June 28, 2007: The army has decided not to call in all
78,000 of its IRR (Individual Ready Reserve) troops to check their status.
Instead, a sample of 5,000 of them will be contacted and called in for a
"muster" to see if they are fit for duty.
Three years ago, the U.S.
Army began calling up members of the IRR. This didn't work as expected, because
a lot of the people selected could not be found. No one really kept track of where
the IRR people were, aside from the home address they gave when they were
discharged. So the army decided to invoke another rarely used aspect of the IRR
law, the mandatory muster.
Most people in the IRR are
there for four years, to finish out the eight year obligation incurred when
they enlisted (usually for four years of active duty.) The IRR has existed for
nearly half a century, and had never really been used until now. The current
situation appears to be exactly what the IRR was designed for, and the army
plans to use it heavily. In theory, the army could make everyone who enlisted,
serve eight years (instead of the usual 3-6 years.) This is unlikely, as there
are limits on how many reservists the president can call up without a formal
declaration of war. Moreover, not all of the 50,000 or so troops discharged
each year have skills that the army needs to fill emergency needs. One thing is
for certain, troops, including those recently discharged, are now much more
aware of what the IRR is.
The annual muster applies
to most IRR members, and those who are required to muster will be paid for
their time, along with travel expenses. The musters will be held at military
bases, including National Guard and reserve centers. The current plan is for
the annual muster to be a two hour procedure. The muster staff will check
current address, employment and general availability for service of the IRR
troops. The army and marines have found that many of their IRR people were
eager to serve. Even retired troops have been volunteering. But many veterans
simply don't know what their options are.