Reserve Affairs

The Office of the Assistant Secretary Defense

Military Reserve Exchange Program Background




The primary purpose of the Department of Defense Reserve Officers Foreign Exchange Program is to provide National Guard and Reserve officers training associated with mobilization duties while enhancing their ability to work and communicate with the military individuals of the host nation.  This program provides the opportunity for Reserve officers to complete annual training pertinent to their mobilization assignment while they gain an understanding of the training, doctrine and operations of a major alliance partner.  DoD Directive 1215.15 provides authority for the program.

The Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense (Reserve Affairs) initiated the Reserve Officer exchange with a memorandum of understanding negotiated between the German Ministry of Defense (1985), and with the UK Ministry of Defense (1989).  The first German exchange, in 1985, involved seven officers from each nation.  This number increased to fifteen in 1986 and has stabilized at approximately twenty per year since 1987.  However, there are no limitations in the DoD directive to the size of the exchanges.  An exchange may be developed with any country allied to the United States.

The Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense (Reserve Affairs) establishes policy and oversight for the program and interfaces with the participating nations’ defense ministries.  The Reserve components are each responsible for administration of the program for their Reservists.  The Reserve components select highly qualified officers for participation in the program.  Each Reserve component identifies a host Reserve unit where a visiting Reserve officer will find substantial, high-quality training opportunities related to their military specialties. 

Costs for participating in the program are generally limited to additional expenses related to traveling OCONUS.  The Reserve components may use funds normally allocated for annual training to pay an individual’s salary.  Shared costs for the program depend upon the terms of the Memorandum of Understanding established between the respective nations.

Reserve officers who participate in the exchange program receive valuable training, which they are able to share with their home units.  They gain an appreciation of allied Reserve forces, which facilitates an effective working relationship with those forces upon mobilization. 

As our forces withdraw from their forward presence missions, the opportunities to establish personal and professional relationships between the Reserves of the respective nations is significantly reduced.  Programs like this maintain the health of our military relationships and enhance our understanding of each other’s Reserve components and the alliances we collectively serve.