Pentagon Seeks IRS Help To Locate Reservists
The Defense Department, strapped for troops for missions in Iraq and Afghanistan, has proposed to Congress that it tap the Internal Revenue Service to locate out-of-touch reservists.
The unusual measure, which the Pentagon said has been examined by lawyers, would allow the IRS to pass on addresses for 50,200 of the 280,000 former military members who still face recall into active duty as part of the Individual Ready Reserve. For it to become practice, Congress and President Bush would have to approve the proposal, which would involve amending the tax code.
Lt. Col. Bob Stone, a spokesman for the assistant defense secretary for reserve affairs, said the proposal was developed several years ago and is unconnected to the Army’s current troop shortage. Part or all of nine of the Army’s 10 active-duty divisions are deployed to Iraq or Afghanistan, and 167,000 members of the reserves or National Guard are on active duty.
While I can’t come up with any rational reason to oppose this, it makes me a bit uneasy. Reservists, including those in the IRR, have a legal obligation to keep the Pentagon apprised of their location and, logically, it seems silly to segregate the information that the government legally possesses. Still, using the IRS’ vast database for this purpose has a bit of a Big Brother feel.