A Checklist for Questioning IRR recall and Stop Loss


This is a follow up on my previous Special Report on Stop Loss and Recall of the IRR continuing under the Obama administration as long as Bush appointee Robert Gates is at the Defense Depar18398831_240x180tment to continue bad habits instituted at the Pentagon by Donald Rumsfeld. With the guidance and assistance of lawyers across the nation who have become experienced at handling legal and constitutional questions related to enlistment under false pretense (meaning military recruiters lied  you into joining the Army or Marines), On February 3, 2009, Courage to Resist created a downloadable checklist in .pdf format [PDF leaflet link HERE] as a tool to use in making an informed decision regarding alternatives available to oppose and resist recall or comply.

Make sure to download your IRR checklist in .pdf format HERE!

       Some links and stories provided by Courage to Resist, I have no intention of repeating here or endorsing or opposing, that said, I make it personal writing style to not quote (anonymous) sources nor articulate other peoples reasons for resisting recall, Stop Loss, or why they passionately or reluctantly complied. That has never been my intent in covering this story. My intentions are that when any reliable source provides links to valuable legal and related alternatives to downright AWOL, since the GWOT is not a National Emergency or War for our survival as a nation – desertion remains quite debatable, just ask the last Commander-In-Chief      I personally believe those sources of informed data must be made available to anyone thinking about waivers from the IRR or outright resisting or just having the ability to QUESTION FOR THEMSELVES what they have decided to do. It’s an individual’s  decision to put their foot down and demand that Stop Loss be made an illegal administrative excuse for avoiding THE DRAFT, and that recalling combat Veterans because recruitment and retention is down is not just bullshit, but immoral, unethical, and downright shameful.


     That said there is two sides of every debate, even if one side claims there is no controversy or issue, and I don’t mean those who claim there is with IRR recall and Stop Loss. What really makes no sense is why this is an issue at all when the Pentagon claims there is no full scale mobilization of the IRR and that the number of those failing to stay in touch with the Army or Marines is miniscule to the number gleefully and proudly waiting out their enlistment commitments? The arguments made by Colonels and Generals, BTW from the military recruitment career field I must say, strengthen instead of rebut claims of those that use of the IRR and Stop Loss is not only unethical but unnecessary. Every word uttered by Pentagon spokespersons uniformed or not, is to the point what they are required to say true or not. Question is what facts or date do they have or those who resist have to base their stands?


      For this reason I’ll provide the Pentagon’s view in tidbits that directly challenge what those with Courage to Resist, legal professionals, and their allies (MFSO comes to mind) have to say. Put another way, DOD’s position on this is not surprising, it’s coming from those most responsible for filling enlistment quotas, and have an attitude of what’s the problem? What is there to resist? It is almost a decade old strategy used from all political points on the compass to downplay the issue (PTSD comes to mind) in order to make it GO AWAY!


Robert L. Hanafin

Major, U.S. Air Force-Retired


backgroundThis warrants repeating, the Individual Ready Reserve (IRR), sometimes called the Inactive Ready Reserve, or as we called it back in the day, the STANDY RESERVE is composed of former military personnel who still have time remaining on their enlistment agreements but have returned to civilian life. They are eligible to be called up in "states of emergency". In fact, a decent analogy would be (me), retired members of the Armed Forces are placed in a similar standby status with all the same requirements of keeping the Pentagon informed of our whereabouts. The only difference is that one group of standby reservists is much younger than the other (ME) thus more vulnerable to the desperate need to fill quotas and experience shortfalls. Well that’s quite debatable, if the argument is to fill experience and skill level shortfalls (instead of the reality of needing more strong, healthy, grunts to pull triggers and break down doors) then it would make more sense to focus on recalling ME.  Given that reality, it would be interesting to compare the number of military retirees recalled to active duty based on our experience to the number of much younger ground troops needed for combat. My argument is poor health and age aside (or maybe not heck a 70 something Doc volunteered to go back on active duty is that a publicity stunt or is the Army or Marines that hard up for doctors? On balance is a 70 something year old Doc as sharp as a 50 something or 60 something, more to the argument that retirees should be “involuntarily” recalled to fill experience shortfalls, heck many would report gleefully. I’d frankly put in a waiver for Bi-Polar and cheer my fellow retirees on. Feedback I get is that most Military Retirees, especially those from the officer corps would passionately jump at the opportunity to play a combat role in Iraq or Afghanistan. No shit! Our government should put more focus on recalling the most experienced senior NCOS and Field Grade officers in combat MOS’s or Marine equivalents, and putting more Airmen and Sailors on the ground than on young Corporals and Sergeants who have seen the elephant. (Don’t ask me why but “seen the elephant” was a term used to describe American civil war vets or both sides who had seen combat for the first time then became immune or numb to it). But that’s another expose put out there for someone else to delve into.

