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US Army Individual Ready Reserve
Posted by: McQ on Friday, May 09, 2008

Consider this your continuing education segment on how the Army works.

You've read the stories about "former" soldiers who thought their obligations were complete but had been called back to active duty?

Almost to a man they claim they were sure their obligation was complete and further claim the military was unlawfully calling them back.

Eh, not really.

I had the opportunity to talk with MG Sean Byrne who commands the US Army Human Resources Command about the Individual Ready Reserve (IRR). The IRR is a pool of former active duty soldiers who are serving out the rest of their contractual obligation to the military. What most people don't seem to understand, obviously to include some service members, is that the 2 to 4 years you serve on active duty are only a part of the 8 year obligation you sign up for at that time. It is in the contract signed by every enlistee.

One of the common misconceptions is that when they receive that DD 214 at the end of their active service, they are done. The belief that the receipt of that form, which is a release from active duty, ends their obligation, is false. It only separates the soldier from active duty, but does not discharge them from their reserve obligation.

In fact, when they process through the separation transfer point, each soldier signs his DD 214 which specifically states he or she is subject to recall to active duty if the need arises (block 6). The form also tells them exactly how much time they have left (block 18).

How big of a problem has this been in reality? As we all know, newspaper stories only report the plane that crashes and not the thousands of planes that land safely daily.

The present pool of IRR soldiers stands at 72,000. The number recalled to active duty at this moment is 6,500. The number of stories that you've read about? Maybe 50.

We asked MG Byrne if there isn't a better way of ensuring that soldiers are more aware of this obligation to insure that there are fewer such stories. He pointed out that a new emphasis is going to be made in the separation transfer points (where soldiers separate from the Army). I asked if perhaps that couldn't be emphasized at the enlistment stage as well, maybe as a more prominent part of the contract so the soldier understood going in, that he or she was, in actuality, signing up for an 8 year military obligation, of which only 2 to 4 years would be on active duty (unless of course, the reenlisted). He said he thought it was well emphasized but perhaps could use some tweaking there as well.

MG Byrne did mention that exemptions are granted for material change in health or material change in circumstances that can't be overcome and they are considered on a case-by-case basis.

Bottom line - everyone who signs up (enlists) signs up for 8 years. Unless that 8 years from their enlistment date has passed (and there are some contracts, although few, which only have a 6 year obligation) they are subject to recall if necessary - bellyaching and bloviating notwithstanding.
 
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I think part of the problem is that you fill out SO much paperwork at MEPS that alot of recruits get numb and inattentive. Same as when you’re outprocessing. Plus, all you can think about is PCSing to Ft. Living Room!

Something that should tips these joes off is that they don’t get a discharge certificate until their IRR component of service has expired. I spent a year and a half on IRR and then one day I got my Honorable discharge in the mail. Kind of anti-climactic, I thought!
 
Written By: Jeff
URL: http://
I think part of the problem is that you fill out SO much paperwork at MEPS that alot of recruits get numb and inattentive. Same as when you’re outprocessing. Plus, all you can think about is PCSing to Ft. Living Room!
Absolutely. In fact, we brought that point up to MG Byrne and he agreed. Its just another in a huge litany of thing you hear and forms you fill out and sign - and your whole focus is getting out of there. That’s why he said that there was going to be more emphasis placed on that one bit of information.

Frankly I think they ought to hand them their final packet of paperwork with a sheet of paper on the fron that says "You still have X years and N months to serve in the Reserve. You are subject to recall on active duty until this date: mmddyyyy."

Might get the point across. It would also give them something to wave at the authorities if they tried to recall them after that date (which I don’t think has been the case in the vast majority of these incidents).
Something that should tips these joes off is that they don’t get a discharge certificate until their IRR component of service has expired. I spent a year and a half on IRR and then one day I got my Honorable discharge in the mail. Kind of anti-climactic, I thought!
Hey, I just got my Certificate of Retirement from the Army of the United States yesterday - in the mail. I was happy to get it - now I start drawing that retirement pay.

I thanked MG Byrne for that, btw, since he’s the commander of the Human Resources Command which processed my paperwork. ;)
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.QandO.net
My active duty enlistment was supposed to end in June 1992, but I was still deployed for Operation Desert Storm and I was placed under the Air Force’s stop loss policy. I went back to my base in Italy three months later and was outprocessed in 2 days (through New Jersey if I remember correctly).

I wasn’t the only one kept in because of stop loss, and everyone seemed well aware of the rules.

Furthermore, looking at my DD Form 214, it has a big black box around 6. RESERVE OBLIG. TERM. DATE with a year, month, and day. Then it has (among other things) under 18. Remarks: "Extension of service was at the request and for the convenience of the government.—Subject to recall to active duty and/or annual screening."

I don’t know how much the form has changed during the past 16 years, but I suspect it’s pretty much the same.
 
