (often infantry-heavy) territorial defense structure. Examples of this are the National Guard of the United States of America or the British Territorial Army . The main task of the appropriately scheduled reservists in this case is to ensure the freedom of operations in rear areas for the regular armed forces. There are also armed forces which, due to their defense doctrine, can be classified as a whole as territorial defense forces, i.e. This means that the entire state territory is used as a strategic means of maintaining state sovereignty. Such armies often consist mainly of reservists, e.g. B. the Swiss Army .

Reservists are also represented in strategically and operationally deployed formations, i.e. the field army . Here they primarily serve as a replacement for personnel and thus make a decisive contribution to staying power in combat or in deployed units. Pure reserve associations with an operational mandate are rare, but can be found in isolated cases.

Recently, another role of reservists in modern armed forces has emerged more and more: contributing important knowledge and skills (acquired in civil life) to the regular armed forces. The task and function of the individual reservist in the armed forces is closely based on his civilian training and his civilian profession. In this way, many armed forces are taking account of the general trend in society towards greater professionalism and an increased focus on education and training.

In a broader sense, stocks of raw materials and goods are also counted among the national reserves, which are intended to alleviate the dependence on imports during war.

Prussia / German Empire

In Prussia , the first military reserve was formed after 1807 to circumvent the army restrictions after the peace of Tilsit . At the same time, conscription was introduced. The Krümpersystem of General Scharnhorst saw the short military service of recruits before (Krümpern), which could be called in case of war.

The modern reserve system only developed from the Prussian army form with the army enlargement under War Minister Albrecht von Roon from the beginning of the 1860s. The considerably stronger enforcement of conscription in the later German Empire compared to the first half of the century was ultimately due to this.

Retiring soldiers received an order with precise instructions in the event of war. They were called up for regular military exercises. During the First World War , after the mobilization , the active armed forces were reinforced by millions of reservists, land soldiers , reserve reservists , land stormers and volunteers . A total of over 13 million men served in the army and navy.

As a result of the Versailles Treaty , the Reichswehr was organized as a professional army and had neither conscripts nor reservists. With the reintroduction of compulsory military service in the Third Reich , reserve potential was built up again from 1935. A total of around 18 million soldiers served in World War II . Reservists formed the backbone of the Wehrmacht . However, the proportion of white cohorts with only a short training was very high, since before the war only the four cohorts born 1915–1918 were called up for 1 or 2-year military service.

armed forces

In Germany, according to Section 1 of the Reservists Act, reservists are all former soldiers in the Bundeswehr who have not lost their rank , as well as persons who can be called upon to perform military service under the fourth section of the Soldiers Act on the basis of an obligation entered into with the federal government .


According to Article 79 of the B-VG, the armed forces are to be set up according to a militia system, according to which they only meet for exercises and with fewer men in peacetime. The conscripts belong to the presence stand, the militia stand or the reserve stand for the duration of their military service.

All conscripts who do not belong to the presence or the militia are by definition reservists . Outside of the armed forces, they can only use their rank with the addition “dRes” (“the reserve status”). Under the conditions of Section 35 of the Defense Act, you are entitled to wear the uniform even when you are not in practice or when you are on duty. In times of peace, reservists are not directly assigned to an emergency organization, but can be called upon in addition or as a substitute in special situations. In the case of a deployment of the armed forces according to § 2 para. 1 lit. a to c of the Defense Act ( national military defense , assistance deployment) - depending on the needs and suitability for use in the operational organization - are transferred to the militia, which, for example, gives them a planned, predefined function in the operational organization.

Of the more than 1,000,000 trained conscripts between the ages of 18 and 50 (or 65), around 935,000 are in reserve.


The Swiss Army is based on the militia system . The manpower was reduced from 400,000 ( Army 95 ) to around 200,000 members of the Army. Of these, 120,000 are divided into active units and 80,000 into reserve units.

The 120,000 active participants complete three (for soldiers ) or four (for cadres ) weeks of refresher courses (FDT, training service for the troops) every year . As a rule, the reserve units do not offer any repetition courses, but if the security situation changes, they can be obliged to do so by a Federal Council resolution.

