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Army Mustering IRR Members
Stars and Stripes  |  By Lisa Burgess  |  March 05, 2008

ARLINGTON, Va. — The Army this week will begin to muster 10,000 Individual Ready Reserve members at locations across the United States.

The muster, which will last through June, is part of a seven-year Army project to reinvigorate the force, Army Human Resources Command spokesman Ray Gall said.

“We’re working on making [the IRR] a viable force that can be deployed as needed,” he said. “We want to get a better handle on how ready these people really are, using these musters.”

IRR members will be paid $190 to attend a muster, which is taxable, Gall said.

The IRR is made up of servicemembers who have left active duty or active reserve service, but still have time left on their eight-year obligation.

The last time the IRR was mobilized on a large scale was during the Gulf War. It then quietly sank to the bottom of the Army’s post Cold War priority list.

But in 2004, stretched thin by a two-front war, the Army announced it intended to issue involuntary mobilization orders to 5,600 IRR members.

With a roster of more than 117,400 troops, this seemed a drop in the bucket, but the process proved painful.

The mobilization process slowed to a crawl as IRR officials discovered that their records were in shambles, Gall said.

Many IRR members had moved without telling the Army. Some IRR members were deceased.

“If a relative didn’t notify us, we still carried them,” Gall said.

And where IRR officials were able to issue mobilization orders, nearly half of the IRR members contacted requested a delay in returning to service, asked to be exempt or simply ignored them.

The truth, Gall said, “was we had a lot of numbers, but not a lot of [genuine] players.”

Army officials realized they had two problems: mobilizing the IRR for war and fixing the system.

About 1,900 IRR members are currently deployed, and another 1,800 IRR members either have or will receive orders between now and Sept. 28, Gall said.

Meanwhile, “over the last three years, we’ve tightened it up,” Gall said of the IRR database.

The roster has been culled to a number that reflects reality, he said: 90,000 members, not 117,400.

“We have a handle on it now,” Gall said.

IRR members are required to keep in touch with the Army annually, but most of them do it using a postcard or a new Web site, Gall said.

But to ensure fewer unpleasant surprises in future mobilizations — like call-ups of dead IRR members — Army officials plan to physically muster no more than 20 percent of “their smiling little faces” each year, Gall said.

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