IRR Going Away?

It seems that the Individual Ready Reserve (IRR) as we have long known it is going away.

Army to cull 12,000 officers out of Individual Ready Reserve (Stars & Stripes)

The Army is taking more than 12,000 Individual Ready Reserve officers off the rolls and out of the running for activation, unless they actively sign up to retain their commissions and stay available for war duty. The order is a reversal of a long-standing procedure that keeps Army officers in the IRR automatically unless they resign their commission, according to Lt. Col. Bryan Hilferty, a spokesman for the Army’s personnel office. The new rule “equalizes†the way officers and enlisted are treated in the IRR, Hilferty told Stripes.

The IRR is a category of about 118,000 soldiers who have left active duty or active reserve service who still have time left on their obligation to serve, which is a minimum of eight years. Enlisted personnel who want to stay in the IRR after their obligated time is up “make a conscious decision to re-enlist,†Hilferty said. Until now, an officer who was not on active duty or active reserve status was automatically placed in the IRR, where he remained until he resigned his commission, reached mandatory retirement age, or died.

This might seem a minor administrative move but 410 officers who were still the IRR beyond their eight year obligation were under orders to mobilize until this order came down; 265 of them took the opportunity to resign.

Still, combined with a recent decision to suspend IRR call-ups for the Iraq War and the fact that the Army is not attempting to punish AWOL IRR members, one wonders if the program itself will go away.

Ironically, I stumbled upon the first story doing research after receiving an email from a concerned reader who had received a telegram informing him he’d been called up from the IRR. Given these policy changes, combined with his specialty being an odd one for call-up, I’m guessing he is the victim of a cruel hoax.


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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. LJD says:

    This is just a response to some of the horror stories we’ve heard in the news related to Iraq call-ups. I suppose the could have avoided problems if they simply told the officers that they needed to resign their commissions.

    Don’t believe the IRR will go away entirely. It is an integral part of our response to a serious world war scenario. There will also likely be a draft in that situation, but the military will need experienced soldiers to step into training and leadership positions.

  2. Anderson says:

    Wow, at first I thought the post said “IRS Going Away?”

    That will sure balance the budget.”

  3. Lister says:

    I know officers that are still being called up this month. Does anybody know a status on this mess?

  4. Former Army Wife says:

    My husband served for 5 1/2 years on active duty including a deployment to Bosnia and to Iraq. Now that he has five months remaining on his IRR commitment we got an early Christmas present from Uncle Sam calling him back to active duty for 18 months “or until released.” He is not even being called back to do the job he was trained to do – he will now be a civil affairs officer. We always knew that his commitment would be five years of active duty and three years in the IRR but it is ridiculous that the army can call him back with only five months remaining on his commitment, give us less than 30 days to prepare for his up to 2 year departure while the media proclaims that the IRR is a thing of the past and touts the Army’s great decision to release those who already finished their eight years from service. My husband would glady report and serve the remaining five months of his commitment but to call him up at the end of his commitment and take two years away from his family, job and life is absolutely incredible. We know of more than 20 members of the West Point Class of ’98 that received orders in December ’05 – so obviously the Army is trying to get the last bit of work out of these men and women before their IRR commitment expires in May.