 More to the point, and despite the recent inauguration of a so-called “anti-war” president, opponents of the continued occupation of Iraq and escalation of the GWOT into Afghanistan and beyond claim that the Army is currently undertaking the largest IRR recall since 2004.

(Note: Courage to Resist needs to provide factual documentation on this; I frankly could not find any evidence on-line that the Pentagon was undertaking the largest IRR recall since 2004. I noted the Marines calling up a few thousand maybe under 2000 [see link below] back in 2007, but there’s nothing documented on any major IRR recalls now. In fact, in all fairness I found more documentation somewhat supporting the Pentagon rebuttals, not that I concur, but at least I found them???).

         That said, I do not doubt that the Pentagon is about to undertake the largest IRR recall since 2004 in order to maintain deployment tempo under the Obama administration even before than administration and friends in Congress take any serious efforts or action to get out of Iraq. Don’t hold your breath of even think you will not be recalled or placed on Stop Loss. I just couldn’t find any evidence of such mobilizations and that supports Pentagon claims that there is none. However, mobilizations are not at issue here but voluntary versus involuntary AFTER combat time and experience has been served.

      General Byrne added“Today, we have almost 72,000 soldiers in the IRR, with approximately 6,500 of them on active duty,” . The Army expects IRR soldiers will serve in duty positions when called upon. But, he said there is a formal process for requesting a delay or exemption, if an injury, illness, or extenuating circumstance prevents the soldier’s return to active duty.

          The Pentagon in line with the former Bush administration and even enough Democrats in Congress, and including President Obama, have maintained and retained the politically correct selling point that the Global War on Terror is a threat to our national interests and security. However, at the same time when the issue of shared national sacrifice or THE DRAFT is placed on the table from whichever end of the political spectrum (well from center to right of center) our national leaders make the counter-productive argument that really hurts that selling point. They are quick to reassure the American sheeple and of course those who continue to volunteer and volunteer, then volunteer again, that our nation is neither in a fight or our national survival or a national emergency requiring THE DRAFT as long as the Pentagon can scrape the bottom of the barrel every way possible to avoid NATIONAL COMMITMENT???

      Thank God, however, over the last seven years however, thousands of IRR soldiers and Marines have agreed with this counter-productive assessment of our national leadership that well 0.1% of American is at war per se, while not being a national emergency as such the other 99% can focus on more pressing problems like THE ECONOMY that supposedly has no relationship to WARs we fail to really pay for (except by loans we can’t afford to pay back), account for or worse yet punish those who cannot account for the billions wasted on War that supposedly has to impact on our economy. I join those regardless of age or what they have to lose or not lose in questioning this "emergency," this Global War on Terror that only volunteers are expected to not only sacrifice to the nation for, but the Pentagon wants every ounce of blood out of. Bullshit! Had Soldiers and Marines been told on get go that they are committed to six or whatever years or at least keep them on active duty that long without false impression they are veterans or civilians, I would not passionately oppose lying to recruits.

       Let’s run an exercise to make my point. What would be the national and especially Pentagon reaction IF pro-Peace groups focused on the most successful military recruitment centers and venues not to per se do counter or anti-military recruitment activities but with signs reminding potential recruits that YOU MAY BE SIGNING UP FOR SIX YEARS REGARDLESS WHAT THE RECRUITER TELLS YOU, or YOU ARE GUARANTEED TWO TO FOUR TOURS TO IRAQ OR AFGHANISTAN OVER THE NEXT SIX YEARS REGARDLESS WHAT THE RECRUITER TELLS YOU. Better yet, TERMS OF YOUR CONTRACT ARE SUBJECT TO CHANGE AT THE POLITICAL WHIMS OF YOUR GOVERNMENT THAT MILITARY RECRUITERS HAVE NO CONTROL OVER that at least nobly leaves the lying military recruiter off the hook.

       Anyway, truth in advertising, and truth in contracts one is signing with the military aside, a growing number of those who know they’ve been had or lied to by recruiters just as WWII, Korean War, and Vietnam Military Retirees were lied to when they enlisted or accepted their commissions, intelligent troops today have simply refused and ignored involuntary activation—without any real consequences. Even Pentagon rebuttals admit that the problem is so miniscule that it’s not worth the waste of tax payer dollars to administratively let alone legally contest those they cannot find.

