Army To Call Up 5,000 More
Ex-Soldiers In 2005

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. Army, now mobilizing 5,600 former soldiers from a rarely used personnel pool to go to Iraq and Afghanistan, plans to summon a similar number next year for duty in those war zones, a senior official said on Friday.
The Army also said it plans to step up recruitment efforts to try to meet goals to sign up 80,000 new soldiers for the regular Army and 22,000 for the Army Reserve in the fiscal year that began on Friday. The Army recruiting command's chief acknowledged the wars were deterring some potential recruits.
To plug shortfalls in certain skills in units being deployed, the Army has tapped the Individual Ready Reserve (IRR), made up of 111,000 people who have completed voluntary military commitments and have returned to civilian life but remain eligible to be mobilized in a national emergency.
The Army said about 3,900 of the 5,600 IRR soldiers scheduled to be summoned to active duty already have received orders to report. The mobilization, which began in July, is intended to yield about 4,400 soldiers for duty in Iraq and Afghanistan in the coming weeks and months after the Army provides service exemptions for medical problems and other hardships.
Robert Smiley, a senior Army official involved in personnel mobilization, said the Army also expected in mid-2005 to begin mobilizing about another 5,600 from the IRR.
"It will be a one-for-one swap, essentially,'' Smiley told reporters, with the 5,600 IRR soldiers being mobilized next year, replacing the current IRR soldiers after they complete 12-month combat tours.
"It will be a one-for-one swap, essentially,'' for the IRR soldiers currently being mobilized after they complete 12-month combat tours, Smiley told reporters.
Critics have cited the Army's reliance on the IRR as evidence that it has too few soldiers to sustain force levels in Iraq and Afghanistan.
"We're a nation at war. And we need these people to come on active duty,'' said Brig. Gen. Sean Byrne, the Army's director of personnel policy.
Of the IRR members whose date to report for duty has already arrived, roughly one-third have not shown up on time, with most of those requesting service exemptions or a delay in reporting, Byrne said.
Lt. Col. Pamela Hart, an Army spokeswoman at the Pentagon, said the Army has identified six IRR members who have not reported by the date ordered, and have not requested an exemption from service or a delay in reporting.
These six people potentially could face future criminal charges if deemed absent without leave, or AWOL, although Hart said charges were unlikely and noted that commanders have a great deal of discretion in how to handle these cases.
A spokeswoman for the Army Human Resources Command had said on Tuesday that eight IRR members had been listed as AWOL.
Byrne said the Human Resources Command was mistaken, adding, "No one is considered in an AWOL status right now.''
Meanwhile, Maj. Gen. Michael Rochelle, head of the Army Recruiting Command, said the Army is adding 1,000 recruiters and $12 million in advertising money to boost efforts to sign up fresh soldiers. In the fiscal year that ended Thursday, the regular Army and Army Reserve met recruiting goals, while the Army National Guard fell short.
"Obviously there's a war going on. No one would deny that. And for some people, for some of our prospects for our target age, young men and women, that is in fact a drawback. And it will deter some of them,'' Rochelle told reporters.
"Many of them, once presented with the facts, can be convinced otherwise.''
Copyright 2004 Reuters Ltd.



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