IRR Call-Up Redux

CNN — Rarely used reservists may go to Iraq

A group of Army Reserve soldiers rarely tapped for duty could soon be heading to Iraq, Pentagon officials said Wednesday. The troops, part of the Individual Ready Reserve (IRR), could be called to fill holes in units deploying to Iraq as part of the upcoming rotation of troops later this year. As many as 6,500 IRR troops could be called and would be chosen because of critical skills needed in Iraq, such as Military Police, infantry or engineers, Pentagon officials said. A decision by the Pentagon to call up these troops is expected within the next week, according to officials.

The Pentagon has a pool of about 118,000 Army IRR troops, consisting of people with past military service who have a remaining mandatory service obligation. The category is distinct from regular Reserve troops because they do not perform any military service during the year, yet are still eligible to be called to service. About 2,000 IRR troops already serve at some capacity with Operation Iraqi Freedom, though many of them volunteered for service, according to Pentagon officials.

The last time a significant number of IRR troops were called to duty was for the Gulf War in 1991, according to Pentagon officials.

This has been a slow-developing story, especially since word of it was leaked and exploited by recruiters to dupe the uninformed into “volunteering” for duty. [See all OTB posts on the issue here.]

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. chris says:

    I am one of those IRR folks. I have 2 years left on my obligation…we’ll see what happens. Since I left and wasn’t in one of those major branches that needs troops, I don’t think I’ll be affected. They already have enough of my “pogue” branch folks in the Active, reserve and NG levels.

  2. A Soldier says:

    This again?

    Well at least the number is 6,500. Considering how many people there are in the IRR, that’s really not all that many.

  3. Al says:

    I’m in the IRR, so I am interested in your comments, insights and our war in general. I wonder what kind of engineers the army has a shortage of? I would think it would be combat engineers … but with all of the rebuilding activity in Iraq, they may be looking at the civilian skills data base for IRR officers that are engineers?

    Any thoughts or feedback on whats going on? I like other IRR types would probably like to know where will be and what we will be doing a year from now. Should I buy that house I like, change jobs or make another baby …

  4. christina says:

    I read another article that said people with training in civilian affairs, medical training, psychops, and military police are who they’re looking at pulling first. they’re also looking to close ft. irwin to pull all of the people there. i know someone who got orders from there. and, yet another article said that irr’s that live within a 50 mile radius of a place that has spots to fill are going to be called soonest.

  5. Josiah says:

    I’m one month out of the IRR, Critical MOS (MI Branch). I am also a senior Political Science major on my way to grad school. Further, I am appauled at this development. This simply should not be happening. We never should have gone into Iraq. Bush either lied, or was too stupid to know he wasn’t lying; either way, he is inept. btw, I’m a republican so don’t think this is some liberal freak.

  6. Michael says:

    Has any seen a list that states what MOS that will be called to duty? I just hear that MP, Medical, MI, and Engineers, but there are a lot of MOS in each of those groups.

  7. James Kinneavy says:

    What will be most interesting will be to see the criteria they use to select these 6500 or (by the Army’s current estimate 5600). Specifically, after filtering on critical MOS, do they take statutory versus contractual obligants first (earlier they promised to take you newbies first). But then what? Specific pay grades depending on open slots? Time remaining on contract? Age? I’m a 38 year old E-6 with 214 days left on my 4th contract and a 38A (Civil Affairs). I reenlisted after I went back into the IRR and haven’t served in a TPU in 6 years. Frankly, I am completely unqualified to serve in the capacity for which they are likely to conscript me (I went through 1 week of training 17 years ago when CA was a skill qualifier, not an MOS and have no practical experience doing CA). I would be a liability in the field, but I’m critical resource…yeah, right. Why oh why did I not sign the 3 year contract?!? See you in Iraq…or Canada

  8. Anonymous says:

    I agree with a lot of what has already been said, as I too once served, and I’m now apart of the IRR until early 2008. I wish they would post a list of the MOS so that for those of us who are putting our life on hold, can either relax or know that it is a possibility and continue holding our breath.

  9. Jeff Begley says:

    The reserve recruiter scare tactic is still being used. I attended my separation briefing June 9 at Ft. Meade, MD and the reserve recruiter, SFC D, said we might as well all sign up now and try to scramble for a safe unit otherwise we would all be called back in within a couple months and placed in the first unit out of here.

    It was his contention that the initial call-up would be followed by wider ones very soon. Being a 96B who’s already seen 4 operations in the last 6 years, enlisting in the active reserve would just get me deployed immediately so I took my chances. Personally, I think the IRR should have been called up before the NG was deployed. Those boys and girls signed up to work for their state and, as the name says, Guard the Nation. I think that’s saying a lot when it means I would rather be called up again than someone who truly didn’t sign up for foreign soil missions.

