Faced with pressure to downsize active-duty complements and personnel costs while continuing to remain mission ready, it seems everyone is open to new ideas- but is the IRR the answer? Some experts believe so and, if they have their way, 4 & 4 is likely to be more like 4 & More.
The traditional military contract consists of an 8 year obligation – 4 on active duty and the remainder as a member of the Individual Ready Reserve. Of course, if a service member serves more than 4 years Active Duty, or transitions to the Reserves or National Guard, the IRR obligation is reduced accordingly. Some members of The Reserve Forces Policy Board, an advisory committee which holds no actual policy making authority, want to change that. If the RFPB has its way, select members of the IRR would be used for “short-term missions”- a practice the Board likens to when civilian employers utilize part-time employees.
In support of their proposal, the Board refers to the over ¼ million current IRR members as “a pool of pre-trained, high-quality manpower that the American military has invested a lot money in – and they are just sitting there.” RFPB Chairman Arnold Palmer went on to state “If we are looking at creating greater flexibility and maximizing the use of all talent, the IRR could play a very important role.” Good sound bites, but not really the whole story .
First, this not a “pool of pre-trained, high-quality manpower….just sitting there” it is a group of service members who have completed their expected active service and transitioned to a new phase in their lives. Counting on them for more than the most severe crisis is not only more than was originally expected, it is likely to be disruptive to their personal and professional lives and will further complicate what is already a difficult situation for many.
Second, the mobilization of IRR troops is limited by law to presidential authorization. This was done for a reason and similar to the draft was intended for only the worst situations. To keep this in perspective, you need to keep in mind that during the Iraq-Afghanistan conflicts the Army and Marine Corps only utilized approximately 30,000 IRR members while the Navy and Air Force only mobilized a small number of individuals, generally those with special clearances or training.
While I understand the need to look for alternatives while cutting costs and still maintaining readiness, increased forced mobilization of the IRR is NOT the answer. These members have fulfilled their active duty obligation and, although additional IRR membership is also an obligation, that was also outlined very specifically during both the enlistment and exit processes. Treating the IRR as “part-time employees” is not the same at what happens in the civilian world; in the civilian world, employees are not expected to continue working for a former employer AFTER leaving for a different job.
Rather than making it easier to mobilize IRR members, I suggest they make it easier for IRR members to voluntarily accept temporary positions, something which could be a big help to transitioning members who may be waiting for college admittance or future employment to start.
Disclaimer: The content in this article is the opinion of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the policies or opinions of US Patriot Tactical.
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