Monday, August 13, 2007

Three Buckets of IRR Draftees

Bucket 1: The guys who don't show up when they're called
Bucket 2: The guys who show up, and are gung ho about it
Bucket 3: The guys who might not want to show up, but do

In light of my Aunt Terry's recent post--which was extraordinarily thoughtful, thank you for the feedback--I think that it's worth taking a step back to reexamine what the "IRR" is all about.

IRR stands for Individual Ready Reserve. Soldiers (and marines and sailors and airmen) can join the IRR when their active service obligation is complete, but they still have time left on their overall commitment to the military.

While on IRR status, soldiers are eligible to be called back into active service. Otherwise, the soldiers are left alone to lead their civilian lives.

In the last 3 years the Army has called about 10,000 IRR soldiers to active duty. The Army has not released any statistics (that I'm aware of, at least) regarding how many soldiers who were called actually reported for duty. Most folks estimate the number at about 40-50%. Anecdotally, in my class of draftees down at Fort Jackson there were 25 of us. More than 50 were supposed to report that day. The folks who trained us down at Jackson suggested that this was typical, and most of those folks have been at Jackson for the entire 3 years of the call ups. Take all that for what it's worth.

So, the first thing every one needs to know about me and my friends here at Forts Jackson and Bragg is that we all showed up. It also bears mentioning that of the 25 of us, all but two of us (me and one other person) had previously deployed to Iraq and/or Afghanistan.

What happens to the 50-60% who are no shows? Well, not that much, really. Currently, the best anecdotal information out there suggests that the Army is either forgetting about folks, or processing them for Other Than Honorable (OTH) discharges. An OTH is what it sounds like--worse than an honorable, but better than a dishonorable. The rub is that many civilian jobs, and all federal/state jobs, require you to disclose any discharges from the military for other than honorable reasons. For some people, an OTH will really limit them. For some people it won't.

There are, as you'd imagine, a handful of dudes who get called up and are really happy about it. There are some folks who volunteered to return to service, and some who volunteered to leave their cushy Navy job (for example) to deploy with the Army.

But in my experience, most of the IRR folks who did bother to show up are somewhere in Bucket 3. We all question why we came. We all have days when we're feeling pretty down about our situation. But we also have days when we think things aren't so bad. Is this really so different than anyone else at any other job?

And ultimately, for better or for worse, our defining and linking characteristic is that we showed up. We didn't have to report--not really at least. But each of us, for our own reasons, decided to heed the call. Again, take that for what it's worth...which might not be much at all. But hey, it's all we've got.

It's very difficult to describe, actually...the experience of being drafted from the IRR list back into service is a very different one than any of us have gone through to date in our respective military careers. Very different from signing up initially (at 17, in my case--mom and dad had to sign a waiver!) Very different than anything encountered while on active duty.

At Army 2.0 I try to capture this experience for a couple of different reasons.

First, the blog helps my fellow IRR callups and I deal with our situation. My comrades at Jackson/Bragg have really embraced this outlet, and encouraged me to continue committing our experiences to the blog.

Second, I'm telling a story that I would have loved to have heard myself a few months ago. I hope that this blog will help future IRR callups know what they're getting themselves into.


Robin said...

From what you wrote, my understanding is that IRR is voluntary. Why do people sign up for this? Are there benefits? You state that you must have more time left on your military commitment, but does commitment mean office duty vs. field duty?

I really don't understand why they would sign up for IRR at all unless there is something in it for them. And if they signed up, and don't show, are they reaping the rewards without complying with the contract that was voluntary signed?

Hopefully, you can enlighten me. Thanks.


sneeziesue said...

The IRR is voluntary. When you enlist in the Army (for eg.) for 4 years. You are enlisting for 4 years of active duty which may be field or office depending on your MOS (job.) In addition, however, the government is allowed to recall you for another 2 years of service (or half of your active duty enlistment time)after you have fulfilled your obligation and been discharged. This is called the IRR You cannot enlist in any military branch without this in the fine print. There is no way to give active duty and not have IRR following your discharge. This has always been the case since as far back in history as I can remember. However, this is the first time in the history of the United States where the IRR has been used to call soldiers back into service! It has always been a fallback solution to a sudden attack on our homeland. It was not intended to, nor was it written as, support of an on-going military operation. I hope that explains it well.

I worry about my son being called back up. He has already done his time and served in the infantry in Iraq and Korea. I have stage 4 terminal cancer and believe it or not, the gov't isn't offering hardship deferments these days. They will, however, let him come home for my funeral. Should mine be before his, that is.

usa said...

