[Mb-civic] AWOL...it's the 60's all over again!

SharmagneS at aol.com SharmagneS at aol.com
Tue Sep 28 10:57:45 PDT 2004

 Updated: 01:48 PM EDT

 Former Soldiers Slow to Report

 500 Ready Reservists Seek Exemptions From Reactivation, Risk AWOL Status

 By Tom Squitieri, USA TODAY

 (Sept. 28) - Fewer than two-thirds of the former soldiers being reactivated 
for duty in Iraq and elsewhere have reported on time, prompting the Army to 
threaten some with punishment for desertion.

Talk About It

The former soldiers, part of what is known as the Individual Ready Reserve 
(IRR), are being recalled to fill shortages in skills needed for the conflicts 
in Iraq and Afghanistan.
 Of the 1,662 ready reservists ordered to report to Fort Jackson, S.C., by 
Sept. 22, only 1,038 had done so, the Army said Monday. About 500 of those who 
failed to report have requested exemptions on health or personal grounds.
 "The numbers did not look good," said Lt. Col. Burton Masters, a spokesman 
for the Army's Human Resources Command. "We are tightening the system, reaching 
the people and bringing them in."

You Said It

Masters said most of the requests for exemptions are likely to be denied: "To 
get an exemption, it has to be a very compelling case, such as a severe 
medical condition."
 The figures are the first on the IRR call-up. They reflect the challenges 
the Pentagon faces in trying to find enough troops for ongoing operations and 
show resistance among some servicemembers who returned to civilian life.
 The ready reserve is an infrequently used pool of former soldiers who can be 
called to duty in a national emergency or war. On June 29, the Army announced 
it would call 5,674 members of its IRR back to active duty this year and 
 Several of those who received recall notices have already been declared AWOL 
(absent without official leave) and technically are considered deserters. "We 
are not in a rush to put someone in the AWOL category," Masters said. "We 
contact them and convince them it is in their best interests to show up. If you 
are a deserter, it can affect you the rest of your life."

More on This Story

Fourteen people were listed as AWOL last week; six subsequently told the Army 
they would report. Punishment for being AWOL is up to the unit commander and 
can include prison time and dishonorable discharge, said Col. Joseph Curtin, 
an Army spokesman.
 With a force that generals say is stretched thin, the Army is considering 
$1,000-a-month bonuses to ex-soldiers who volunteer to return for overseas duty.
 Ready reservists are soldiers who were honorably discharged after finishing 
their active-duty tours, usually four to six years, but remain part of the IRR 
for the rest of their original eight-year commitment. The IRR call-up is the 
first major one in 13 years, since 20,277 troops were ordered back for the 
Persian Gulf War.

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