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Army makes progress on IRR mobilization

By Sgt. Reeba Critser

WASHINGTON (Army News Service, Oct. 1, 2004) - More than 1,100 Soldiers in the Individual Ready Reserve have reported to duty since the Army received its mobilization authority four months ago.

"The plan discussed in June is working," said Brig. Gen. Sean J. Byrne, director of military personnel policy, G-1, at a Pentagon press conference Oct. 1.

According to that plan, IRR Soldiers receive notice by Western Union mailgrams and have at least 30 days from the time they receive the orders to report. The earliest report date was Aug. 31. Byrne said the Soldiers will serve in Operations Noble Eagle, Enduring Freedom or Iraqi Freedom.

The Army's goal is to have up to 4,402 on duty by March.

The 1,143 IRR Soldiers who have reported so far are mobilized to one of five posts:

o Fort Jackson, S.C.
o Fort Leonard Wood, Mo.
o Fort Sill, Okla.
o Fort Knox, Ky.
o Fort Benning, Ga.

While there, they get their clothing issue and military equipment, receive training in common tasks, and they may go on to another post for MOS-specific refreshers before they're assigned to a Reserve, National Guard or active-duty unit.

By the time they're done with training, "they will be indistinguishable from the active-duty Soldiers they are serving with," Byrne said.

Of the almost 4,000 IRR Soldiers who currently have been issued orders, about half have report dates in October or later.

One of the challenges lies with Soldiers who need delays or exemptions. The Army is working one-on-one with 400 Soldiers whose report dates have passed to resolve their issues, officials said.

As of Sept. 28, only 1,374 of those who have orders have requested a delay or exemption. Of those, the Army has approved 373 and disapproved only 16.

Primary reasons that IRR Soldiers request delays or exemptions, officials said, include:

o medical problems
o higher education attendance
o family care problems
o financial hardships.

"IRR is different from active duty," Byrne said. "We know and understand that. That's why we're working with them individually. We're amenable based on their individual needs. We'll defer the date as needed."

Another challenge lays in finding the IRR Soldier. Human Resources Command-St. Louis is still attempting to contact about 200 Soldiers whose report dates have passed.

"We make every effort to track them down," said Robert H. Smiley, principal assistant for training, readiness and mobilization, Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Manpower and Reserve Affairs. "Some Soldiers have moved three or four times since they got out of active duty."

The Army is still accepting volunteers from the IRR. Since Sept. 11, 2001, Smiley said the Army had 10,000 Soldiers, including many IRR members, volunteer to return to active duty, "but only 1,100 fit the bill" for the Army's needs.

The Army still needs Soldiers in MOSs that include transportation, administration, food service, petroleum supply, various maintenance positions, construction and logistics.

Smiley said the Army is "looking at a similar dip in the IRR pool next year."

As of Sept. 29, 114,000 Soldiers are in the IRR.


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