Monthly Archives: September 2007

The Individual Ready Reserves: A Primer

By Teresa Panepinto

Part I

The Individual Ready Reserves (IRR) play an increasingly important role in the military’s total force strength, as the military has faced a personnel shortfall as a result of its “War on Terror.” Over 6,000 members of the IRR have been involuntarily called to active duty.

Collectively, as counselors and attorneys working with GIs, we don’t possess much knowledge of the IRR. This is an area that requires much in depth research. As we counsel more and more IRR members, the collective knowledge of this area will grow. In the meantime, this article is intended to provide a basic understanding of the IRR, to serve as a starting point for learning more about it.

The information provided is based almost exclusively on military regulation; unfortunately, information on current military practices is largely unknown by the author. It is also important to note that there may be differences in the handling of IRR cases between each branch of the military.

What is the IRR, and who are its members?

The IRR is part of the Ready Reserves. Its members are not assigned to a unit and do not participate in regular drills. Members of the IRR can be involuntarily called to active duty.

The following types of servicemembers make up the IRR:

Those separating from active duty who still have a remaining military service obligation (MSO)

Those separating from the Selected Reserve who still have a remaining MSO

Those enlisted in the DEP or DTP who have yet to report to active duty

Those with no prior service awaiting training before beginning service in either an active component (e.g. Regular Army) or the Selected Reserve

Those awaiting basic training before beginning service in the Selected Reserve who are not authorized to attend drills

Those participating in certain officer training programs

Participants in Armed Forces Health Professions Financial Assistance Programs (e.g. AFHPSP)

Those leaving active duty or the Selected Reserve, who have fulfilled their MSO, and are eligible for and wish to be a part of the Ready Reserve

What are the obligations of IRR members?

Members of the IRR need to be immediately available for mobilization. Upon activation, members have between 5 and 15 days’ notice to report for active duty. In addition, all IRR members are required to participate in their branch of service’s annual screening process. Also, according to regulation, all members may be required to serve up to 30 days of active duty (AD) each year.

Do members of the IRR receive pay for their service?

Some members do receive pay. There are three different types of pay programs:

Voluntary Separation Incentive: payments are made on an annual basis, for an established number of years, contingent on the member’s continued membership in the IRR or another Reserve component.

Special Separation Benefit: requires the member to serve in the IRR or other part of the Ready Reserve for at least three years after one’s MSO has been fulfilled.

Separation Pay Program: requires the member to serve in the IRR or other part of the Ready Reserve for at least three years after one’s MSO has been fulfilled.

Receiving pay as a member of the IRR does not change one’s right to request delay or exemption from active duty, request a discharge, etc.

Those members of the IRR who are called to active duty are paid for their active duty service.

When are IRR members subject to the UCMJ?

Members of the IRR are only subject to the UCMJ under the following circumstances:

If called to active duty (AD). In the Navy, and potentially in other branches as well, this means that from the moment one leaves home, enroute to report for active duty, one is subject to the UCMJ.

While on inactive duty training (IDT), including muster duty.

If made the subject of Article 15 or Article 30 proceedings, and called to active duty for the purpose of dealing with these proceedings (e.g. trial by court-martial).

Annual screening

Annual screening for IRR members happens either with a questionnaire sent through the mail, or through muster duty. Muster duty involves reporting to a military installation for up to one day of service, during which time the military gets up to date on each member’s “physical condition, dependency status, military qualifications, civilian occupational skills, availability for service, and other information.” IRR members may be involuntarily called to report to muster duty; it is considered to be inactive duty training (IDT).

In addition to the annual screening, according to DoDD 1235.13, every IRR member is to be given a physical fitness exam once every five years.

Unsatisfactory Participation in the IRR

Members of the IRR have two main requirements: the obligation to respond via mail to the annual screening questionnaire and/or report for muster duty; and to keep the military informed of any change in address, marital or dependent status, civilian employment or physical condition that occurs in between annual screenings. If a member fails to meet these two requirements, s/he could be declared an unsatisfactory participant.

If an IRR member who has NOT completed her/his MSO is declared an unsatisfactory participant, the servicemember faces one of three consequences:

Involuntary call to active duty training (ADT) for a period not to exceed 45 days

Transfer to the Standby Reserve or retained in the IRR if the branch of service determines the member “still possesses the potential for useful service if mobilized,” with a tentative OTH characterization to be given at the end of one’s MSO

Discharge for Unsatisfactory Participation (usually resulting in an OTH) if the branch of service determines the member has “no potential for useful service if mobilized.”

If an IRR member who has completed her/his MSO is declared an unsatisfactory participant, s/he will be processed for a discharge (unless the person applies for a transfer to the Standby or Retired Reserve).

Selected regulations pertinent to members of the IRR:

DoD Directive 1200.7, Screening the Ready Reserve, November 18, 1999, Certified current as of November 21, 2003

DoD Instruction 1215.18, Reserve Component Member Participation Requirements, July 17, 2002

DoD Directive 1235.13, Management of the Individual Ready Reserve (IRR) and the Inactive National Guard (ING), July 16, 2005

DoD Instruction 1235.14, Administration and Management of the Individual Ready Reserve (IRR) and the Inactive National Guard (ING), October 31, 1997

PDF version: Individual Ready Reserves Memo

The Presidio Mutiny

by Randy Rowland

Presidio Mutiny (October 28, 1968) — Sit-down strike of 27 prisoners at the Presidio Stockade over the killing of a prisoner by a guard. They were charged with Mutiny, a capital offense. (From GI Special 4A16)

The San Francisco newspaper merely reported that a prisoner at the Presidio Stockade had been shot and killed by a guard. It was Friday, October 11th, 1968. Knowing that I would most likely end up in the stockade the next day, I was asked to investigate what was going on inside, and report it to the anti-war movement.

