The other day, a co-worker of mine sent me a link to an article by Andrew Brennan titled “Welcome to the New ‘Back-Door Draft” dated 22 October 2014. I followed the link and it went to the New York Times. The article talked about a new “stop loss” that went into effect from a recent Executive Order signed by the President. At first glance, I thought it wouldn’t be possible. The article talked about initiating a stop loss for Soldiers in the midst of a major downsizing effort. This didn’t make any sense to me. Why wasn’t the media all over this? Why weren’t the Service Department heads all over this?
So I did a little bit of research. The Executive Order that the author was referencing is titled “Ordering the Selective Reserve and Certain Individual Ready Reserve Members of the Armed Forces to Active Duty.” The President signed it on 16 October 2014. The Executive Order reads in part that the President has determined “it is necessary to augment the active Armed Forces of the United States for the effective conduct of Operation United Assistance, which is providing civilian-led humanitarian assistance and consequence management support related to the Ebola virus disease outbreak in West Africa.” It doesn’t mention anything about a “stop loss.”
In reporting, as in life, words are important. I understand that authors and newspapers are both in the business of making money and getting the facts straight, so headlines are their selling point. As a service member, any article on a newsstand stating “New Back-Door Draft” would catch my eye. I remember when I attended basic training back in 1990; there were Individual Ready Reserve (IRR) call-ups in the barracks next to ours. They were some disgruntled individuals. I also remember serving in Afghanistan with a retired OH-58D Kiowa pilot who was called back into service due to personnel shortages. I also served with many Soldiers in our Squadron in 2004-2005 who were serving under the “stop loss” at that time. Stop loss is painful. Calling up the IRR is also painful. My question is this: why call up select persons from the IRR to serve on active duty in support of Operation United Assistance when we are sending active duty Soldiers home on a daily basis as part of the downsizing, reduction in force, or whatever title you would like to call it? Isn’t that counterproductive? Wouldn’t it make more sense to slow the downsizing effort to make sure that we have enough Soldiers so that we can deploy in support of global missions? Wouldn’t it make more sense to slow the downsizing to ensure that we have a ready force for contingency operations, like Operation United Assistance?
Let me leave you with one more thought to chew on. Theoretically, the Army could relieve someone from active duty - let’s say they didn’t make the cut with retention caps. This Soldier could then be called back up from the IRR to active duty and then deploy. What about someone who gets discharged from active duty through other means? Maybe a Chapter? Could those Soldiers be recalled through the IRR? It just seems to me that we could be ensuring our Force is manned properly using a more efficient way. What do you think?
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*These opinions belong to the writer and in no way reflect the views of the DoD or other departments of the US government.