Tag Archives: Reserves

Structure of the Reserve Forces

By Teresa Panepinto

Each branch of the military has at least one reserve force; they are the Army National Guard, the Army Reserve, the Naval Reserve, the Marine Corps Reserve, the Air National Guard, the Air Force Reserve, and the Coast Guard Reserve.

There are several different kinds of reserve components within each of these branches. Specifically, the Reserve forces of the U.S. military are composed of: The Ready Reserve . Members of the Ready Reserve are liable for active duty service, according to 10 USC §§ 10142, 12301, 12302. The Ready Reserve consists of:

  • Inactive National Guard (ING). This is composed of Army National Guard (NG) personnel who are in an inactive status. While they are attached to a specific NG unit, they do not drill regularly. Please note that the Air National Guard does not have an ING program.
  • Individual Ready Reserve (IRR). IRR members are not assigned to a unit and do not participate in regular drills, but members of the IRR can be involuntarily called to active duty. As the military faces personnel shortfalls, the IRR plays an increasingly important role in the military’s total force strength. The following article discusses the IRR in greater detail.
  • Selected Reserves. Also sometimes called “Drilling Reserves.” Those individuals and units within the Ready Reserve considered to be “so essential to initial wartime missions that they have priority over all other Reserves.” These members receive pay, are required to participate in regular weekend drills (known as inactive duty training – IDT) and annual training, and are considered to be in an active status (which is different from being on active duty). The Selected Reserves consists of:

    § Selected Reserve Units

    § Individual Mobilization Augmentees (IMA’s) . IMA’s train on a part-time basis; their inactive duty training (IDT) is decided by reserve component policy and can vary from 0 to 48 drills a year.

    § Active Guard and Reserve personnel (The majority of Reserve clients that counselors and attorneys work with fall under this category.)

  • The Standby Reserve. Those reserve members liable for active duty only as provided by 10 USC §§ 101511, 12301, 12306. These members are not paid, do not drill regularly, and do not belong to a unit.
  • The Retired Reserve. This is composed of all reserve members who receive retirement pay, and those who are eligible for retirement pay but have not yet reached age 60 and are not members of the Ready or Standby Reserve.

Hell No, We Won’t Stay: Military Reservist Resistance Grows

By Marti Hiken & Kathleen Gilberd

“My husband wants out,” says Martha. “That’s all there is to it. If they won’t let him out, he’ll go AWOL.”

This is a common complaint that military counselors and lawyers hear from GIs, their families and friends. Although the Department of Defense reports that only about 700 GIs have gone absent without leave (AWOL) since the beginning of the current war in Iraq, those involved in counseling and representing GIs know that the number is in the thousands. Dissatisfaction and objection among US troops in this current war has increased steadily, reflected in growing numbers of GI’s seeking discharge or going AWOL. In response, a national network of military counselors formed the GI Rights Hotline to offer information and guidance about discharges, GI rights, and similar issues.

Members of the Hotline include the Central Committee for Conscientious Objectors, the National Lawyers Guild’s Military Law Task Force (MLTF), the Center on Conscience and War (formerly NISBCO), Quaker House, and other local and regional counseling groups. The Hotline was formed in the mid-1990s in response to the changing nature of the US military and its creation of easily-activated military bases throughout the world.

It took peace and anti-war activists six years to organize a resistance to the Vietnam War. During Gulf War I, it took six weeks before we had the military counseling centers up and running. When this Gulf War began in 2002, we were already prepared.

In 2003, the GI Rights Hotline received 30,000 calls. About 15% of those were from GIs seeking Conscientious Objector claims; 30% were from AWOLs; and the rest ran the gamut from discharge information to Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome (PTSS). This year the calls are coming in at a rate of 3,000-4,000 per month, not including calls directly to member organizations of the GI Rights Hotline.

Sample Calls for Counseling

To better understand the nature of our work, it is useful to review the kinds of calls one member group of the Hotline—the Military Law Task Force—receive on a typical day.

For example, a military counselor in Northern California called seeking the name of a lawyer in Kansas. Apparently, MPs and sheriffs in Kansas have found it their duty to seek out AWOL GIs, capture them, stick them in jail, beat them brutally and then ship them back to their units. Presently 25,000 Marines serve in Iraq, and the number going AWOL continues to climb.

A second call follows almost immediately and concerns another Marine, this one AWOL and suicidal in Iowa. Although his psychologist told the soldier’s commanding officer that the soldier intends to kill himself if he has to go back, the commander says he wants him to return immediately, saying he’ll deal with the problem. The counselor says they need a lawyer in Iowa and San Diego. Fortunately, we locate a MLTF lawyer in Iowa and a good counseling group with legal support in San Diego.

