Army Allows Reserve Officers to Leave Rather Than Go to War
Published on Tuesday, December 20, 2005 by USA Today
Army Allows Reserve Officers to Leave Rather Than Go to War
by Gregg Zoroya

Almost two-thirds of the Army officers in a special Reserve program have been allowed to resign rather than go to war, the Army has disclosed. The 265 officers are among 410 reservists who had orders that likely would have sent them to Iraq or Afghanistan.

Faced with growing unrest among soldiers called back to active duty from the rarely used Individual Ready Reserve, the Army took the unprecedented step last month of granting a way out for officers who had received orders for duty but did not want to go: They could resign.

That option has not been granted to enlisted soldiers who also have been called back to duty from the Ready Reserve. Eighty remain in open defiance of orders to appear. Lt. Col. Bryan Hilferty, an Army spokesman, said the Army may soon take action against them.

The possible repercussions range from less-than-honorable discharges to declaring them AWOL or deserters, Hilferty said.

The Ready Reserve is a pool of 110,000 inactive troops - officers and enlisted men and women - who still have contractual obligations to the military. Enlisted soldiers often join the Ready Reserve to finish out an eight-year minimum obligation of service after being on active duty. Officers do the same.

Many of them remain in the Ready Reserve for years beyond the eight-year minimum in order to retain rank, earn promotions and receive an Army pension. Some never expect to serve in war.

An Army worn thin by the demands of Iraq and Afghanistan began a phased, involuntarily call-up of 7,380 Ready Reserve soldiers in June 2004.

Slightly more than half have served. About 20% have been excused for reasons such as finances, family or health. Hundreds more either could not be reached or simply ignored their orders.

To end some of the confusion, the Army has decided to give special notice to 12,093 officers who are in the Ready Reserve and have completed their minimum time of service but have not yet been asked to report for duty. They will be discharged unless they choose - in writing - to remain a reservist and accept the chance of being called back into wartime service.

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