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CHIPS Articles: DoD should maximize its use of the Reserves to support cyber initiatives

DoD should maximize its use of the Reserves to support cyber initiatives
By Daniel Rodríguez-Ramírez - January-March 2020
When we look at the Reserves component, the first thing that may come to mind is the term — "military part-timers." This term does not accurately describe the real value the Reserves bring to the nation. Reserve forces served as far back as the time of the Roman Legions.

A modern critical turning point for the role of the Reserves and their support to the active duty component came during the period leading up to World War II. As war became inevitable, there was a tremendous influx of civilian professionals that rushed to join the military services. Reserve force numbers increased significantly, and by the Pearl Harbor attack, the Reserves had equal to, or more than, the size of active duty forces — and their participation in the war was pivotal. By the time the United States and its allies won the war, Reserve numbers were again higher than active duty personnel.

Two key Reserve members serving in WWII demonstrate how Reserve forces helped to shape the course of our history in ways that still resonate today. These two individuals are William J. Donovan and Grace Hopper.

William J Donovan

A prominent lawyer, William Donovan, served as a Soldier in World War I, as well as World War II. In addition, Donovan served as an intelligence officer, diplomat, recruiter, and creator of the Office of Strategic Services (OSS), which transitioned to become the Central Intelligence Agency — primarily by his efforts, according to the CIA.

During his Army Reserve time, Donovan achieved the rank of major general. He received the nation's highest awards to include the Medal of Honor, the Distinguished Service Cross, the Distinguished Service Medal, and the National Security Medal.

Grace Hopper

Rear Admiral Hopper was one of many individuals who answered when the U.S. called for support in WWII. Initially, the Navy rejected Admiral Hopper's attempt to enlist because she was 34 years-old and 15 pounds under the Navy minimum weight requirement of 120. In addition, her job, as a math professor, was deemed necessary to support war efforts. She, however, managed to commission in the Navy Reserve. It was in the Navy (and industry) where Hopper’s work led to dramatic information technology changes.

Her accomplishments include co-developing the first general large scale computer for business applications (UNIVAC), co-writing the data processing code Common Business Oriented Language (COBOL), and pioneering the creation of standards for testing systems and components in Department of Defense networks. The Navy decorated Rear Adm. Hopper with many of the highest military medals an individual can achieve — Defense Distinguished Service Medal, Legion of Merit and many others.

Then Sept. 16, 1991, President George Bush awarded retired Rear Adm. Grace M. Hopper the National Medal of Technology “for her pioneering accomplishments in the development of computer programming languages that simplified computer technology and opened the door to a significantly larger universe of users.”

She was the first woman to receive America's highest technology award as an individual.

Reserves Component as a National Security Strategic Nexus

Having the advantage to operate under Title 10 and the ability to be part of the Intelligence Community enables the Reserves to have opportunities to train and execute missions with other cyber-related agencies. When President Ronald Reagan enacted Executive Order (E.O.) 12333, he envisioned unity of effort among departments and agencies. DoD Directive 5240 1-R, Procedure 12 gave even more leverage for the military to cooperate and work with law enforcement agencies as well as other nations. This authority needs to be significantly utilized to maximize the benefits that can be derived from including more personnel from the Reserve force with intelligence and cybersecurity credentials.

In the article, "Pentagon faces an array of challenges in retaining cybersecurity personnel," by Arthur MacDougall and Michael Myers, the authors allude to the current challenge the DoD has recruiting and retaining trained and experienced cybersecurity professionals. The Reserves have the potential to support the cyber mission(s), or any task for that matter, based on their military training, civilian employment, and education. They can provide experience in hard-to-fill military positions or in cases where more personnel are required for a particular mission.


The argument of the differences in capabilities and abilities between the Active Duty forces versus the Reserve component is an old debate that has run its course. The fact that Reserves only show up to drill one weekend a month, two weeks for annual training, and an occasional deployment belies its value as a force multiplier.

The Reserve component is vital to our nation's security, whether in enabling economic prosperity or military lethality. These professionals are devoted patriots who are performing a selfless act by giving their time and efforts in defense of the homeland.

The Reserve component is a pool of talent that, if rightfully leveraged, could bring efficiencies and effectiveness to the DoD and other agencies.

Let’s use them where they will do the most good.

Daniel Rodríguez-Ramírez is an IT Specialist at the Norfolk Naval Shipyard and a Reservist. He has a Certificate of Achievement in Lean Six Sigma from Villanova University, is Microsoft Certified (MCITP), and is a Certified Cyber Intelligence Professional and Navy Qualified Validator II. He holds a BBA in Finance and is writing a thesis for his Master of Science in Technology of Intelligence (MSTI) from the National Intelligence University and is pursuing a Master of Science in Law from Northwestern University Pritzker School of Law. He is also a graduate of the Joint Special Operations University as well as from the Joint Forces Staff College.

The views expressed here are solely those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect those of the Department of the Navy, Department of Defense or the United States government.


Lieutenant Colonel Anderson, Gary. "Toward a Pax Universalis," Naval War College Newport, Rhode Island. Center for Naval Warfare Studies, Newport Paper #2, pg. 4-5. April 1992.

CIA: Gen. William J. Donovan Heads Office of Strategic Services.

Cantrell, Mark. "Amazing Grace: Rear Adm. Grace Hopper, USN, was a pioneer in computer science." March 2014, Military Officer. Military Officers Association of America.

U.S. Congress. House of Representatives, 10 USC Subtitle E: Reserve Components. August 10, 1956,ch.1041,§1,70A Stat.1.

Editor’s Note: The CHIPS website hosts a module dedicated to Rear Adm. Grace Hopper with articles featuring her accomplishments during her years in the Navy, academia and in industry. Visit “About Grace Hopper” here.

CIA photo of Army General William “Wild Bill” Donovan
Lt. j.g. Grace Brewster Hopper working at the Bureau of Ordnance Computation Project, Harvard University, Cambridge, Mass., January 1946. Photo courtesy of the Defense Visual Information Center.
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