  10. James Kinneavy says:

    I just spoke with a rep at HRC and received the following information (recognizing that there are as many “official explanations” as HRC employees) about their selection process (in no particular order after item 2):

    1) MOS and grade
    2) Statutorily obligated people (then contractually obligated)
    3) Recency of active service
    4) Recency of training

    There may be some sensitivity to remaining time on a contract, but nothing firm. Hopefully this is helpful to some of you who are concerned as am I. I would strongly encourage anyone who hates the waiting game to call your congress person, the Army Public Affairs, or anyone else you think will help to provide clarification on their selection process. It is a tremendous disservice to those of us who have served honorably for many years to be left hanging on a thread regarding our fate. While we are obligated to answer the call and our employers obligated to protect our jobs, the Army could do a lot to ease the burden and worry.

  11. Aaron says:

    James M., we’re in a similar situation. I have 211 days as of the time of this post. I find myself continuously going to the U.S. Army Human Resources Command to check my order history. I cringe when they say my record can’t be accessed (possible update?) heh. Guess there’s too many people doing the same thing. It’ll be nice when we can breathe again.

  12. Aaron says:

    Sorry, James K..

  13. Lamar says:

    Just like all of you guys I am very worried. I am a junior at my university and I hate the thought of having to put it on hold for a year or two. I served four years as a field artilleryman and I went to korea. . .I hope I do not have to go to Iraq but if I have to what can you do.

  14. Peter says:

    Article just added to the army website giving some more detail. This article mentions truck drivers, mechanics, logistics personnel, and administrative specialists. It also states that orders will be recieved on July 6th and the earlist.

  15. Tony says:

    The number supposedly called (5600), seems low considering the number of total IRR soldiers (111,000) but we all need to remember that approximately 50,000 IRR soldiers are presently considered unreachable because the army doesn’t have an address to contact them. This significantly reduces the number of IRR soldiers available. Sorry I don’t mean to scare anyone, I’m in the same shoes. I’ve served 3 years active, I have about 200 days left on my IRR obligation, I’m less than a year from graduating college. If I get called I’ll serve again even though I am TOTALLY opposed to this war, moreover I think that our chief executive is a complete moron, and this is coming from a republican who will be voting for Kerry in November. Good luck to all.

  16. John says:

    Do they want people with higher rank or lower rank?

  17. bob says:

    I am one of those in a high demand mos, I have four months left in the IRR. I am also employed by the army as a civilian in the same job. having these qualifications should I run and join the national gaurd and try to avoid being called up or should I take my chance and swet it out? I am not scared of going somewhere. I just rather not leave my family to go play in a sand box. Any advice please reply

  18. phil says:

    I am a medic who left the service 4 months ago. I wonder what diqualifiers there are to being called up…what screening process are they using. Before I got out I was diagnosed with Bipolar/anxiety disorder(by a military psychiatrist)…..Does anyone know if this is a disqualifier. Any info would help. Thanks

  19. James K. says:

    Tony. I agree with your assessment of our Moron-in-Chief. However, before you necessarily decide to vote for Kerry (I’m still undecided), remember he has consistently stated that we need more, not fewer troops in Iraq. Don’t forget, Nixon promised to get the U.S. out of Vietnam in ’68.

  20. Erich says:

    I am as patriotic as the next person, I served 5 years four months as a 19D cavalry scout, several accomadations, and letters of commendation from Gen. Leon J. Laporte, and a letter from a Senator. With all of this I was discharged under the APFT chapter 13 failure. Upon my General Under Honorable Condition discharge, several months later I was contacted by the Texas National Guard and was asked if I would like to join. I felt that I had been set aside, for failing three PT tests, all of this while dealing with a torn ACL in my knee. But was discouraged to report my injury. Now upon the eve of this mass mobilization, I wonder if I will be asked to return. My thouhghts are to the government that I was turned away thrown away like a piece of trash. Bear in mind never once an Article-15, never a derogitory counceling, and never once used drugs. Yet through all of this the Army in its wisdom still allows drug-offenders, rapists, and spouse-abusers to remain on active duty. I love my country and I love the Army, more rather the people that I meet in the Army, however, if ordered to involuntarily go back in, my answer is a resounding “NO!”

  21. Anthony says:

    As an IRR recent member, lost my IMA slot after being called up for one year after 9-11, I will wait and see if I get another set of orders.

    However, I must say that I am surprised at the complaining about being called up and that some say they are opposed to the war who are in the IRR. Better hope a JAG doesn’t find out. Especially since we are a voluntary military.

    Whether I’m opposed or not has NO bearing or consideration on my DUTY as a soldier. As long as I may or may not be recalled, I will make no comment pro or anti against OUR CINC or his decisions.

