Paramilitary: Muster Modified



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.

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