IRR Call-Up?

Interesting news that I haven’t seen elsewhere:

Army Times: Army screens 118,000 inactive reservists for possible call-up

The Army has begun screening members of the Individual Ready Reserve to determine who would be available to be called to active duty if needed, a spokesman said Wednesday.

The soldiers are not formally attached to any specific reserve unit but would be assigned to an active or reserve unit if needed.

None of the 118,000 IRR soldiers has been called up involuntarily so far, said Lt. Col. Burt Masters, a spokesman for the Army̢۪s Human Resources Command in St. Louis. Some IRR members could be called up once the screening is finished, he said.

IRR soldiers typically have left active duty or active reserve service, but still have time left on their obligation to serve. They agree to keep themselves ready to be called up in an emergency but are not required to do the periodic training that other reservists must perform.

While the Army does such screening periodically, the current Army-wide screening is a result of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, Masters said.

“It’s a big pool of manpower to get up to date with,” he said.

Good luck doing it, too. IRR members, formerly including myself, are notoriously unmotivated to update their records. There is powerfully little incentive to wrestle with the bureaucracy involved when one is no longer receiving a paycheck from the military. Plus, the ineptitude of the system is simply frightening. I routinely received letters inviting me to join company level units, commanded by a Captain, even though I was myself a Captain. My records were remarkably screwed up, somehow thinking I had spent several years of Reserve enlisted time even though I was only an enlisted Reservists for a few months before going into ROTC and then four years of commissioned Active service.

This also touches on a rather bizarre and certainly unadvertised aspect of the All-Volunteer Force: Once you sign up, you’re obligated for eight years. So, while no one has any obligation whatsoever to be in the military, those who choose to serve are on the hook for nearly a decade. It’s perfectly rational–it makes sense to be able to utilize the training of those soldiers if necessary–but there is a bit of inequity in such a system.

FILED UNDER: Military Affairs
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is a Security Studies professor at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. dale says:

    “Once you sign up, you’re obligated for eight years.”

    I thought the obligation was 6 years. That’s what it was when I was in the Navy in the 70’s. Has the law changed since then?

    I was enlisted. Perhaps that makes a difference.


  2. Boyd says:

    Yup, the OBLISERV changed since we enlisted, Dale. I don’t recall when it happened, but it was sometime before I retired in ’94.

  3. Rich Gardner says:

    The Navy IRR records must be equally horrible, judging by the letter I got from the local (Wash DC) Naval Reserve Recruiting Command a couple of weeks ago addressed to “Dear Ready Reservist,” which then went into a recruiting speal for joining the Selective Reserves, including a survey to assess my knowledge of benefits I would then receive (“Are you aware there are Naval Reserve Centers located in every state?”).

    Slight problem here. I am on the “Retired List,” and hold a grey ID card. 20 years active duty. I can always be recalled, but not as a “Ready Reservist.”

    I tried calling the number provided to ask WTF, and I got a recording stating that the POC (LT) listed was no longer at this job/number, and gave a new POC/number (E-6) for questions about the survey. Calling the new POC at 3PM on a Friday, I got an answering machine.

    Rather than play phone tag, I faxed the survey back with my name filled out, the word RETIRED placed in applicable locations, NA next to their Reserve questions, and in the comment section asked why they sent it to me, and that something was wrong with their mailing list (which they probably already knew). Can you imagine every retiree in the past couple of years getting this letter? (Probably including retired flag officers.) I’m sure their phones were going crazy.

  4. Boyd says:

    I guess I dodged that bullet then, Rich. Although I wonder if my impending transfer from the Fleet Reserve to the Retired List might have been a factor.

  5. Heath says:

    They are utilizing the IRR in three phases.
    Phase I 1-17 May IRR soldiers are asked to join a drilling unit
    Phase II 17May-1June Soldiers are involintarily transfered to Units
    Phase III 1 Jun-TBD Non Obligars (Veterans + Retired Soldiers/under 60)are assigned to units

    Weird things in the works……Next step…….Wake the Giant! THE DRAFT
    (which I believe is great).