NO, the IRR is NOT voluntary, and what benefits are speaking of, if you're called up and don't report, then you are AWOL, and a warrent for you arrest will be made, funny I never considered getting arrested a "benefit".
By the way, I'm an ex-infantry combat vet. who served more time then my contract stated, but hey dick cheney made like 3 million dollars last year, i'm glad I could help the old guy out, cause now that I'm currently un-employed,and in debt, it makes me feel good to help millionaires become billionaires, with the blood of my brothers in arms and I. and if you feel bad about "stoploss/IRR recalls" then either put a yellow ribbon on your car,or spit in the face of a soldier who just laid his life on the line for you, and your loved ones. Cause that's all you greedy, sellfish civilians do, but be sure to NOT do anything proactive or be of any use to anyone but yoursef, cause THAT is the new american way. take all you can, and screw as many people you can on your way, in conclusion, being a citizen of "The United States Of America" does NOT make you an American, no matter how many redneck bumperstickers say otherwise, either contribute something positve to our great nation,(just paying your taxes and voting doesn't cut it). or pack up your crap and move to the other greates nation on Earth, ow-wait!there's only one greatest nation on Earth and you're in it.../LOVE IT OR LEAVE IT!, there's no room for inbetween, its's simply, LOVE IT OR LEAVE IT!

and just for the record, this war(iraq)is destroying our country,and since the global markits rely heavily on the US marketplace, it's destroying our whole damn planet!, read the news! food shortages/riots/civil wars/etc. are all happening at an alrming rate, and it can all be led back to our(US) involvment in iraq.

(afghanistan is NOT iraq, we can still win that one, it's not that we can't win in iraq, it's more like lesser degrees of failure.)

jonnyboy2167 said...

I wonder if user Usa realizes, that the way this country works is 'freedom'. You make a CHOICE to fight for the rights of people who might not agree. Agree to Disagree, disagree to agree.

Long story short, voting and paying your taxes *should* support this country sufficiently, but in most presidential elections the popular vote hardly impacts anything, and the politicians that do get in, blow the taxes on things we don't really need *cough* using ALL of our surplus money which we hadn't seen in decades for tax breaks *cough*

Even more aside, you agree this War is tearing the country and world apart, although people still miss the obvious.

The purpose of this war, is to prevent terrorist actions. You cannot technically have a "War on Terror" because to officially have war, you have to have someone to declare war against, ie Terrorists aren't simply a group, as I'll explain.

We are 'allowed' to enter the Middle East, ONLY because we had documentation stating there were weapons of mass destruction, which were latered revealed by Bush Admin. to be false documents.

Bam. At this point, the UN policies require us to withdraw, and we never did. THAT makes the war ILLEGAL at this point.

Ignoring that point even, FOUR individuals attacked the US, a list of suspects were created, only a handful were 'believed' to be in Al Queda, however the same Al Queda suspects were found to be alive in various news headings, meaning AL QUEDA DIDN'T ATTACK US.

Having said that, we're STILL in Iraq, illegal, and going after an organization because 'they attacked us, but without attacking us'. At this point, we are INVADING a country.

We then push from Afghanistan, to Iraq because of Hussein, who since Desert Shield/Storm, had the weapons that Bush Senior supplied. Also years of constant investigations for WMD's turned of negative, but we still went after him as a direct target, despite the fact he didn't commit terrorists actions.

If you're still following, it gets good.

So now we down the leader of one of the biggest oil producing countries, despite being in a clearly illegal war (with no later justification to it), which peaks the interest of various Americans, "hey we're in this for oil"

Bush Admin says no, we're not there for oil. BAM we NOW have a KNOWN oil crisis? That means they KNEW we NEEDED OIL.

This ties into the IRR, don't worry.

So we're fighting an illegal war, which isn't even opinion, because UN policies cleary outline this as illegal, 'not for oil' but we have a known oil crisis, and guess what?

And Iraqi Freedom went from a 'liberation' mission to a 'rebuilding' mission anyways. Our 'war' isn't about freeing others, it's supposed to be about taking down terrorists with Weapons of Mass Destruction. Notice how North Korea is untouched? yeah they HAVE nukes, that's why.

Long story short..

A terrorist, is one who engages in conflict without cause or merit.

Would you really want to go BACK to the same country that is commiting terrorists actions, AND screwing most of it's members over?

"Hurry up and wait."

You contradicted yourself, by telling people in one statement that they aren't Americans because they are citizens (btw, the definition of an American is one who is born in, or a citizen of America), and THEN explaining how a lot of problems are a result of being in the war.

Your statement is trying to encourage and discourage IRR members at the same time!

Sheena Jade said...

The Inactive Ready Reserve is NOT voluntary if you have a remaining service obligation. It's usually 8 of service in total:

"Every person who joins the Army incurs a statutory Military Service Obligation. Most incur an 8 year Military Service Obligation which is part of the Soldier's original contract. Soldiers typically serve two to four years on active duty, then are transferred to the Reserve to fulfill the remainder of their obligation." Source: HRC website (

For example: I served 3 years active duty, with an 8 year total commitment; therefore I have 5 years in the IRR.

I was told it would be extremely unlikely that I would be called back from the IRR, but possible. I pretty much knew at the IRR muster what the future had in store for me.

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