Army and Marines continue to use the IRR (Individual Ready Reserve) to obtain
key support positions for units headed to a combat zone. Currently the marines
are trying to find 1,500 qualified IRR marines for support jobs in
intelligence, maintenance, communications and military police. These marines
would return to active service early next year.
Most people in the IRR are
there for four years, to finish out the eight year obligation incurred when
they enlisted (usually for four years of active duty.) The IRR has existed for
nearly half a century, and had never really been used until this century. The
current situation appears to be exactly what the IRR was designed for, and the
army and marines are using it a lot. In theory, the army and marines could make
everyone who enlisted, serve eight years (instead of the usual 3-6 years.) This
is unlikely, as there are limits on how many reservists the president can call
up without a formal declaration of war. Moreover, not all of the 50,000 or so
troops discharged each year have skills that the army needs to fill emergency
needs. One thing is for certain, troops, including those recently discharged,
are now much more aware of what the IRR is.
Many of those who get an IRR
call-up notice are not able to go. They have health or other personal
situations that make them unable to deploy. Earlier this year, 1,800 recently
discharged marines received call up notices. But only about 47 percent are
actually going. This is not just a problem with reservists. The army recently
called 1,105 former recruiters back to recruiting duty. This was part of an
effort to make sure the army stays on track to makes its recruiting numbers for
the fiscal year (which ends at the end of the month). Only about half of those
recruiters made it. The rest were unavailable for a number of reasons. A few
females were pregnant (of the high risk variety), most of the recalled NCOs
were either in higher priority jobs (senior NCO in a unit headed overseas,
casualty assistance officer or any number of critical jobs). Some were on
leave, and the army was unwilling to pay for un-reimbursable vacation expenses.
Some were ill, or even hospitalized. Some were in the middle of critical army
training programs, and some were in a combat zone already. The phrase, "drop
everything" can rarely be applied literally.