  6. Christine says:

    I’m a member of the IRR right now. My obligation is up May 22, 2004. A reserve recruiter called me up and said I was on the list for the Call-up. He says to extend for 6 month in the Reserves to prevent myself from being involuntarily placed somewhere else. What do you think my chances are of being put back in before my ETS is up?

  7. Jason says:

    They are utilizing the IRR in three phases.
    Phase I 1-17 May IRR soldiers are asked to join a drilling unit
    Phase II 17May-1June Soldiers are involintarily transfered to Units
    Phase III 1 Jun-TBD Non Obligars (Veterans + Retired Soldiers/under 60)are assigned to units

    Weird things in the works……Next step…….Wake the Giant! THE DRAFT
    (which I believe is great).


    Posted by: Heath at May 14, 2004 20:16

    **Where did you get this information Heath?** I am IRR soldier. I have heard that if you are assigned a unit by the Army, then they will make you into whatever MOS they want, is that true? I have a specialized MOS (96R20) and the closest unit that has the MOS is at Fort Drum, NY. I live in Northern Virginia. I ran across this site while doing a search for IRR. Please e-mail with any information. Thanks.

  8. Aaron says:

    Part of your information is correct. However, I got a phone call on Thur. May 13. I was told that around 30,000 IRRs are being recalled and placed in reserve units. I was also informed that it is INVOLUNTARY. I am one of the IRRs being recalled and I have to report within 90 days.

  9. Al says:

    I am an O-4 currently living in san diego. I have been in the IRR for several years, since there are no units or slots for me down here in the USAR.

    A couple of months ago I got several phone calls and emails basically stating that I had better join a TPU or take the consequences. I was told that the IRR will ensentialy cease to exist by this fall. and that IRR types will either be transfered to TPU’s, called to AD or drummed out.

    The recruiter was frustrated that she could not find a TPU for me within a 100+ miles and was trying to put me into an MP unit. I told her good luck since my commission is with AMEDD, MSC and didn’t relate well to MPs. She said she would do it and I never heard another word from her.

    Obviously something is a miss … I guess it may be time to get out my uniforms and see how much they have shrunk.

    Any similiar expereinces amoung you all.


  10. Brian says:

    My girlfriend is in BCT for the Army Reserves right now. Her contract said 6 Active and 2 IRR. I hope they don’t force her to stay active after those 6 years are up. It’s bad enough we’re fighting in a place where we don’t belong and aren’t wanted, let alone that more and more of our own American troops are being sent over. My cousin’s husband is a Marine in Iraq right now and he was supposed to come home in April, but he was extended until at least October. I wish we would get the hell out of there!! This is far too political and “chess-like” to be involving human lives.

  11. Brian says:

    PS. If the draft does come about, I’m enlisting. I want my burger-flipping pay rates too! ($250 a month for Hazard pay…what a joke!)

  12. noah says:

    I was just talking to a recruiter that called me and said that they were dissolving the irr and that people in the irr would be put in a unit either active, reserve or national guard.
    Have any of you heard anything along those line from a more reliable source? He said I had in till Tuesday because that is when they would be implementing this new policy.

  13. Ronnie says:

    I am a Staff Sergeant getting out of the Army by way of ETS rather than retirement. I have heard from several sources on Ft Bragg, which is where
    I am right now, that starting May 17th the IRR will cease to exist as some people on this web site have stated. From what I have been told if you have less than 8 years of service you will be called up pending all normal medical qualifications, and if you already served your 8 years as I have, then Uncle Sam will not be contacting you. For those of you who are shy of your 8 year committment and you already ETS’d, I suggest that you join back up through a recruiter so you have a chance of getting a job you want instead of a job the IRR will pick for you. Two jobs that I hear are in need of slotting are infantry and military police. Good luck to all!

  14. R says:

    Does anyone know which army base has deployed the most reserve units to Iraq?

  15. coljak says:

    Has stop been applied to IRR

  16. coljak says:

    Has stop loss been applied to IRR

  17. Jeremy says:

    Well, I do not know which ones have deployed the most, but I work at Fort Eustis and we have deployed thousands of reservists and active duty servicemembers to Iraq since 9-11.

