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thedrifter
07-09-04, 09:33 AM
07-07-2004

And Now Comes The Resistance



By Paul Connors



I wondered how long it would take and now, I have my answer. With last week’s announcement that the U.S. Army planned to recall up to 5,600 members of the Individual Ready Reserve (IRR), it seemed that it would only be a matter of time before some one individual would stand up and say “no.”



In quite uncharacteristic fashion, the first dissenter on record is none other than a former officer.



Figures for the breakdown of the mix between recalled officers and enlisted members are not yet available, but DefenseWatch has received numerous letters that seem to indicate that a fairly high percentage of recalled members are junior officers in the ranks of 1st lieutenant and captain. Of these two ranks, a significant number are officers in the following branches: field artillery, military intelligence and Corps of Engineers.



The other most consistent fact in each officer’s case is that they had served their required military obligation, either on active duty with a follow-on reserve commitment or in the Army Reserve or National Guard. The officers then decided to leave the military and pursue civilian endeavors. In the case of these recalled officers, they did not resign their commissions and that simple fact left them subject to recall by the Army’s Human Resources Command.



For the enlisted members recalled from the IRR, the most commonly recalled specialties are mechanics, truck drivers, supply specialists, intelligence analysts and interpreters. Many of these folks haven’t worn a uniform in years and yet, the Army is so desperate that it is willing to call back folks whose military skills are, in many cases, seriously degraded.



With all of the indignation that surrounded the Army’s recall announcement, I knew it would be just a matter of time before a recalled reservist challenged his/her orders. I also knew that such an event should receive media coverage and is the case with such events, the first challenge did.



The first challenge to the recall policies of a harried Army personnel command came from a former field artillery first lieutenant living in Cary, N.C. Todd Parrish, like so many other nameless reserve officers, received orders recalling him to active duty for a minimum of 18 months. The Army doesn’t deny the fact that Parrish served four years of active duty and completed his military obligation with four more years in the inactive reserve.



Like so many other officers, Parrish left himself open to recall because he “failed” to resign his commission at the end of his military obligation. Had he and so many others done so, he would not have been subject to recall and facing the legal challenge now before him.



Parrish attended North Carolina State University on an ROTC scholarship. While there, he majored in civil engineering. After graduation, he served for four years on active duty as a field artillery officer and upon separating from the active army, pursued a career in civil engineering in his home state. His civilian career plans also included eventual licensure as a professional engineer by the state of North Carolina.



With the exception of the technicality that Mr. Parrish’s name was maintained on an Army listing as a citizen still holding an officer’s commission, for all practical intents and purposes his military career ended the day he separated from active duty. He did not affiliate with a drilling Army Reserve or National Guard unit and as a result, received no pay or retirement points for his service.



Parrish, like so many others who had completed active duty service commitments, made a decision not to join a troop unit and planned to get on with his post-military life. In an attempt that may well yet prove futile, he decided to fight the recall and retained legal counsel to challenge his orders.



Enlisted personnel facing this same round of recalls are also being torn away from their post-active-duty lives. Unlike officers, their terms of service end with the eighth anniversary of their enlistment. That is unless they’re recalled and then hit with a concurrent stop-loss order that retains them on active duty beyond their obligated service date.



This is a little-known consequence that the average citizen without military service is completely unaware of. The government and the Army are unilaterally rewriting contracts to suit their needs while retaining the upper hand in its dealings with soldiers recalled to suit their needs. Imagine if the soldier tried to unilaterally re-write the contract. They’d be laughed out of their commander’s office.



The legal challenges will probably be decided in the Army’s favor and that will be truly unfortunate for the service members involved. The fact that members of the IRR are being recalled at all is glaring proof that the Secretary of Defense and other senior civilian and uniformed leaders in the Pentagon have misled the American people concerning the actual ability of the Army to carry out all of its assigned missions.



Every time a reserve or guard unit is activated and every time a member of the IRR receives recall orders, it further confirms that Army force numbers just don’t add up.



As we enter the election season later this year, let us hope that the debates do include discussions about the shortfalls in military personnel and readiness. And for once in all of our lives, let the right thing be done for our fellow citizens in uniform.



Let’s stop trying to do all things military on the cheap. Let’s give our GI Joes and Janes what they need, who they need, where they need it and when they need it. Let’s stop playing with the very lives (and livelihoods) of those folks who protect the lives of the rest of us.



Paul Connors is a Senior Editor of DefenseWatch. He can be reached at paulconnors@hotmail.com. © 2004 Paul Connors. Please send Feedback responses to dwfeedback@yahoo.com.


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Ellie