Marines May Recall Some Recent Veterans to Active Duty

By Kathleen T. Rhem
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Aug. 23, 2006 - President Bush has authorized the Marine Corps to call up Marines from the service's Individual Ready Reserve, which may mean a return to duty for some recently discharged veterans.

"We are telling the American people that there is a chance that ... those individual ready reservists will be recalled," Marine Maj. Steven O'Connor, reserve liaison officer with Marine Corps Public Affairs, said.

The Individual Ready Reserve includes 59,000 Marines who have completed their initial enlistment, but are still within their mandatory eight-year military service obligation. All enlistees in all services incur an eight-year commitment in some capacity, generally a combination of active or reserve and then IRR service.

Marine officials couldn't say how many Marines from the IRR could be activated, or when that might happen. Bush authorized call-ups from this pool July 26. The authorization allows up to 2,500 Marines to be on involuntary active duty at any time. But the actual number will depend on how many Marines volunteer for deployments within the global war on terrorism. The service has set up a Web site,, to allow IRR Marines and recent retirees to volunteer for war on terror assignments.

Officials envision a much smaller number of involuntary activations than the maximum authorization. "There is that chance (of calling up the maximum authorized), even though it seems rather slight," O'Connor said.

Involuntarily activated Marines will receive at least five months notice before they have to report for an average of 12 to 18 months of additional active duty, officials said. The service is specifically targeting Marines in the combat arms, communications, intelligence, engineer and military police career fields.

In addition, the service is excluding Marines who are in their first year of IRR service. Officials are deliberately avoiding activating Marines who have recently been in a combat zone. Only Marines in their second or third year of IRR service are being involuntarily recalled, O'Connor said.

Marines in the IRR are a proven asset as the military works to manage its resources during heightened demands posed by the war on terror, O'Connor said. "These are Marines that have already been trained," he said.

Service officials said the authority does not signal a problem with recruiting. "It's just a matter of the Marine Corps accessing its total force," O'Connor said.

He noted that about 2,600 Marine reservists are serving within U.S. Central Command's area of responsibility. "They're part of our total force," he added. "They're a resource we should be able to tap into in times of war and contingency."

The Marine Corps drew on its Individual Ready Reserve in the early days of Operation Iraqi Freedom, involuntarily calling up roughly 2,000 Marines, and in the 1991 Gulf War, when about 8,300 IRR members were involuntarily activated, O'Connor said.

[Web Version:]