The next phone call is from a GI in Alaska who wants to know if Canada is an option. He’s received deployment papers for Iraq. He is connected to a MLTF member in Alaska.

The MLTF received a call from the wife of a reservist just back from Iraq. She reported that her husband suddenly charged into their bedroom thinking that his wife was an Iraqi about to shoot him. Apparently he suffered from PTSS, which can be suffered for years when soldier’s brutal memories are triggered. She was asking us what she should do about it.

Additional calls sought information about disability, AWOL concerns, draft resistance and conscientious objection. There are days in which MLTF receives one telephone call every 15 to 20 minutes.

Reservists and Families Speak Out

Staff Sargent Camilo Mejia is the first soldier known to be tried for desertion after service in combat in the current Iraqi conflict. Although he sought status as a conscientious objector, Camilo was found guilty and sentenced to a year in the brig. In his CO application, he described the conditions of detention and treatment of Iraqi prisoners, including instances where soldiers were directed to “break the detainees’ resolve.” He also described witnessing the killing of civilians, including children.

Nancy Lessin, the founder of Military Family Speaks Out, and a member of the Bring Them Home Now! Campaign, called the MLTF because Camilo is being moved to Fort Sill, Oklahoma. It’s an isolated area, offering little protection for a GI resister. We contacted an NLG lawyer and law students in Oklahoma City. We called Camilo’s family to give them the names of the Oklahoma contacts and then began to coordinate the support system for Camilo before he arrives at Ft. Sill.

Because Camilo is a Costa Rican citizen, born in Nicaragua, we must also call immigration defense lawyers to find out about Camilo’s deportability. He has a green card and is a permanent resident.

Factors Behind Military Resistance

Camilo’s case is perhaps the most reported, but it is far from isolated. The increasing opposition to the US war in Iraq by military personnel arises from many factors, including:

• Access to information critical of the invasion and occupation, including analysis about finding no weapons of mass destruction or evidence of imminent threat;

• Mistreatment of Iraqi civilians and damage to basic living structures;

• Mistreatment of US forces by an overzealous and war-thirsty administration.

As in the past, many GI’s have come to oppose the war in Iraq as a result of their own experiences in it. Men and women deployed to Iraq are reminded daily that they are viewed as part of an army of occupation. Images of US forces as “liberators” have long passed, replaced by graffiti, rocks and bombs intended to repel an unwelcome occupier.

Military personnel also have access to information that contradicts their original marching orders. Mainstream news sources report that no WMDs have been found, despite earlier administration claims. And although the Bush administration has carefully hidden military coffins from media scrutiny, these personnel know the toll this action is taking on the lives, limbs and minds of their fellow soldiers.

News of brutality towards Iraqi citizens and torture of prisoners has shaken many soldiers who previously supported the vision of this war offered by their leaders, despite the incredible barrage of racist ideology and images presented by the Pentagon and American news media.

Other soldiers and sailors have come to question military policy through mistreatment and mismanagement of its own troops. Current military strategy—including commitments to long-term occupations with over 311,000 publicly acknowledged servicemembers deployed in over 120 countries—has led to “manpower” problems and forced troops into lengthy and unwanted duty. “Stop loss” policies allow the military to retain soldiers beyond their regular discharge dates (although early discharges, such as conscientious objection, are generally unaffected). Tours of duty in Iraq are longer than anticipated, and the military has departed from past practice by ordering many combat troops into second and even third tours in combat zones.

Reservists, who reasonably expected that they would be used as reserve forces, have found themselves an integral part of the war from the outset. National Guard members who, with equal reason, thought they had enlisted to help disaster victims or maintain order at home, have been activated and deployed to Iraq.

The Department of Defense reports that 40% of the fighting force in Iraq is comprised of reserve forces. This is not only a “backdoor draft,” it is also a “senior draft.” Reservists tend to be older and have established positions in their communities. As a result of this war, some are losing their businesses. Their families are forced into poverty. Children haven’t seen their parent(s) for months. Tens of thousands become “militarized” by this war.

Another result of mass deployments and the senior draft has been the military’s failure to recognize personal, medical and family problems that make activation or deployment a crisis for many servicemembers and their families. Military counseling groups report that many clients are being sent to Iraq with serious physical or psychiatric problems. For many, this lack of concern for their health, safety and families has led to questions about broader policies and the war itself.

