WASHINGTON (AP) — The Army is preparing to notify about 5,600 retired and discharged soldiers who are not members of the National Guard or Reserve that they will be involuntarily recalled to active duty for possible service in Iraq or Afghanistan, Army officials said Tuesday.
It marks the first time the Army has called on the Individual Ready Reserve, as this category of reservists is known, in substantial numbers since the 1991 Gulf War.
The move reflects the continued shortage of troops available to Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld to fight the ongoing war on terrorism as well as Operation Iraqi Freedom.
Lt. Gen. Frank Hagenbeck, the Army’s deputy chief of staff for personnel, said earlier this month of the Army’s troop strength, “We are stretched but we have what we need.”
Pentagon officials have echoed that statement explaining that while the military is reaching deep into its resources, war planners have long had contingency plans such as this for when troops are really needed.
Several hundred members of the ready reserve have volunteered for active-duty service since the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.
Those who are part of the involuntary call up are likely to be assigned to National Guard or Reserve units that have been mobilized for duty in Iraq or Afghanistan, according to Army officials. An announcement is planned for Wednesday.
Members of Congress were being notified of the decision Tuesday, the officials said.
Unlike members of the National Guard and Reserve, the individual reservists do not perform regularly scheduled training.
Any former enlisted soldier who did not serve at least eight years on active duty is in the Individual Ready Reserve pool, as are all officers who have not resigned their commission.
The Army has been reviewing its list of 118,000 eligible individual reservists for several weeks in search of qualified people in certain high-priority skill areas like civil affairs.