Saturday a massive demonstration was to be held in San Francisco: “GIs and Vets march for peace.” 10,000 or more people would march in the demo. Four of us, AWOL from the military, were to turn ourselves in to military authorities at the end of the march.

The Brass, worried about the growing GI anti-war movement, tried to prevent active duty GIs from going to the demo through harassment and blatantly restricting whole units to base for the weekend. In spite of this, many GIs and vets marched in the demonstration. Afterwards there was a small ceremony at the gates to the Presidio Army Base and I stepped over the line, into the custody of the awaiting MPs. I had been on orders to go to Vietnam (a common unofficial punishment for having applied for noncombatant status). On the advice of my lawyer, I had gone AWOL to avoid shipment. I hadn’t been on a military base in over 3 months. I was nervous-word on the street was that there was a lot of brutality going on in the stockade.

Much to my surprise, the military authorities decided to put me in a holding company instead of confining me in the stockade. By now it was early evening, and I tried to think of how to deal with this unexpected development. I couldn’t find out what was going on in the stockade if I wasn’t in it. The Sergeant on duty in the orderly room was the kind of guy all the jokes about military mentality are based on. I walked in and announced “I’m refusing to sweep this floor on grounds of conscience!” It didn’t occur to the Sarge that nobody had asked me to do anything. He immediately found a broom and thrust it in my face growling, “I’m giving you an order to sweep this floor, and I don’t want lip, just assholes and elbows.” I wouldn’t take the broom. His face was a study in self-righteous determination as he handcuffed me to a chair. Half hour later, I found myself in the Presidio Stockade.

It didn’t take long to hear the story of how the guard had shotgunned a prisoner at close range, how there had been a riot on Friday night in response to the murder. The prisoners were angry, and wanted to escalate the struggle. I found Keith Mather, one of the “Nine for Peace,” GIs who had chained themselves to clergymen in a San Francisco church in protest to the war. He and I and a few others started going around talking to prisoners calling for a meeting later at night in the cellblock. People debated the options hotly and finally agreed on a sit-down demonstration in the stockade yard on Monday morning. We drew up a list of demands, including investigations into the murder of the prisoner, protests against stockade conditions, opposition to the war and racist harassment of Blacks. I passed a copy of the list to my lawyer Sunday morning and reported back that he would set up support on the outside. We spent the rest of the weekend debating each other and the rest of the prisoners about why it was important to do the action, how important it was to connect with the civilian movement, and what the likely consequences of our protest would be.

Monday, October 14th, 1968 was a cool but clear day. The inmates stood tensely in morning formation. None of us was sure if anyone else would do it. But on cue 27 of us broke ranks and walked over to a grassy spot in the yard, singing “We Shall Overcome.” We sat down, linked arms and continued to sing. The Sgt. in charge was yelling. Moments later the Commandant arrived and tried to order us to return to the formation. We sang louder. He tried to read us the articles of mutiny. We drowned him out, pouring our souls into the song. Walter Polowski, who had agreed to be our spokesman, stood up and read the list of grievances and demands. When the Brass tried to speak, we burst into song again.

A CID photographer came into the compound and began taking our photos for “evidence.” We knew the penalty for mutiny was death, but in a wildly elated way we didn’t care. We were going up against the motherfuckers, we were taking our stand. They brought firemen up to squirt us with their hoses, but the firemen refused to do it. We kept singing. They brought in a company of MPs with riot gear and gas masks. We feared the worst, but kept singing. Finally the MPs moved in and picked us up one at a time and carried us back into the cells. The demonstration was over, but the storms were only about to begin. We were charged with mutiny, the most serious military offense. As the Regulations put it, “there is no maximum sentence.” The reason mutiny is considered so serious is that not only is it going up against the Brass, it is done in concert with others.

The image of GIs facing the electric chair for singing “We Shall Overcome” sent a shock wave through the community. And after the first several mutineers to be tried got 14, 15, and 16 years each, there was a national uproar which contributed greatly to the general disillusionment about the system that was growing throughout the land and especially within the ranks of the military. Once again, the Brass, in raising their hand to beat us down, punched themselves in the eye.

Asked later why he had approved such harsh charges and treatment against a peaceful demonstration, the Commander of the 6th Army replied “We thought the revolution was starting, and we were trying to crush it.” The Presidio 27 Mutiny was one of the early big acts of resistance in the military. By 1971, even by Pentagon admission, the U.S. Army had degenerated to the point where it was unreliable. GIs had decided that it wasn’t our war and no amount of oppression could crush our movement.

By spring of 1970 the Presidio case had gotten so much publicity and there was such a “Free the Presidio 27” movement that the Brass must have decided to cut their losses. All of us were released within a short time of each other. After a year and a half of imprisonment, the gates of Leavenworth swung closed behind me. I was wearing my car coat that every prisoner gets when they leave. I had my bus ticket, $25, and a letter ordering me never to step on a whole list of military bases again. I had done time with military resisters from bases all over the world, all of us concentrated in Leavenworth.

Twenty years later, I met a couple of the 27 for the first time since we all were in prison together. One of them, John Colip, remarked, “I don’t think too much about all the things they did to us, I think about all we did to them. You know what I remember best about those times? We were incorrigible!” The Presidio Mutiny was very much representative of the GI movement. We were mainly working class youth, politicized by what was going on in the world, with our view of America-the-Unbeautiful clarified by the war, the military, and the brutality and outright torture we experienced behind bars. They tried hard to break us, but the only break was with them. Like so many GIs during that time, we really felt that we had nothing to lose, and nothing in common with them or their society. Through it all we kept our spirits, kept our unity, and not only didn’t we ever repent, we went out of our way to keep messing with them.