Okay, the Biden Regency is moving to tap the IRR. If memory serves (stupid lightning) the last time we did this was the First Gulf War. W considered it during the GWOT but if I remember correctly (and a veteran on social media is right) it ended up being extremely limited to some very specialized MOS. The howls of outrage from the media and elsewhere over even thinking of tapping the IRR were long and loud. Word is, those forced back in during FGW were far from happy (massive understatement) and made that known.

For the GWOT, I would note that things were done to allow IRR who wanted to return to volunteer to do so. While there were (apparently) a few very select MOS pulled back involuntarily, a number did indeed volunteer to return.

For those not familiar, there are two elements to our national military reserve. When you sign on that dotted line, you are not just signing up for a single hitch, no matter what you may think. While you have options, you also incur some non-discretionary obligations.

Most people are familiar with the Selected Reserve (SELRES) where people join the National Guard or Reserve after an active-duty hitch or hitches, and maintain active status while participating in regular drills, training, etc. You maintain an active military ID and at need you can get that bright and joyous notice that you are recalled to active duty.

A lot of the public is unfamiliar with the IRR, or Individual Ready Reserve. Technically, that’s pretty much anyone who has ever served. Some in the IRR are completing terms of military service, and the fact that IRR members can be involuntarily recalled is often downplayed IMO. The idea is to have a cadre of (semi) trained troops that can be called upon “in time of national crisis.” In other words, something really bad has happened.

IRR does not maintain current military ID, does not drill or participate in regular training, draw uniforms, etc. They do have to do a yearly readiness screening. Cough.

So, drawing on the IRR is not something one does lightly. Those recalled have to be brought back in, the rust blown off, and unless they are recently detached that takes time. Those pulled back in involuntarily are likely to be a bit grumpy and uncooperative. Cough.

So, the decision by the Biden Regency to use the IRR is raising eyebrows in the military/veteran community. I’ve heard rumors that this particular action in support of Operation Atlantic Resolve is normal and happens every year. However, I’ve not been able to confirm that and people who should know if it is true or not have not said it is. Going to keep an ear open on that.

The use of Guard/Reserve troops in support is not surprising. There are units that are tasked to step into various roles, including critical roles, in the event of war and that they would take part is a given (and smart). It’s the use of IRR that is concerning.

Absent a national crisis that has depleted resources in Active and Guard/Reserve formations, or pulling a few people with extremely select MOS, why hit the IRR?

I fear it says much about our readiness, manning, and capabilities. If we are in a position where Active and Guard/Reserve formations can’t provide enough manpower (and the correct manpower), we are in deep trouble. Then again, we’ve known the military was in trouble for a while. That said, the use of the IRR would tend to indicate that things are a lot worse than we thought.

This is another one of those where I hope I’m wrong and the info I getting from those I trust is wrong. I really hope this is just limited to a very small number of people with a very specific MOS who have recently left service. Otherwise, what it says about our ability to fight a one-front war, much less the two-front we are supposed to be capable fighting, borders on terrifying.

NOTE: VodkaPundit has, as usual, a good take on this.

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17 thoughts on “IRR????”

  1. The joint headquarters in Europe, EUCOM, cannot do its mission without reserve augmentation. This is a result of it splitting itself long ago to form AFRICOM, headquartered across town (Stuttgart, Germany) at Kelley Barracks. This call up is no surprise.

    1. Guard/Reserve augmentation is not a surprise, as noted. IRR? Yes, that is a surprise and, according to some informed sources, outside normal scope.

  2. …Just a clarification – the yearly check is (or at least was) actually a small random ‘reach-out-and-touch’ sample which asks those members to report to a certain facility and confirm that they are, in fact, alive and reasonably intact. No physical was required, and to the best of my knowledge if someone got the letter and didn’t show up there was no follow-up.

    1. FWIW, as an IRR in the 90’s Clinton-era burn-down, I never had any communication other than a ‘You’re Out!!’ letter when my IRR time expired.

  3. They did IRR calls during Operation Iraqi Freedom at least as late as 2010. I know this because I was First Sergeant for a Select Reserve task force which was sent to Iraq with about 20 or so enlisted IRRs as part of our unit. No, they were not terribly happy about it either. Although some of these folks were from a rather specialized MOS (military job title), I had a few that were more supply and commo types. When we transitioned from OIF to Operation New Dawn in Fall 2010, the IRR folks were first in line to get sent back home when we downsized our unit by about a third.