    My wife has also just been reactivated. She is being sent her orders as we speak and we are attempting to figure out how she can get out of it since she would be leaving behind 2 children including a 14 month old. She made a mimstake by signing her enlistment contract and now she may have to pay for it.

    And Heath, how is the Draft great? Since when is forcing someone to do something they do not want to do great?

    Anyway, if anyone knows any loopholes or ideas on how to legitematly get out of going back to active duty please let me know.

    Some of you may thing I am being unpatriotic, but I am in the military and one parent in the service is enough for our family. This is going to tear our family apart and there is no reason for her to be called back. She has children to take care and forcing her to do something she does not want to do and making her leave them, in my mind, is violating her civil rights and is the unpatriotic act.

  18. Rich says:

    I’m an O-3 IRR member. I just got a phone call from the National Guard that said prepare to go to Iraq ASAP. I have a 30% disability from the VA. Does the Army have a policy about activating or deploying disabled soldiers? I wonder why this issue hasn’t made the large news programs yet? Interesting discussion. Good luck to you all. -Rich

  19. CoreyHaim says:

    Check out AR 135-178:

    Under Chapter 6:
    Conditions of dependency or hardship.
    (1) Dependency. Dependency exists when, because of death or disability of a member of a soldier’s family, other
    members of his or her family become principally dependent on him or her for care or support to the extent that
    continued membership and service on AD, FTNGD, or ADT, would result in undue hardship.
    (2) Hardship. Hardship exists when, in circumstances not involving death or disability of a member of a soldier’s
    family, separation from the service would materially affect the care or support of the soldier’s family by materially
    alleviating undue hardship.
    (a) Parenthood. A married soldier who becomes a parent by birth, adoption, or marriage (step parent) and whose
    children under 18 years of age reside within the household, may apply for separation under hardship. The soldier must
    submit evidence per paragraph e below that the roles of parent and soldier are incompatible and that he or she cannot
    fulfill his or her military obligation on AD, FTNGD, or ADT, without neglecting the children.
    d. Application for separation. A soldier must submit a written application to be separated because of dependency or
    hardship. A request for separation will be submitted as follows:
    (1) An ARNGUS soldier, or USAR soldier assigned to a TPU or IMA duty position, must submit a written
    application to the unit commander who will immediately forward it with recommendations and soldier’s records
    through channels to the separation authority (para 1-10) for final action.
    (2) A soldier assigned to the IRR, Standby Reserve, or Retired Reserve, must submit a written application to the
    Commander, HRC St. Louis, ATTN: AHRC-PAR, 1 Reserve Way, St. Louis, MO 63132-5200. The Chief, Regional
    Personnel Actions Division, will immediately forward it with recommendations and soldier’s records through the
    Director, Personnel Actions and Services Directorate, and Director, Enlisted Personnel Management Directorate, to the
    Commander, HRC St. Louis (para 1-10b(1)) for final action.
    e. Evidence required. The evidence required for dependency or hardship separation will normally be in affidavit
    form. The evidence must substantiate dependency or hardship conditions on which the application for separation is
    (1) The evidence will include affidavits or statements submitted by or in behalf of the soldier’s dependents and by at
    least two disinterested persons or agencies having firsthand knowledge of the circumstances. If dependency or hardship
    is the result of disability of a member of the individual’s family, a physician’s certificate should be furnished showing
    specifically when such disability occurred, the nature thereof, and prognosis for recovery. There also will be furnished
    the names, ages, occupations, home addresses, and monthly incomes of other members of the applicant’s family. The
    affidavits of disinterested individuals and agencies should include reasons within their knowledge that these members
    of the family can or cannot aid in the financial or physical care of the dependents concerned for the period the soldier
    is to continue membership or is ordered to AD, FTNGD, or ADT. When the basis for the application is the death of a
    member of the soldier’s family, a death certificate or other proof of death should be furnished.
    (2) If the basis for the application is parenthood of either a sole parent or a married soldier, the supporting evidence
    will be in affidavit form and will substantiate the applicant’s claim that unexpected circumstances or circumstances
    beyond his or her control have occurred. These circumstances prevent fulfillment of military obligations without
    resultant neglect of the child. Affidavits from the soldier’s immediate commander and officer who is the job supervisor
    will be considered sufficient. Evidence in (1) above is not required for these applications; however, sole parenthood
    resulting from divorce or legal separation will be substantiated by a judicial decree or court order awarding child
    custody to the soldier.
    f. Procedures. On receipt of a written application with required supporting evidence, the separation authority will—
    (1) Consider carefully the facts on which the request is based.
    (2) Obtain any other information that may be necessary to determine the validity of the request.
    (3) Take final action to approve or disapprove the application.