Written By: JWG
URL: http://
I wasn’t the only one kept in because of stop loss, and everyone seemed well aware of the rules.
Yeah, stop loss is a little different kettle of fish.
Furthermore, looking at my DD Form 214, it has a big black box around 6. RESERVE OBLIG. TERM. DATE with a year, month, and day. Then it has (among other things) under 18. Remarks: "Extension of service was at the request and for the convenience of the government.—Subject to recall to active duty and/or annual screening."
It hasn’t and MG Byrne talked about those two blocks when he mentioned the form. I just didn’t make that clear in the post (which I’ve now edited to do so).

My DD 214 doesn’t have that on it, but then mine was chiseled on a rock anyway.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.QandO.net
Hey, I just got my Certificate of Retirement from the Army of the United States yesterday - in the mail. I was happy to get it - now I start drawing that retirement pay.
F*cking lifer.
 
Written By: Jeff
URL: http://
F*cking lifer.
And laughing all the way to the bank about it.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.QandO.net
Well, I can confirm that as of 2005 the DD 214 still has the "Reserve Oblig. Term. Date" block since I just dug mine out to doublecheck. Funny thing is it seems to count DEP, and so has me coming off next month instead of July. In any case I know that just about everyone I ETS-ed with (stop-loss ensured that there were large chunks of ETS-ing soldiers outprocessing at once once our Brigade redeployed.) was fully aware of what IRR meant for them. Then again since about a lot of us WERE stop-lossed I suspect that most of us might have been more aware of the specifics of our contracts than those who hadn’t looked at anything they’d signed since the day they hit MEPS (and for the record, in my experience the "angst" of stop-loss was another thing blown far out of proportion by the media. In most cases the worst case for most first-tour enlisted personnel was the need to reschedule their college admissions, and most colleges including the one I’m at now were fairly flexible about it).
 
Written By: Lysenko
URL: http://
I enlisted in the Army in 1997, was active duty for 4 years. From the start, the 8 year obligation and IRR piece were made clear to me. As far as I know, everyone I served with and recent veterans I met after I got out were clear about it, too. It was common knowledge.

In fact, when I had my mandatory meeting with the Reserves recruiter during my ACAP, she tried the strong-arm tactic of implying that IRR soldiers were being called up involuntarily in large numbers, so it was better for me to join the Reserves for the remainder of my obligation in order to control my fate.

 
Written By: Eric Chen
URL: http://
may recruiters should be more up front and tell people that its 4 years active and 4 years inactive with the REAL possibility of being called up and not telling lies like "ohh you will never get called up because thats just in case of ww3" or some other BS. so much for all that integrity and honor that leaders are supposed to have huh? then you wonder why lower enlisted soldiers want to leave the army in droves.
 
Written By: slntax
URL: http://
They should video tape them saying "Yes I realize I am in the IRR and still have an obligation of X years left and may be subject to recall"


Soldiers are told this wehn they go in, and when they separate.

Of course some folks are still voting for Hillary or Obama and the republicans did nominate McCain so therefore there are idiots out there.

 
Written By: retired military
URL: http://
sintax: "may recruiters should be more up front and tell people that its 4 years active and 4 years inactive with the REAL possibility of being called up and not telling lies like "ohh you will never get called up because thats just in case of ww3" or some other BS."

I agree to a point. I think it depends on the job. Back in the day, it was fine to say an IRR call-up was an extreme possibility for all soldiers (except if you were a Reserves recruiter looking to police up ACAPing active-duty soldiers). I think it still holds true for most MOSs, at least in the Army. Aside: I also wouldn’t equate the 8 year contract and IRR with stop-loss, which was also made clear to me and I considered it common knowledge - heck, in Korea, we seriously/sarcastically joked about stop-loss all the time in the context of nK invading a day before PCS.

For this war, which isn’t WW3 (ie, a global total war), my perception is that Marines generally are being called up from IRR more than Army, and within the Army, MPs, EOD, and interrogators (any other in-demand MOSs - engineers, maybe?) are more likely to be called up while everyone else stays home. For my part, I haven’t heard a thing from the Army since I ETS’ed. After 9/11, I thought I would be called, but I guess we had enough 96Bs.
 
Written By: Eric Chen
URL: http://
He pointed out that a new emphasis is going to be made in the separation transfer points (where soldiers separate from the Army). ... He said he thought it was well emphasized but perhaps could use some tweaking there as well.

No amount of emphasis can overcome wishful thinking, and a lot of soldiers have a mentality that they can outsmart the system. And I say mentality because I’ve talked to guys from when they’re planning how they’re going to outsmart the system and then observed them make good on their promise. They keep the faith all the way up to trying to win he-said she-said argument with a first sergeant who is making them read from a sworn statement. Even when they’re being read and when they’re on 45 days of extra duty, they still believe it. I was supervising a guy filling sandbags who, without a hint of irony in his voice, told me he was smarter than the system. That the Army can inspire such faith must make the Pope jealous.