    In 2005-06, I had a much larger group of officer and enlisted IRRs as a part of my unit. Most of the officers were even more unhappy because they had been rather quickly cross-trained in their new MOS and sent to Iraq. We had a few issues, since many of these folks had a rather understandable sense that they had gotten screwed by the Army.

  4. It simply allows them to cherry pick the guys with relevant expertise in areas that active duty has very few people able to do the job. Believe it or not there are many skilled specialties that are only 2 or 3 deep. That’s it because usually they don’t need/want more than that. Used to see this a lot during the involuntary assignments to support our army in Iraq and Afghanistan. It sucked to be one of those guys and they got out as quickly as possible. IRR servitude window was usually open no longer than 4 years after leaving active duty.

    1. When i was an Army physician, my IRR obligation was 8 years minimum and lifetime unless I formally resigned my commission. Which I did.

  5. I really would like to read your take on the change of OAR to a contingency operation. To me, this is very concerning. Besides providing some more benefits to the reservists and their families it indicates a change of footing. A contingency by definition is a military operation “in which members of the Armed Forces are or may become involved in military actions, operations, or hostilities against an enemy of the United States or against an opposing military force or which results in the call or order to, or retention on, active duty of members of the uniformed services under federal law or any other provision of law during a war or during a national emergency declared by the President or Congress.” Which also sounds a LOT like allowing the DOD to enact a stop-loss.

    These evil idiots really want WWIII.

  6. Imagine how long it will take for activated IRR folks to make up all that missed diversity training that they’ve missed since they separated! It could be a year before they have all the boxes checked off so they can be shipped Over There…

  7. Some notes to frame the conversation with facts:
    Note that Atlantic Resolve has been supported by Selected Reserve Callup Authority, T10 12304b, since it started as the European Reassurance Initiative in 2015 (this is the wrong conversation to belabor differences between a presidential initiative and a DoD named operation so don’t go there). Major National Guard and Army Reserve formations have rotated in and out of Europe for 9 month BOG missions for 8 years now. The upgrade to Presidential Reserve Callup Authority T10 12304 is noteworthy, but not the sea change one would think. It may shift the funding from base budget to supplemental, although that is not a guarantee. I would bet the Army will make that argument.
    The IRR is not a lifetime commitment. Every first enlistment or commissioning into the US military carries with it an 8 year commitment. After any active duty or drilling reserve commitment is completed, the balance of the 8 years is spent in the IRR. You can leave after the 8 year mark. Some IRR servicemen/women elect to stay in the IRR but volunteer for 2-6 weeks of duty every year and earn a reserve component retirement. Major exercises and training center rotations are often augmented with IRR support, to include evaluator and white cell support.
    IRR callup was written into T10 12304 as part of the lessons learned from Desert Storm, the same legislative update that lengthened the call up to 270 days vice 180 under the same section. As a result, many IRR Soldiers served as part of the Balkans rotations in the 1990s, and other operations to include the response to the Ebola outbreak in Liberia in 2014-2015. IRR callup was used fairly extensively during the early days of GWOT, and this was actively protested in main stream media outlets. CBS news and the Washington Post both did fairly extensive reporting on the use of IRR and the related Stop Loss policy in 2005-2006.
    Hope this helps.

    1. The problem is that a lot of people don’t know that you have to formally resign after the 8 years. They think it just expires, if they think of it at all. If you don’t resign, the obligation just continues. A lot of my physician colleagues were 10 or 15 years out but never thought to formally rising their commissions. They were called up for Iraq or, later, Afghanistan and lost their practices.

  8. Two of the times I was mobilized I was in the IRR. The first was in 1991 and the second was in 2003. The first time we were a “pick-up” unit of active duty, reserve, and guard members who met for the first time in Saudi Arabia and fell in on a National Guard unit’s mission so they could go home. The second time I ended up at CENTCOM HQ (I had a TS/SCI from my civilian job).

  9. I was an 11A for 4 years from 2002 to 2006. I went to grad school in 07 and was called back to duty from the IRR to serve as a combat advisor in Afghanistan. No specialty. Just a gunfighter. There is. I other explanation for this call up than we are in dire need of bodies, as we were in 2008-09 when I was back in active duty

  10. Was always told that my retirement check is retention pay. And for those of us in the Grey Zone, it was clear from the start we can be called up to the IRR. They called me up as an Individual Augmentee for a year back in 2010, as the active duty forces were getting exhausted rotating through Europe.

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