Resistance to Backdoor Draft
By John Tiffany
Desperate for manpower with which to fight its projected 25-year “war on terrorism” in Iraq and elsewhere, the Bush administration has resorted to several measures just short of military conscription.
One of these is the “Stop Loss Program,” a scheme to force soldiers to remain in the service after their contractual obligation has been fulfilled.
Another idea is to reactivate what is called the Individual Ready Reserve (IRR). But both programs are encountering resistance from the GIs. As reported in The Army Times, about 30 percent of the IRR soldiers who have been called to active duty failed to report for mobilization.
The IRR is a manpower pool in the Ready Reserve. It consists primarily of individuals who have had training and have served previously in the “Active” component or the Selected Reserve and have some period of a military obligation remaining.
IRR soldiers are not part of a reserve unit, do not get paid and do not attend monthly reserve training. These soldiers have completed their active duty enlistment but are within eight years of when they entered the military. They can be recalled to duty if needed.
The Army’s recent call-up of 5,600 soldiers from the IRR emphasizes the
demands the administration’s poor planning has placed on America’s most important military resource—our troops. These soldiers, who have
completed their active duty enlistment but are within eight years of when they entered the military, must now leave their jobs and families behind and mobilize for active duty. Whether there will be more call-ups is anyone’s guess.
Many former soldiers, however, have submitted papers for “delay and exemption” consideration, claiming personal and professional matters are
preventing them from showing up.
CASE IN POINT
A case in point is Master Sgt. Luis Jaime Trevino, 57, who is afflicted with skin cancer, is partially deaf and suffers from high blood pressure. Uncle Sam still wants him mobilized for Operation Iraqi Freedom.
When he got his orders to report to active duty, “I was very shocked,” Trevino said. Though Trevino is willing to serve again, he wonders why the military wants him. “I’m honored to go, but I’m disabled and I’m too old,” he said. “If I do not execute these orders, I go to jail.”
Reservists up to the age of 60 are being activated, said Public Affairs Specialist Julia Collins of the Human Resources Command in St. Louis.
“I know many guys who are in that position,” she said. “It’s not unusual.”
More than 1,000 IRR members submitted “delay and exemption” packets containing documentation verifying their situation. The leading reasons IRR soldiers request delays and exemptions are: medical causes or disabilities; administrative mix-ups; financial hardship; being sole caretaker for children or elderly parents and completing higher education.