  20. Kevin says:

    I recieved a call from my local recruter yesterday saying I was on the IRR call up list. My eight years was up in ’99. I rejoined in ’02 and ETSed in ’03. For some reason they still have me listed as in the IRR. Does anyone have any idea who I should contact to get this resolved? I was a member of the Missouri National Guard.

  21. If you are currently within 8 years of your original enlistment date you still have a statutory obligation. I.E. a 4 yr. enlistment into the military is actually a 4×4 enlistment. Four years AD and four years IRR. If called up, you will initially be placed into an active reserve TPU (Training Placement Unit). This is essentially a generic force pool for the services to draw upon as needed. The need is there. If you are currently in the IRR, you can do something to keep the control of your future in your own hands. Join the Army National Guard. Contact to find out how. Why wait to be called up against your will and be placed where they want you.
    SFC Dan Callahan
    Tampa, FL-ARNG

  22. Al says:

    TPU is Troup Program Unit … Usually if Uncle Sam wants one person from a TPU, he has to activate the whole unit.

    Question … What is in store for us IRR’s that Perscom can not find a unit within a 50 mile radius that has an opening with an AOC match?

    I’m sure I’m not the omly Army IRR here in San Diego in a sea of Marines and Navy Soldiers …


  23. Daphne Leach says:

    My sister and I have been IRR for 2 years now. I have one year till ETS and my sister has 10 months, and we just got the calls telling us we had to rejoin a unit. We are both stay-at-home moms now, and are devastated with the fact that we may be deployed. My MOS, 38A-Civil Affairs, is highly deployable. My children were in tears when I told them the possibility was near. I so wish I had never joined. If I didn’t have kids, I would love the army. But right now, I am sick with anxiety…..daphne

  24. nick says:

    Is this just for the army? Will the irr call up affect other services?

  25. john says:

    I heard on the news Friday night that there was a major move to call up the IRR – rather than take my chances in the general pool, I beat feet to the local NG recruiter, and I now have some level of control over my future! I recommend it to you if you do not want to end up in a position you have no control over!

  26. James says:

    How can so many people be so concerned about serving one weekend a month in a reserve unit with all that is happening around us? I understand that protecting your children and being there for them is important. We have been attacked. Nothing can justify the murder of innocent people whose only crime in the eyes of terrorists was being an American. What did the person who was confined to a wheelchair do to deserve a death sentence in the world trade center attacks? Where does it end? We can continue to take the fight to them or we can whine about going to drill one weekend a month hoping that the attacks subside. When we were attacked there were many “born again patriots” caught up in the suddenly proud to be an American moment. Those of us that have joined a service have done so voluntarily. We must remember the commitment that comes along with that and the obligation that we have to protect our families and the families of others. We are fighting a war against many countries in Iraq. It is going to take time just as other wars have. We all knew just as congress did that this war was not just about weapons of mass destruction, but a war against terrorism. I say it is better to fight on their land than on ours. I would rather put myself at risk than place my family in a dangerous environment. If you truly want to do the right thing. Your 214 states on it that you are subject to recall. Don’t fool yourself into believing that you were misinformed. We were Americans before 9/11 and I hope that most of us still believe that the American spirit is still alive in all of us. If you want options regarding the IRR call up I suggest you contact your local Army National Guard recruiter. That is where you can still serve your obligation and have more options available to you.