      Col. Wanda Good, commander of the St. Louis branch of the U.S. Army Human Resources Command, discussed the process for mobilizing soldiers under the IRR program during a teleconference with (Pentagon screened as in AmericaSupportBush.mil) bloggers and online journalists back in September 2008 (thus the propaganda value of 911) prior to the outcome of the November elections. She downplayed the failure of IRR members to report as insignificant to the overall IRR pool and that the number of those discharged for failure to report was miniscule compared to the vast number who does, and lastly only 4 percent of those failing to report (or 425 cases) are still pending. She fails to articulate what kind of 2nd Reserve discharges from the IRR troops are getting for failure to report after they’ve already received an Honorable discharge from active duty. Nor does she articulate how aggressively the Army is going after those who have identified their intent not to report. Point: each of the 425 cases in question would have had to acknowledge receipt of IRR order to report in order to be charged with not reporting, what about those who are administratively listed as DOD failure to contact? That’s quite another issue that could get expensive should the Pentagon enforce it.

     Colonel Good noted that “Another myth is the belief that vast numbers of IRR soldiers are failing to report to mobilization stations as ordered. We’ve had 779 cases of IRR soldiers failing to report as ordered to their mobilization stations,” she said. We’ve discharged 354 of them for failure to report, and we have 425 cases still under investigation. So, if you calculate those numbers, that’s 779 out of 20,000, soldiers. That’s only 4 percent.” Put another way, when only 4% are questioning recall such a small percentage is not worth it when the Army is meeting its overall needs during a time when there is no national emergency. If the Global War on Terror was a war for America’s survival, or even anywhere near a national emergency requiring THE DRAFT, then my personal feeling is both the Army and Marines would be much more serious and aggressive about punishing those it cannot find. Just my opinions NOT advise. Major Hanafin.

      Since the Sept. 11 terror attacks, (not her emphasis on 911 as a focal point in a war that IS NOT a national emergency) about 20,000 IRR soldiers have been mobilized for the global war on terror, Colonel Good noted that 2,218 Retired Reserve soldiers have volunteered to return to active duty; 384 of them have served in Iraq, and 122 of them have served in Afghanistan. This leads to an interesting and very important question. How come Retired Reserve (ME) are given the option to really no shit VOLUNTEER, and yet technically because troops have been mislead into signing up for six years they can be INVOLUNTARILY recalled even if the number are insignificant. Frankly, given the insignificant number, then why have to involuntarily recall any IRR members? The Colonel highlights that the vast majority are showing up gleefully.  

         To those who preached the THEY VOLUNTEERED for what they got themselves into, I say that even the Pentagon admits that IRR members have been misled (or misconceptions is the bureaucratic term) is the word the General in charge of filling quotas prefers to use instead of recruits being lied to by military recruiters. Well there’s a quick fix to ensure future recruits are not mislead, and we’ll get to that shortly.

         News reports suggesting that injured former soldiers (PTSD comes to mine) are being called back to active duty and confusion over what the Individual Ready Reserve is have resulted in misconceptions, a senior Army personnel officer said May 9, 2008.  Maj. Gen. Sean Byrne, commander of U.S. Army Human Resources Command, said during a teleconference with (Pentagon screened as in AmericaSupportBush.mil) online journalists and “bloggers” a few months before he put his Colonel out there (March 9, 2008) said that, “Many people seem unaware of the purpose of the Army Individual Ready Reserve and its obligations, Maj. Gen. Sean Byrne, commander of U.S. Army Human Resources Command, said during a teleconference with (Pentagon screened as in AmericaSupportBush.mil) online journalists and “bloggers” March 9, 2008. Thus, the Pentagon has been on the defensive on this way before Courage to Resist made it an issue at all. HUM? Why the need to be so defensive for a war that’s not a national emergency or for survival of our nation.

Here is where one fix could come in, truth in military recruitment with signs in every military recruiting station window that states clearly recruits may be signing up for eight years!

      General Byrne admits that he sees “three main fallacies … associated with IRR soldiers,” First, many do not fully understand the delay or exemption program available to soldiers who receive mobilization orders, he said. Secondly, he said, people seem to believe any soldier in possession of a DD214 form — the official separation document — is completely discharged with no further obligation. [HERE COMES THE PUNCH LINE THAT JUSTIFIES THOSE SIGNS IN MILITARY RECRUITERS WINDOWS OR PRESENTATIONS] Every individual who assumes active duty in the Army automatically incurs an eight-year mandatory service obligation and is made aware of that obligation, Byrne said. With all due respect the General is misleading. By definition military recruitment comes under him, so he has no choice but to mislead the media, bloggers, and so on. . ‘But seemingly widespread unawareness of this obligation accounts for the third misconception,’ he said. In other words, sounds as if he is saying that military recruiters are making it clear to recruits that they are signing up for eight years, and recruits just are either mot smart enough to pay attention or downright did not pay attention and signed up for eight yerars. . Let us see a show of hands, especially among military retirees, who believe the General is either lying or been misled when he should be leading.

