What is the Navy Reserve?

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  • Written By: R. Anacan
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 14 November 2019
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The Navy Reserve is a component of a nation’s naval Armed Forces. Members of the Navy Reserve are often considered to and referred to as “citizen sailors” as they generally serve on a part-time basis in the military while retaining full-time jobs in civilian life. Members of the reserve are an integral part of a nation’s Armed Forces and often comprise a large percentage of a nation’s military personnel.

The idea of having reserve forces to augment a nation’s regular Armed Forces is not a new one. For many nations it is simply not practical to have a large standing Army, Navy and Air Force. The ability to serve part-time in the reserves, while also being able to maintain civilian life, also encourages and enables individuals to serve in the armed forces that may ordinarily not be able to serve in the military on a full-time basis. While the actual requirements may differ among nations with a Navy Reserve, many reservists are required to serve anywhere from one to two days a month and approximately two or more additional weeks per year.


Navy Reserve personnel undergo the same training as active duty members and are generally afforded the same benefits, privileges and advancement opportunities as active duty personnel. While serving, there is typically no significant differentiation made between Naval Reservists and those on active duty. In fact, Navy Reservists are often called upon to serve as active-duty reservists during times of war, national emergency, or when needed. Contrary to popular belief, Navy Reservists are not limited to serving only on ships as many reservists are able to serve in stations that are not located next to a body of water.

The career of most Navy Reservists begins with what is commonly referred to as basic training, the process of assimilating and training civilians to be sailors. It is a rigorous, challenging and demanding training program designed to prepare recruits for the rigors of military service. Basic training commonly lasts for a period of between eight to twelve weeks, depending on the nation and the specific branch of service. Once basic training is completed, additional training in an area of specialty is generally required.

In many nations, members of the Navy Reserve are required to serve for a minimum term, or commitment. As an example, in the United States Navy Reserve the minimum commitment period ranges from two to four years for individuals with prior military service to eight years for those with no previous military experience. In comparison, the British Royal Navy Reserve requires Rating, or non-officer members, to serve for a minimum commitment of five years. Those interested in more information about serving in the Naval Reserve should contact a Navy Reserve recruiter.


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