    If you have a problem, get out, claim pacifism or just refuse and take your article like a soldier. The SOLDIERS that are on the ground now do not need any wishy-washy, cry babies watching their back.

    If you believe all the truth about Sadam, his regime, O Sama, France, the UN, Germany, MWD has all been told, you are naive and it will be years befor the truth be known.

    No sane person would say that it is better that Sadam be still in power, but no one, except those who believe the UN could have removed him, gives a viable alternative. Should moral people allow immoral dictators to persecute their own people and pose a threat to neighboring countries?

    I do not have the answers and neither do you. Let us pray for the world leaders and as IRR members, be ready to do our duty.

  22. sue says:

    what type of benefits do the family members left at home get? we have bills to pay, we won’t have any child care. what to we do?

  23. BRD says:

    I can’t believe the careless and offensive comment by Robert “Smiley” in the Army press release outlining the Pentagon’s decision to utilize IRR soldiers. He deemed this use of soldiers “just good personnel management”. Mr. Smiley, you should apologize to every soldier affected.

  24. BRD says:

    I can’t believe the careless and offensive comment by Robert “Smiley” in the Army press release outlining the Pentagon’s decision to utilize IRR soldiers. He deemed this use of soldiers “just good personnel management”. Mr. Smiley, you should apologize to every soldier affected.

  25. Dave says:

    The President is moron? Go to Canada? Did you or did you NOT sign a contract with the U.S. Government? I was called back in 1991. I had been out 2 years. Yes, my life was put on hold. Yet, I still went. It was my duty. Yes, it sucks. Yes, it isn’t fair. But life is what it is. You signed your life away to the U.S. Government for 8 years. What did you expect? I can’t believe the complaining I’m reading here! You think voting for Sen. Kerry will change things? One word: SAD!

  26. BRD says:

    So has anyone (IRR) received orders as of today, 6 July?? How long are we to be kept in suspense?

  27. Tony says:

    My Dear “Dave”,
    First of all, before starting a debate, learn to write. (You know the GI BILL can still help you get an education). Second, I am not complaining since I said that I would step up and serve wherever the army needs me. I have the right to call the “president” a moron, oh and also a douche bag. I served in the US Army to preserve this right of free expression and speech. And yes I will be voting for Kerry, he might not be able to change the situation but I will not support a Chief Executive who cuts military active duty pay in a time of war, cuts veterans’ allowances, destroys the environment, lessens the tax for the wealthy…
    One word: Think!

  28. Dave says:

    Tony Tony Tony Tony,

    All I’m asking is, “What did you expect?” You signed your life away for 8 years to the U.S. Army. Not the Boy Scouts of America. IRR call up shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone at a time of war. (over 20,000 IRR, to include myself, were called up in 1991)

    NOW WHEN THE COUNTRY NEEDS YOU, you pop off about the President and his policies. Next your going to tell me that Bush is the criminal, there was NEVER any WMDs in Iraq, Saddam didn’t support terrorism and Saddam was a great neighbor.

    You like Kerry? Well, you have that elitist attitude down. I can’t “think” for myself? You know better?

    Hope you can read this post. I would HATE to offend anyone with my piss poor grammar and lack of thought.

    With all that being said, My Dear Tony. I do hope you graduate on time and ALL OF YOU NEVER set foot in Iraq. PEACE!

  29. LJD says:

    I am a 19D & NCO in the IRR, with 2 years and 9 months left of my obligation. The chances that I will have to deal with this mess in that time are really good… I have even considered signing on with the Guard, just to get it over with.
    If I am called I will proudly do my duty, that I signed up to do. If I die overseas, I would hope to do so with honor and the respect of my countymen. I would turn over in my grave to hear some of the bullshit being said, very casually, by those who have done nothing more for this country than to find ways to discredit those who are working very hard, and dying for, their security.
    I agree with Dave; that it is a truly sad moment in this nation’s history… The division of our country along party lines, the bickering and nastiness, the lack of respect for eachother and our elected officials… The lack of a sense of duty or selflessness. All in a time of war.
    Yes, we are at war- NOT one of our choosing as some would suggest. I wonder if ANY President will ever be capable achieving the infallibility expected by his constituents? People just don’t get it. The terrorists (like Saddam)would behead each and every one of us if they could, Michael Moore included.
    Fortunately the terrorists arent’t aware of the fact that they DO NOT have to attack us again: We will destroy ourselves on our current path. As a nation we eat ourselves to death daily, we drink and take drugs to excess, pollute, etc. etc. etc.
    We want to buy cheap foreign goods that have to be replaced every few years, and then bitch about the economy…
    The way we play into the hands of the extremists is truly sad. Think about the impact of your words. Wake the hell up and see what is going on in the world.