04/06/2006 08:40 pm ET Updated May 25, 2011

Backdoor Draft Blowing In

Why hasn't there been any press coverage of the Army's plans to ditch the Individual Ready Reserve in favor of a new "Individual Warriors" program that keeps soldiers on call after they've completed their active-duty requirements? According to the Army News Service:

[T]he new name will lead to a cultural shift away from the unstructured group of inactive individuals into a cohesive group of Soldiers who are trained, aware and ready to augment Army missions when called upon.

"While the mission of the IRR is to provide a pool of previously trained Soldiers who are 'individually ready' for call-up, our culture and past management of the IRR has made it difficult for many to accept that call-ups will become common practice," said Maj. Nadine Kokolis, a mobilization officer in the Army's G-1. [Emphasis added]

DailyKos diarist oregon guy "translates" the army-speak about changing the IRR into something that "resembles a personnel pool for the Active Reserve Component":

We're changing the IRR into something that looks a lot like the Reserve because the Reserve is running on fumes. Yeah, it isn't the IRR because the IRR as you have known it is going to cease to exist. Instead every knucklehead who signs on the dotted line is signing up for a full EIGHT YEARS, minimum, unless we can find a way to fuck with that as well.

What this means is that the first recruits to have signed on now that they have changed the enlistment contracts for those nifty 1- 1/2 year contracts will be ETSing [ETS means Expiration Term of Service] during fiscal year 2007. But not so many -- 5,000. Eventually the Army hopes to have 60,000 in the program. This is down from 100,000 currently in the IRR, but this is in part because about 40% of IRR enrollees are either non-deployable because the Army or someone else broke 'em or are skilled at not being found when looked for.

How is this different from the current system? "Right now every Soldier who joins the Army enlists for an eight-year commitment, with X years on active duty. If s/he volunteers to join the Guard or Reserves at his/her termination of service date, that goes toward the eight years. Otherwise, s/he is enrolled in the Inactive Ready Reserve, which has historically meant nothing. In the past four years, the Army has started pulling personnel with critical skills out of the IRR, retraining them, and deploying them. This is the famous 'backdoor draft'."

Thanks to The News Blog for the tip.