RCPalmer said:The "civilian equivalent skills" argument has been tossed around a fair bit, and while it has some merit, would require institutional change within the training system that would be no easier/less expensive than scaring up a few more radios and machine guns. The army specific components of the various army CSS trades always seem to be just different enough that you still need significant additional training:
Long Haul Truck Driver? You can drive, but now we need to teach you to drive an MSVS...
Heavy Vehicle Mechanic? Ok, that covers off your EME common training, but now we need to teach you all of these platforms...
Additionally, whether subject to compulsory service or not, CAF members are volunteers, and elect their military occupation. For most reservists, they are there for challenge, variety and adventure, not a casual second job in their core career. We have a lot of office workers in the PRes. We don't make them all RMS clerks.
You are correct, the U.S. Army Reserve is CSS focused, but composed largely of former Active Duty members completing compulsory service. In many ways, it is a mechanism to ensure a good return on the expensive training investments the Army has made in those members. Additionally, it is only about 1/3 of the U.S. Army reserve component.
The U.S. Army National Guard is the larger element, is combat arms focused, and is more of a mixed bag of former Active Duty and purely part time soldiers . As you have noted, there is considerable debate in the U.S. forces with regards to getting the right full-time/part time mix. All components make their arguments (indirectly) at the political level, and state governments back the guard. This is done largely through the argument that the inflow of forces into a major theater of operations permits significant work-up training windows, making a large standing army less important.
My anecdotal exposures to these organizations has been that guard troops and units are more disciplined and effective than their USAR counterparts. I would argue that this is due in no small part to the citizen soldier component.
You are right that some relatively minor trade training would be required to take a long haul driver and teach him to drive a MSVS, but the skill sets of that person are going to be overall better, and training time reduced, than bringing a 18 year old off the street and training him to drive a MSVS, get experience, etc etc etc. Same for Mechanics, Finance people, supply, cooks, etc. As a bonus, you are recruiting people who have an interest in those trades (as they do it in civie world) that can be sold on the "army/military" aspects of those jobs (CPs, DPs, ranges, etc). And with a direct role for standing forces they would directly impact operations on the grand scale which helps with job satisfaction. As Colin P and Chris Pook noted, and I agree with, people who join the reserves aren't generally doing it for money, but rather for experiences or a real desire to serve. This can be achieved just as easily in a CSS capacity as it can in an infantry role (perhaps more so... the long haul trucker who is a reserve Sgt gains skills he can apply directly to his civilian job and gets to talk about ranges, exercises, etc with other truckers as opposed to an artillery reservist who shows up, gets lectures on MAPS or some other thing since there's no equipment to train with, sits in the mess, and then goes home).
The National Guard/Reserves/Regular force in the US is a completely different bag from us due to their history. The National Guard is a left over of the militia system that the states maintained whereas the reserves were created to DIRECTLY augment regular forces and provide capabilities. Our reserve is also a hold over of our militia system, but was never controlled at provincial level, so has completely different emotional baggage. The fact that the Regular forces in the US cannot deploy domestically creates a different element as well. That's why their reserves are a much better comparison for us than the National Guard as the reserves were created to tie governments to the people and LIMIT foreign involvement in wars (since reserves would need to be called up to support). With our reserve having no ability to be called into service it effectively became a 1 for 1 augmentation of regular forces.
It's true that the reserve use a lot of former regular force personnel, but that could be said more many of the reserve units here too (not including the many retiring members who move directly into the Public Service doing the same job they were as a regular force member) so I don't think the difference is as big as you make it to be.