In fact, when I had my mandatory meeting with the Reserves recruiter during my ACAP, she tried the strong-arm tactic of implying that IRR soldiers were being called up involuntarily in large numbers, so it was better for me to join the Reserves for the remainder of my obligation in order to control my fate.

Having seen how chewed up most reserve units are, I’d rather take my chances being called up to active duty.
 
Written By: ben
URL: http://
McQ:
Hey, I just got my Certificate of Retirement from the Army of the United States yesterday - in the mail. I was happy to get it - now I start drawing that retirement pay.
Not so fast. If you are a Regular, you retire to a "Temporary Duty Retirement List" (TDRL). If needs of the service arise before you reach age 65, you may get a letter.

I put in 20 in the USAF, 1967 to 1987, retired and went to work for a defense electronics firm (a Division of LTV). In 1991, my old boss, LT General Chuck Horner was the air boss of the Gulf War. After a young friend of mine was roughed up by the press, I got a letter. Immediately, I called the USAF Personnel Center to find out what was up. What I was afraid of was that I would get sent to some stateside command post so an active duty guy could get into the fight. I told them that if they called me up, I wanted to go. By the time they got back to me, the problem had been solved.

I’ll be 65 next February (if I live). Until then, I am ready, willing and able to serve.
 
Written By: Arch
URL: http://
In 1987, I enlisted and it was made very clear to me that I had an 8 year total obligation. In July 1990, I left active duty aware that I had 5 years of an 8 year obligation left. Considering this was before we got to reap the "peace dividend" and still had 18 divisions, I never thought I’d be called back in. In 1991 I was called back to active duty, for Desert Storm, not in my plans, but I knew it wasa possibility. I have no sympathy for any of these guys, the havd a bad case of selective listening. Most of these guys have already been told by countless squad leaders, 1SG’s and CO’s that with a war on, their skills were needed, and they were offered some very generous reenlistment incentives. They chose to play the odds, and lost. They got the job training, GI Bill, and a clearance from Uncle Sam, now they’re paying off the rest of the bill.

I retire next summer with 21 years, Hoo-ah!
 
Written By: SFC SKI
URL: http://
"F*cking lifer."

"And laughing all the way to the bank about it. "

Hey I have been drawing my retirement pay since 1998

——————————————————————-

People who claim they dont know they have IRR time are like people who seem to remember what the adjustable means in adjustable rate morgage and then scream when they cant afford payments when they could barely qualify for the house under some of the lowest interest rates in history (comparitably speaking). The are people who just throw their hands up like a 3 year old when they realize it affects them and says " I dont kow"


 
Written By: retired military
URL: http://
I honestly can’t remember if they told me about this or not. I thought I had a six year obligation. Even if my entire obligation was 8 years, I’m about 30 past the expiration date...



 
Written By: MarkD
URL: http://
"I thought I had a six year obligation"

You probably did.
"...1948 law was replaced (1951) by the Universal Military Training and Service Act. The length of service was extended to 24 months, and the minimum age for induction was reduced to 18 1/2 years. The main purpose of the Reserve Forces Act of 1955 was to strengthen the reserve forces and the National Guard. It required six years of duty, including both reserve and active duty."

http://www.encyclopedia.com/doc/1E1-selectiv.html

I can clearly remember various discussions from long ago and far away about the military service obligation. It was widely known that draftees had two years of active duty followed by two years in the active reserves, followed by another two years in the inactive reserves.


Just for the record, the enlistment document;

http://www.rethinkingschools.org/archive/19_03/military_enlistment.pdf

From page two;

"10. MILITARY SERVICE OBLIGATION FOR ALL
MEMBERS OF THE ACTIVE AND RESERVE COMPONENTS,
INCLUDING THE NATIONAL GUARD.
a. FOR ALL ENLISTEES: If this is my initial enlistment,
I must serve a total of eight (8) years. Any part
of that service not served on active duty must be served
in a Reserve Component unless I am sooner discharged."





 
Written By: timactual
URL: http://
Probably the solution would be to send a registered letter to the outprocessing soldier’s address three weeks after he leaves. That letter would be a reminder that you still got time.
 
Written By: Mikey NTH
URL: http://
Probably the solution would be to send a registered letter to the outprocessing soldier’s address three weeks after he leaves. That letter would be a reminder that you still got time.
That’s a good idea. One of the things MG Byrne said is that address is usually his Home of Record (HOR), and alot of times that is his parents home. So after a while that address isn’t valid anymore.

They could also lay out his/her responsibilities to keep them informed of any personal information changes (like his address) etc and even include a prepaid change of address card.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.QandO.net
I’m currently stop-lossed in Iraq, and hoping that when I redeploy and enter into IRR, I won’t be recalled. Is there any benefit to having been stop-lossed prior to entering into the IRR?
 
Written By: CarlS
URL: http://
Other than more time served and thus less required for service obligation completion (and thus recall), none that I know of.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.QandO.net

 
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