  27. Derek says:

    Do we really need it? Is any one thinking of the long term effects this will have on recruiting. Do you think anyone is going to join with only one enlistment option… eight years. I thought the IRR is for emergencies. Someone picked a fight and is running home to get dad because they lost. I would’t call anyone on this site unpatriotic, because everyone on this site has served and the people the government should really be going to is the fat kid at Blockbuster who will never lift a finger for the country that lets him be who he wants to be. Is this really an emergency?

  28. John says:

    I will called back to active duty last year. To this day i don’t know why. The first set of orders recalled me for the wrong MOS. The MOS wasn’t even close. 30mins on the phone with PERSCOM, they said the orders would be deleted. They were instead changed to reflect my correct MOS. Nobody knows why I was called back. I asked for a delay so I could be home to see our first born come into the world. Two months I asked for. All I was told was, “DEAL WITH IT!”
    I was sent to Iraq. When I got there, nobody knew I was coming, knew why I was sent, or even had my radar equipment for my MOS. For three months I burned (excuse my language) shitters and drove people around (with no body armor!!!). My wife gave birth to our first born while I was there. When the unit I was with heard this they sent me home (thanks guys). Well they thought they were sending me home. In route home I was deverted to Ft Drum, NY to “finish out my orders” which were for a year. So for about 8 months I sat at Ft Drum. They didn’t know why I was there or sent to them. They were over strength with my MOS. My platoon tried what they could to get me home early (great bunch of soldiers), but nothing happened. So a year of my life was wasted. My wife had to raise our new born like a single mother (didn’t sit well with me).
    Now I wasn’t too upset about being called back. I knew they could, but what got me was the fact I was called back for no reason, and instead of sending me home I was thrown for unit to unit.
    A lot of IRR soldiers have been activated. It’s not a recent event like many think. It’s been going on for over a year now. The Army is strung out thin. I just hope the military uses the IRR more efficently then of late. And not like they used me.
    ps… if you do get called back, don’t be like some IRR soldiers. Give the unit you are atttached to 100%. If you do they will be more likly to help you get home quicker.

  29. Brian says:

    I am an IRR soldier with 6 months left on my 8 year contract. If the military wanted me to come back and give 100% for the remainder of my contract then so be I would give them all I have and more. However they will likely call me up and be sending me to Iraq right before my ETS, so I will end up serving for a year and a half or more over my 8 years. Thats what has me so upset. The fact that the 8 year contract really doesnt mean anything I will have served close to a decade when its all said and done.

  30. John says:

    I am in the IRR. I had my 5-year physical in April.My ETS is 21 July. Is it possible I will be called up or is it to close to the end? Also, how do you know if you are affected by the stop-loss?

  31. Angie says:

    Does anyone else know anything about the comment earlier in this discussion stating that soldiers with more than 8 years in will not be called out of the IRR? My husband has 13 years in and is riding out the last 3 years of his contract in IRR. He also has bulging discs and disc degeneration which we hope will make him undeployable. Any further info would be very helpful.

  32. Michelle says:

    Can anyone confirm that the IRR ceasing to exist is real or just a ploy by recruiters to get IRRs to get back into units? I know we have been lied to quite a bit by recruiters as they are most often only out to pad their numbers so they don’t lose their jobs.

    Everyone in IRR has a contract that says they can transfer from reserve or active duty to the IRR at any time during their obligation. If they dissolved the IRR, wouldn’t this amount to breach of contract? We brought this up to our recruiter and he had no response. Just a thought.

  33. caveman says:

    Can someone tell me if time spent in time spent in DEP counts towards the 8 year total. My memory tells me that is, but I can’t confirm it. BTW, I hope the scare tactics work to get high enough numbers so they don’t grab me.

  34. Brian says:

    Yes time in the DEP counts towards your 8 year total.

  35. Brian says:

    Hmm sounds like recruiters were screwing with our emotions. I hope its the truth.

  36. James Joyner says:

    All: This turned out to be a big SNAFU. The Army has rescinded the policy: THERE IS NO NEED TO RE-UP UNLESS YOU WANT TO. The details are at this follow-up post.