those damn hippies?
October 4, 2004 1:46 PM   Subscribe

Dodging the draft call up? Fewer than two-thirds of the former soldiers being reactivated for duty in Iraq and elsewhere have reported on time, prompting the Army to threaten some with punishment for desertion. The former soldiers, part of what is known as the Individual Ready Reserve (IRR), are being recalled to fill shortages in skills needed for the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan.
posted by amberglow (11 comments total)
Years ago, a guy some of you might recall if you know a bit about history, stated in his memoirs that if you oppose a war your country is involved in, you are deemed a terrible person, a traitor, unworthy. That guy opposed the American incursion into Mexico. But later, he led all of the Northern troops into war against the Confederacy: General Grant. He like H.D. Thoreau thought that particular war was a huge error and should never have been fought.
posted by Postroad at 2:18 PM on October 4, 2004

When a person initially enlists in the military it is for a period of eight years. X number of years on active duty and the remainder as a member of the IRR. In the IRR, you do not have to show up for training. You don't have to meet any standards, all you have to do to fulfill the remainder of your contract is to show up for duty if you are called back.

When I enlisted, the requirements of the IRR were made plain to me, and I heard them explaining this to other people. If you do not show up when called back you are deserting. The military has every right to try them.

If they do not agree with the Iraq War, and I cannot blame them, they should report as ordered and try to get out on the basis of being a Conscientious Objector. They knew going to war was a possibility when they enlisted. They signed a contract. They were not tricked.
posted by Apoch at 3:03 PM on October 4, 2004

"Unless, of course, war were declared."


"What's that?"

"War were declared."
posted by jon_kill at 3:43 PM on October 4, 2004

mmmm. perhaps they should not report for the length of time the President can not account for his term of service? dunno, just a thought. As far as getting CO status, it is near impossible to do so from what I have heard, doubly so if you are already a member of the service. We are all culpable for our actions and the phase "i was only following orders" has some pretty heavy baggage. So my sympathies lie mainly with those who don't wish to fight in Iraq, but are willing to defend the US. An illegal war is an illegal war.
posted by edgeways at 6:28 PM on October 4, 2004

Speaking of which, from right near my home town...

Doctor, 67, Gets Marching Orders
posted by alumshubby at 6:37 PM on October 4, 2004

The USA Today? Best of the web is dead.
posted by Dennis Murphy at 8:56 PM on October 4, 2004

Doctrinally, use of the IRR in this way makes a great deal of sense, in tune with the philosophy of the volunteer army. In Vietnam, by contrast, the political choices made by the Johnson administration forced them into a draft, which put thousands of green troops on the ground seemingly days after call-up. The book We Were Soldiers Once And Young documents the first major deployment to Vietnam, of the then-experimental air mobile cavalry. Units which had spent months training in the unfamiliar methods of chopper-based infantry movement were stripped, in country, of experienced members who were short-timers. The billets were generally filled with capable men who simply had no training in the new methods; lieutenants were told to shut up and listen to their sergeants, because the NCOs knew how things were supposed to work and they didn't. In a few key ways this factored into the problems the unit faced in its harrowing days-long battle with crack NVA troops. Ultimately the draft put this maxim to the ultimate test.

The IRR is supposed to be a way of completing units short of experienced personnel so that their readiness does not suffer. Doctrinally, it maximizes the philosophy of the volunteer army, and individual soldiers should know that they may be called up in this way; it's not exactly a surprise.

We shouldn't make the mistake of assuming no-shows are conscientious objectors or politically opposed to the war. (Few have said as much in the news stories I've read.) They're probably, in aggregate, simply tired of extended deployments and angry that they've lost the lottery. No doubt they earned their time off. What the problems with this call-up indicate is the cracks in the IRR system as it's stretched to the limit. The administration, in contrast to LBJ, is unlikely to institute a draft in the near future. But they are going to maximize the use of already-committed soldiers. Naturally, this is going to impact recruitment for volunteers in the first place, if they feel they may be given higher-tempo duty assignments and multiple call-ups to combat zones. Especially now that "major combat operations" have clearly resumed.

Another doctor called up, to Iraq, not long after returning from Afghanistan. This one isn't an IRR case (active reserve, rather), but he is a guy I knew in my own childhood.
posted by dhartung at 10:49 PM on October 4, 2004

Can an actual draft be far behind this back door draft?

And Dennis, if you don't like this thread please leave without reading it and most especially don't deposit your stool.
posted by nofundy at 5:16 AM on October 5, 2004

Just get a rich, influencial father, fail to show up for a medical then get some sort of transfer before disappearing completely for a while. One day you could be president.
posted by krisjohn at 6:45 AM on October 5, 2004

Isn't this just a *tad* overblown? Do the math.

1,662 were recalled. Of those, 1,038 showed up on time, leaving 624 who didn't. Of those who failed to report on time, 500 claimed "health or personal reasons", which would need to be evaluated anyway, making them late. (I would also like to mention that health and personal reasons are often legitimate, not just shirking.)

This leaves 124, who didn't show up on time *and* didn't have a note from their mother. About 7.5%

This does not impress me as a "crisis." If I am incorrect, please show me how.
posted by kablam at 5:42 PM on October 5, 2004

Hackworth: Uncle Sam Will Soon Want Your Kids
posted by homunculus at 10:15 PM on October 5, 2004

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