      As I said, the quick fix to ensure General Byrne, but more importantly recruits are really clear that they may be signing up for eight years are recruitment posters that say just that. If the Pentagon is unwilling because it prefers not to have truth in advertising or honest military recruitment then it is up to counter-military recruitment efforts in high schools, colleges, and even in front of military recruitment offices to make such signs available! HUM balls in your court.

       “Today, we have almost 72,000 soldiers in the IRR, with approximately 6,500 of them on active duty,” General Byrne added. The Army expects IRR soldiers will serve in duty positions when called upon. But, he said there is a formal process for requesting a delay or exemption, if an injury, illness, or extenuating circumstance prevents the soldier’s return to active duty.

      Gen. Byrne said the IRR’s mobilization orders include a toll-free phone number for soldiers to call to request a delay or exemption from returning to active duty.

“We tell them formally, as we give them mobilization orders, what they need to do if they need a delay [or] exemption,” he said. About half of requests for delays or exemptions are approved, he added. He explained that the requests are reviewed on a case-by-case basis and aren’t subjected to any standard determining factors.

     THE TRUTH BE TOLD: The most common military enlistment is four years active or reserve duty, followed by an additional four years inactive. These “inactive” years are explained to enlistees as just that, “inactive”—just keep your uniforms, military ID card, and notify the military of address changes. Regardless what General Byrne or whoever takes his place says about the honest of military recruitment, there’s nothing honest about it. That said, I believe that IF the Army and Marine corps were upfront and honest that recruits will pull eight years and mean it, they would get the passionate volunteers needed for operations in both Iraq and Afghanistan plus more if need be. The current emergency that allows the Army and Marines to recall IRR members is the open-ended “Global War on Terror” that includes the occupation of both Iraq and Afghanistan. Many enlistees do not fully realize that most enlistments actually cover eight years of their life. As I’ve shown even Generals and Colonels responsible for ensuring military recruiters are clearly telling recruits this admit there is misconceptions and misleading understandings but offer no real solutions because the numbers not reporting for IRR are so small.

       In separate posts, I’ll provide more detailed data on the Pentagon view to ensure potential recruits and families know that the Pentagon wants you to know that your child is signing up for eight years and stop whining when they change their mind or had enough combat. THEY VOLUNTEERED – RIGHT????

Robert L. Hanafin

Major, U.S. Air Force-Retired

Additional Sources Pro, Con, and Who Cares:

Military Recruitment General Addresses Misconceptions About Army Individual Ready Reserve http://www.defenselink.mil/news/newsarticle.aspx?id=49851

If all else fails send forth a Colonel. Note that the Pentagon obvious takes IRR misconceptions serious or some LTC, Major, or Captain would be thrown out to insult the intellect of America’s media.

Military Recruitment Colonel Debunks Individual Ready Reserve Mobilization Myths



Increasing number of Law Firms specializing in IRR recall challenges

Case Study at Meili Law Firm



Marines to Alert 1,800 Individual Ready Reservists for Reactivation -2007


U.S. Army Individual Ready Reserve Has Formal Process for Requesting Delays or Exemptions



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Readers are more than welcome to use the articles I've posted on Veterans Today, I've had to take a break from VT as Veterans Issues and Peace Activism Editor and staff writer due to personal medical reasons in our military family that take away too much time needed to properly express future stories or respond to readers in a timely manner. My association with VT since its founding in 2004 has been a very rewarding experience for me. Retired from both the Air Force and Civil Service. Went in the regular Army at 17 during Vietnam (1968), stayed in the Army Reserve to complete my eight year commitment in 1976. Served in Air Defense Artillery, and a Mechanized Infantry Division (4MID) at Fort Carson, Co. Used the GI Bill to go to college, worked full time at the VA, and non-scholarship Air Force 2-Year ROTC program for prior service military. Commissioned in the Air Force in 1977. Served as a Military Intelligence Officer from 1977 to 1994. Upon retirement I entered retail drugstore management training with Safeway Drugs Stores in California. Retail Sales Management was not my cup of tea, so I applied my former U.S. Civil Service status with the VA to get my foot in the door at the Justice Department, and later Department of the Navy retiring with disability from the Civil Service in 2000. I've been with Veterans Today since the site originated. I'm now on the Editorial Board. I was also on the Editorial Board of Our Troops News Ladder another progressive leaning Veterans and Military Family news clearing house. I remain married for over 45 years. I am both a Vietnam Era and Gulf War Veteran. I served on Okinawa and Fort Carson, Colorado during Vietnam and in the Office of the Air Force Inspector General at Norton AFB, CA during Desert Storm. I retired from the Air Force in 1994 having worked on the Air Staff and Defense Intelligence Agency at the Pentagon.