Retired military subject to involuntary recall?

I just read a story that indicated that the military may recall retired and discharged (is there a difference?) troops to help meet the needs of the ongoing efforts in Iraq and Afghanastan.

Are all ex-military personnel (aside, I would presume, from dishonorable or the like discharged personnel) subject to recall at any time? I was under the assumption that once you fulfilled your duty, you were done.

What limits are there to this recall? Could they (hypothetically – although they’d never do it of course) even call up WWII vets?

Zev Steinhardt

An ex-boss of mine was retired from the Army. He said that he was on the “retired list” and could be called back to active duty in the event of a national emergency. From his description, he hadn’t retired in the sense that most people are used to, more like he was on extended leave.

When I left the Army after completing my enlistment, I spent a few years in the Individual Ready Reserve until my 6 year service commitment had been completed. I didn’t have to attend reserve drills or anything, but I was subject to recall in the event of a national emergency. They mailed me my honorable discharge certificate after the 6 years had elapsed.

When I read “Word of Honor” by Nelson DeMille, a key plot element was that an officer is never really retired or discharged from the military. This was well before the internet was ubiquitous but some dilligent reasearch in an actual paper infested library indicated that this was true. On the other hand enlisted men are discharged from the armed forces and cannot be forced to re-join. Sorry to lack citations, but as I said this was a long time ago.

Discharge: you can be discharged after only one hitch.
Retired: retirement is after 20 years of service

A retiree is eligible for recall up until 30 years of service would have been accrued. I “retired” with 23 years in the Navy. What the document actually says is that I was “transferred to the Fleet Reserve”.

Seven years later, when I hit what would have been 30 years of service, I received a document from the Dept. of The Navy telling me that I was now officially retired. That means that they won’t call on me to return to duty (hah! As if they could get me to do so anyway).

So the answer to your WWII question is “no”.

It’s usually a couple of years that they can go back and call you up. It’s usually referred to as Inactive reserve.

Silly me. I would have assumed that if you signed up for six years that you served all six years. I didn’t realize that you could complete your enlistment but yet still be committed on “reserve” for X number of years.

Thanks for the info. mks57. So, how does one get on the “Individual Ready Reserve?” And how is a discharged (which, I take it from your post you are and cannot be recalled [is that even correct?] and retired, as your ex-boss was and subject to recall at any time?

Zev Steinhardt

I don’t have the time to search for it right now, but there was a thread about the IRR a few weeks ago.

While I empathize, it’s not like the Army is just calling people out of the blue- these are soldiers that signed a contract of duration X years and, while they are no longer on active or Reserve duty, they are still under contract.

It’s pretty much just that simple.

And yes, before anyone asks, my IRR status ended 06/2002, eight years after I signed my contract with the Marine Corps, and two years after I had left the Reserves.

Looks like a lot of my questions were answered while I was composing the last reply.

Thanks, everyone.

Zev Steinhardt

I enlisted for three years. Somewhere in the fine print it says that you are agreeing to a six year service commitment. If your term of active duty is less than six years, you are placed in the Individual Ready Reserve for the balance of the six years. I didn’t find out about it until I was being processed out of the Army and they mentioned that we shouldn’t expect to get our honorable discharge certificates until the six years had passed. Plus I think my final orders said that I was being transferred to the Individual Ready Reserve.


The table matrix on the page is interesting. We are at full mobilization, with only retirees, standby reserve and the general population (draft?) remaining for our limited engagements in Iraq and Afghanistan. Seems kinda strange that a country of almost 300 million has effectively exhausted its military support system.

Do you get paid while being on IRR?

Really not, no, you do not get paid while in the IRR. You are required to inform your previous unit/post of your location (home add’y) and ISTR something about maintaining physical fitness, but maybe not.

If you are called up, of course, you are no longer Inactive and would thus get paid for your time on duty.

Do you have a cite for the US being at full mobilization? According to that site and other sites, full mobilization takes an act of Congress, not just a Presidential order. I know reservists who haven’t been mobilized, and don’t expect to be. I thought we were still at “Presidential Reserve Callup” or whatever PRC stands for.


Didn’t the President Truman compulsorily recall a heap of retired officers during the Korean War? I think they were listed as non-active reserve officers at that time.

Someone more knowledgeable might have more accurate info - I have a habit of getting the details garbled. :smack:

Yes, during the Korean War, the Truman administration called up the IRR so that the National Guard and the Army Reserve would still be available in case a ‘real war’ broke out in Europe. A remarkably raw deal for those involved.

I am a retired regular Army officer. As I understand it, I am liable for call up for the rest of my life. I do not loose sleep over it.

Typically, when you enlist you sign on for a period of Active Duty, which is the normal uniform-wearing-getting-deployed military; and also a period of Inactive Reserve, which is just like being a civilian in the draft. You go about your daily life, but they can call you back at any time.

In-between Active Duty and Inactive Reserve are the Active Reserve - those are the ones who go one weekend a month, etc.

During outprocessing, I was told that Congress can call all prior service in an emergency. This was explained to me during my exit interview with a Sergeant Major trying to con me into joining the IRR (I had already met my six year commitment). His argument was that since I could be called back anyway, I should stay in the IRR to ensure that I would hold onto my rank, E-6. This was back in 1984, and he could have been lying, or rules may have changed since then. For some strange reason, I declined his offer.

The link I provided was a military link. The table matrix shows IRR under full mobilization. It seems to me if the military is in an IRR callup and according to the military’s own callup matrix we must be at full mobilization to do so, one would think we are already there. That same table does cite the US Code authorization. One would think reading up on that and comparing it to the Congressional authority would provide you with the answer you seek.

I’m sorry I didn’t jump through all the hoops for you. :smack:

I’ll try and do better next time.

This is a major issue for people on the Individual ready reserve today. Congress authorised a call-up of up to 6500 IIRists in 2001, but the Pentagon is now making plans to implement it. Here’s an article that explains many of the details

It made some interesting and surprising statements, like this one (the last paragraph of the article): At that point some Army recruiters caused a controversy when they contacted members of the Individual Ready Reserve and suggested they would wind up in Iraq unless they joined a Reserve or Guard unit. Some complained that they were being coerced to transfer into a Reserve unit.