'the President standby authority'

What is ‘the President standby authority’ and when it is activated?
Thank you.

I can’t find reference to it-Where did you come across the phrase?

Thank you for your instant response. It’s on p. 79 of the book called Essence of Decision, Explaining the Cuban Missile Crisis.

The United States staked its public prestige on the warning. On September 7, Congress granted the president standby authority to call up additional reservists into the armed forces. On September 13, President Kennedy held a press conference and, for the first time, spoke directly to the American people about the Soviet buildup in Cuba.

Thank you.

Translation: Congress granted standby authority to the President.

There is no noun phrase “the president standby authority” that refers to what got granted. “The president” is the object of “granted” – the recipient of what is being granted. “Standby authority” is the noun, the thing that is being granted here.

Ready Reservists - Standby Authority
Senate Joint Resolution 224 — Public Law 87-736, approve October 3, 1962
Congress unanimously approved standby authority until February 28, 1963, for the President to-

Recall up to 150,000 members of the Ready Reserve to active duty for not more than 12 months.

Extend enlistments, appointments, periods of active duty, or obligated periods of training, service, or status for not more than 12 months.

This authority was requested by the President in the following letter:

THE WHITE HOUSE Washington, D.C.
September 7, 1962.

President of the Senate,
Washington, D.C.

Dear Mr. President: I transmit herewith a draft of a proposed bill to authorize the President to order units and members in the Ready Reserve to active duty for not more than 12 months, and for other purposes.

In my judgment this renewed authorization is necessary to permit prompt and effective responses, as necessary, to challenges which may be presented in any part of the free world, and I hope that the Congress will give its prompt support to this authorization, as it did, so effectively, a year ago.


In some respects the authority contained in the resolution is similar to that in Senate Joint resolution 120 of the 87th Congress, which became Public Law 87-117. The principal differences in the authority itself are that the authority extends only until February 28, 1963, and that the number of reservists who may be recalled is only 150,000.

The resolution of 1961 was intended to meet the Berlin crisis. The current resolution is not designed to meet a single threat, but it is inspired by the realization that the interests of the United States and the free world are threatened in many areas such as Berlin, Cuba, and southeast Asia. Another important difference is that there are no immediate plans to use the authority contained in this resolution. The strength of the active duty forces has been substantially increased since 1961. For example, the number of combat divisions in the Army has been increased from 11 to 16, or by 45 percent. Despite the additions in the personnel and material readiness of the Armed Forces, the United States may be confronted with situations during the adjournment of Congress in which additional manpower would be needed quickly.

The President does have the authority to order members of the Ready Reserve to active duty involuntarily if he proclaimed a national emergency; however, a proclamation of national emergency would confer additional powers that are not now required. Participation by Congress in granting this authority demonstrates a solidarity and unity of determination by the executive and legislative branches to defend the vital interest of this Nation and the free world. Under this resolution not more than 150,000 members of the Ready Reserve can be involuntarily ordered to active duty and the authority will exist only until February 28, 1963; and the members of the Reserve who may be called can be required to serve not more than 12 months.

'Bout a third down.

Much obliged for you correction.

Thank you very much for your complete answer to my question.
So, when there’s an emergency, there’s Standby Authority. Am I right?

Wouldn’t “president” be the indirect object and “authority” be the direct object? :smiley:

Given that the President had to request it and assuming no changes since, no. Congress must authorize this specific kinda request.

So the request by the President must pass in both the Senate and the House to complete the authorization process, right?

Thank you.

So the situation when Kennedy was President was a little different than it is today. To add a little context, the United States has something called the “Ready Reserve”, these are reserve forces of our military who are viewed as basically “ready to be called to active service if necessary.” The Ready Reserve has three components:

  1. The Selected Reserve - This is basically the National Guard and the Reserve forces for each branch of the military e.x. the U.S. Army Reserve, U.S. Navy Reserve etc. These persons are considered “Active” members of the military, note I said “Active” not Active Duty. This means they are receiving a regular paycheck and are regularly engaged in military activities. However it is on a limited basis, typically they do required drills two weekends per month, and have to take a number of training activities throughout the year. They are also held to standards of military fitness (physical fitness.)

  2. Inactive Ready Reserve - These are individuals who typically are retired or separated from service, there is a legal requirement that you remain in the IRR for a number of years. It varies depending on what your rank was when you separated. The IRR gets complicated and probably not worth elaborating on here.

  3. Inactive National Guard - This is identical to the IRR, except is for recently separated National Guardsmen instead of regular military.

In Kennedy’s time there was some threshold of the reserve I believe he could call up unilaterally, but more than that required Congressional approval, which is what he was being granted with that 1962 act. In 1976 there was an addition to the U.S. code that basically says at any given time, the President can have up to 200,000 members of the Ready Reserve in an active status at any given time. Beyond that, he requires congressional authority. So say, President Jimmy Carter would not have needed to get specific approval from Congress to activate 150,000 members of the reserve as Kennedy did, because of differences in the law. This is called “Presidential Reserve Callup Authority.”

Now hilariously because we’re basically a stupid country, when we passed the National Emergency Act (i.e. the President can do anything he wants act), we stipulated that this limit of 200,000 is raised to 1,000,000 during a declared National Emergency. It should be noted that the United States has been in a perpetual state of declared National Emergency since 1979.

I accept your correction, you’re right!

The required drills are one weekend a month; however, that is considered to be four drills. Essentially they get four days pay for two days work. Of course there’s also the two-week annual training which is paid on a one days pay for one days work basis.

Minor quibble - Individual Ready Reserve. I separated from active Navy service to the reserves and IRR. After a few years of me not deciding to become an active reservist I was discharged from the IRR (I was a commissioned officer, perhaps that’s why there was not end date set in stone for my IRR term at the outset).


When I was in the Army Reserves, we actually got 16 days pay for the 14 day annual training. Just like the weekend “Battle Assemblies” (as Drills were re-named), we got paid for the day before and the day after (I think the rationale was that they were “travel” days).

As to the IRR, that depends on the “needs of the Army” (or whichever Reserve component). I enlisted under what was then a standard “6+2” contract - 6 years Active Reserve duty + 2 years in the IRR. By the time I was supposed to be transferred to the IRR in 2006, basically no one was. I spent those last two years that were supposed to be IRR on Active Reserve status, which at that point was pretty much the standard. It’s my understanding that at that point, new Reserve component enlistment contracts didn’t have an IRR component anymore - enlistees enlisted for Active Reserve duty for the entire length of their contract from the get-go. I have no idea what the current terms usually are.