However, some of the equipment in these reserve units only exists on paper. Although the Swiss Army has a large number of modern and functional material, such as Pz 87 Leopard 2 battle tanks, due to the halving of its inventory, reserve units are only delayed or not equipped at all when new acquisitions are made. Due to the budget constraints, these reserve units are therefore only partially ready for use.


After the suspension of compulsory military service, the French armed forces consist of full-time professional soldiers . The country currently has only 21,650 reservists who are also deployed in homeland security and disaster control. In addition, national reservists can also be called up at the gendarmerie .

Great Britain

The British Army consists of two components:

In 2020 the British Army is expected to have 120,000 soldiers, 35,000 of them reservists.

United States

The reserve of the Armed Forces of the United States ( English reserve components of the United States Armed Forces ) includes all military organizations and personnel in the United States, to which the federal government as required to complement their professional armed forces can rely. Essentially, it consists of three components, individual reservists who are directly assigned to active units of the armed forces and federal authorities as a supplement ( English Individual Mobilization Augmentees ), the reserve units of the armed forces ( English reserves ), which are directly subordinate to the Ministry of Defense , and the troops subordinate to the federal states National Guard , which can be subordinated to the Ministry of Defense ( English mobilized for federal active duty ). This system goes back to the historical development in which the federal states were granted the right to own militias in the constitution , on the other hand the need to centrally coordinate the development of the armed forces of the federal government in the event of war and to prepare this in peacetime. The reserves in the USA today, like the active soldiers, basically consist of volunteers.

Strength of the reserve components of the armed forces:

Reservist component Workforce
Armed Forces Reserve
Seal of the United States Army Reserve, svg United States Army Reserve 190,000
Air Force Reserve Command.png United States Air Force Reserve Command 70,000
Seal of the United States Navy Reserve, svg United States Navy Reserve 60,000
Marine Forces Reserve insignia (transparent background) .png United States Marine Corps Reserve 38,000
Seal of the United States Coast Guard Reserve.png United States Coast Guard Reserve 6,200
Seal of the United States National Guard, svg National Guard
Seal of the United States Army National Guard, svg Army National Guard 333,000
US-AirNationalGuard-2007Emblem.svg Air National Guard 107,000
total 802,000

A general reserve status as in Germany with the general reserve of former soldiers or substitute reserve of unserved conscripts does not exist in the United States. A former soldier or reservist who is not available for mobilization is not a reservist.

Other states

In a large number of other countries there are reserve units in order to raise one's own military for national defense . The People's Republic of China , India (1,155,000) and Russia (1,500,000) have a large number of reservists. In Northern Europe partially own, usually consist militia-like organized reserve units, often called the Home Guard or National Guard are called.

Country Name of the reserve
Denmark Hjemmeværnet
Estonia Kaitseliit
Latvia Zemessardze
Norway Home internet
Sweden Hemvärnet
Ukraine National Guard

Material reserves

Personnel reserves


Web links

Wiktionary: Reserve  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. Central Directive A2-1300 / 0-0-2 - The reserve. (PDF) In: . SKA KompZResAngelBw, September 7, 2018, p. 9 , accessed on December 22, 2018 .
  2. Jan Heitmann: Reaction to Tilsit 1807. To circumvent army restrictions, the reserve was invented . Preussische Allgemeine Zeitung, November 28, 2009
  3. Conception of the Bundeswehr Reserve , Appendix. 1, list of definitions, term reservists
  4. ^ Military International - France
  5. Harvey M. Sapolsky, Eugene Gholz, Caitlin Talmadge: US Defense Politics: The Origins of Security Policy . 1st edition. Routledge, New York 2008, ISBN 978-0-415-77265-5 , pp. 31 (English).
  6. Management of Individual Mobilization Augmentees (IMAs). (pdf) Instruction Number 1235.11. In: Department of Defense, July 10, 2015, accessed June 24, 2020 .
  7. Harvey M. Sapolsky, Eugene Gholz, Caitlin Talmadge: US Defense Politics: The Origins of Security Policy . 1st edition. Routledge, New York 2008, ISBN 978-0-415-77265-5 , pp. 27 (English).
  8. Selected Reserve Personnel by Reserve Component and Rank / Grade (Updated Monthly). In: Defense Manpower Data Center, April 2020, accessed June 23, 2020 .