Robert Peck's sharp criticism of U.S. reserve forces {"Few Are Called, Fewer Will Fight," Outlook, Dec. 2} misrepresents the mission of the reserve force structure. His critique of the "Total Concept" is based on the high percentage of support personnel and low percentage of combat personnel that have been called up for Operation Desert Shield.

As a petty officer in the Naval Reserve, I know Mr. Peck overlooked the fact that most reserve forces are made up of support units that are as critical to Operation Desert Shield as combat forces. Ignored is the fact that the Army Reserve is made up almost solely of combat support personnel. There are almost no combat forces in the Army Reserve on purpose. The Army Reserve is designed as a true reserve force should be, concentrating on functions essential in wartime but not needed during peacetime. Where would Operation Desert Shield be without the call up of reserves who performed such tasks as transportation, supply, water purification and medical duties?

There may in fact be a political unwillingness to call up larger numbers of support and combat reserve personnel, but this in no way reflects on the ability or contributions of reserve personnel called up already or in the future. Reserve personnel have provided crucial support to Operation Desert Shield, and it is doubtful if the deployment would have been successful without them. The Total Force concept has proven its value.

CHRISTOPHER P. BRIEM Washington