Massive deployments, poor planning, and lack of concern for the troops creates logistical problems as well. Equipment does not always follow the troops; even basic supplies may be inadequate; medical care is unreliable in many areas. When the Army recently examined the disproportionate number of suicides among soldiers in Iraq, it found that insufficient mental health personnel and spotty distribution of anti-depressant medications were a significant part of the problem.

At the same time, the problems of the first Gulf War—use of depleted uranium in tanks and shells and use of questionable vaccines, for example—have not been corrected, so that soldiers face the same likelihood of Gulf War syndrome or undiagnosed physical and neurological problems.

Individual and Collective Dissent

The result of all this is greatly increased frustration and anger within the military. Counselors and attorneys are hearing from growing numbers of conscientious objectors. While public resisters are few, the number of soldiers and sailors going AWOL or seeking discharge continues to grow. Large numbers of GI’s have spoken to reporters or sent home letters expressing their disagreement with the war or their frustration over the conditions in which they are forced to live and fight. To read the latest letters from GIs, go to the websites of Veterans for Peace (www.veteransforpeace.org) or Military Families Speak Out (www.mfso.org).

In many cases, soldiers demonstrate resistance individually rather than in collective action. This is in large part the result of the military’s capacity for harsh retaliation and its frequent refusal to respect these civil liberties available to soldiers. The possibilities of private, and sometimes anonymous complaints and protest over the internet are conducive to individual dissent.

Dissent is still of great value, and it is paralleled by a more collective effort of the families of soldiers who serve or have died in Iraq. For example, Military Families Speak Out has educated many soldiers and civilians about the reality of the war. Over time, collective opposition within the military seems increasingly likely, if it is provided the legal and political support of the anti-war movement. Counseling and educational efforts are essential for servicemembers who are otherwise isolated and vulnerable within the military.

Despite the many challenges faced by networks that counsel soldiers and sailors, these groups continue to educate and guide questioning military personnel through a difficult process. For many military counselors and attorneys, educational work with GI’s, counseling, and support for resistance within the military remain an integral part of anti-war efforts. Soldiers and sailors who speak out against the war or resist combat service are a potent symbol of opposition to the war. Those who seek discharge or go AWOL are a growing obstacle to the military’s smooth functioning.

Marti Hiken and Kathleen Gilberd are co-chairs of the Military Law Task Force of the National Lawyers Guild. Gilberd also works with San Diego Military Counseling Project.

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

IRR Activations

By Marti Hiken
Co-chair NLG Military Law Task Force

Are you in the IRR and received your marching orders for Iraq?

IRR members have been called to active duty throughout the country. The marching orders state that you are headed for Iraq. The military does not have enough troops and has decided that you will fill its needs.

Many of you have simply not shown up and yet, have not had warrants issued to pick you up and have not been arrested. There have been reports from IRR members, however, who have received threatening phone calls and mail from the military, but still were not arrested. There are others of you who do not feel comfortable remaining in this no-man’s land.

The MLTF and GI Rights Hotline continue to receive many calls from Army and Marine IRR enlisted and officer members who have been called up. Here are some things to consider:

  • Do you have a DD 214 in your hands that says you have been discharged? What is the stated basis for the discharge? What obligation were you discharged from? Too often GIs think they are discharged only to discover that they weren’t.
  • For those who were actually discharged, you will need to “document” clearly the reason for the discharge to the military.
  • Have you been discharged, but are still being “held” in the IRR for some reason?
  • Have you previously been discharged and had your orders for discharge revoked? You are in a good position here, and a simple letter to the command might correct the situation.
  • Have you requested delays or exemptions? Are you medically fit or is there a need for you to care for family members? Do you have grounds for financial hardship?
  • If an officer, have you resigned your commission?

Two different viewpoints have been expressed by experienced MLTF members concerning how to deal with this situation. The first viewpoint asserts that nothing happens when IRR members do not report, and as one attorney states, “It is unfortunate that too many IRR members cave. A warrant is not the end of the line, but rather an opportunity to get a discharge from the IRR through turning themselves in at Forts Sill or Knox.” A “bad” discharge from the IRR has no affect on the benefits otherwise accrued.

The second viewpoint urges IRR members to always ask for extensions to delay their reporting dates as long as possible and to have attorneys assist them. One attorney states, “In my experience — just as we experienced with the Selective Service System years ago — the military personnel commands will frequently back off rather than fight over a particular person who effectively (and publicly) resists.”

Resources: DOD Directive 1235.13