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January 18, 2005

I do solemnly swear to defend and uphold...

...and a Regular commission is technically for life, so yes, I've done this (yes, Beth - I did it right after 9/11). However due to my disabilities and the fact that artillerymen and sims geeks are not in high demand, I have *zero* expectation of getting a call - but I agree with the spokesman in this piece- it's not scraping the bottom of the barrel - it's leveraging experience and training you already paid for.

And it ain't the great deal you might think. If you retired 5 years ago, and are recalled, after you re-retire, your retired pay is recalculated for years of service (so you do gain the 2.5% bump per year) but it is calculated based against your last pre-retirement pay scale. Meaning it's not calculated against the pay scale you were being paid against when you were serving during the recall.

In my case, there would be close to a $35K hit in the annual income. The active duty pay against what I make now for working is just about a wash, but I'd lose the pension and disability payment. Which means to not take a serious hit I'd *have* to get deployed overseas, to get the combat zone exclusion and the hostile fire pay, etc, which would offset (not eliminate but offset) a chunk of the pay cut.

But I'd do it in a heartbeat - not that they are going to ask fat, disabled me. I don't think they'll let me get away with wearing the PT uniform all the time, which is all I fit in at the moment.

From USA Today:

USA Today
January 13, 2005
Pg. 5

Program Permits Army Retirees To Re-Enter Active Duty

By Gregg Zoroya, USA Today

WASHINGTON - The Army, stretched thin by the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, is dipping into one of its last resources for wartime duty: retirees on a military pension.

The Army is expanding a little-known program to bring back retired officers and enlisted soldiers who expressed a willingness to join again, particularly after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

At least 320 retirees signed up last year under this program. Probably more than 500 will go back on active duty this year, says Lt. Col. Karla Brischke, a personnel manager. They range in age from mid-40s to late 60s and possibly older, and each has at least 20 years of military service.

"It doesn't mean that we're scraping the bottom of the barrel," says Lt. Col. Bryan Hilferty, a spokesman for the Army personnel department. "It means that we're doing a prudent thing with American resources."

After 9/11, about 15,000 retired soldiers contacted the Army to offer their services. From that group, the Army last year assembled a list of 4,500 who completed the application process.

In a separate program, Hilferty says, the Army compiled a list of 3,000 retired soldiers and began asking whether they would volunteer to be recruiters or civil affairs officers. The Army has found 616 retirees willing to fill 442 jobs as civil affairs officers in and around Iraq. They would help rebuild schools, hospitals and roads. At least 10 agreed to rejoin as recruiters.

The Marines have a similar program and have rehired 66, 1st Lt. Darlan Harris says.

Activating retired soldiers is the latest step by the Army to bolster troop levels. Other efforts include extending overseas tours from 12 to 15 months, tripling bonuses for new enlistees and National Guard members who re-enlist, and mobilizing about 4,000 soldiers from the Individual Ready Reserve. The IRR is an infrequently used pool of former troops who still have contractual obligations to the military.

"I'm no spring chicken," says James Barren, 54, of Detroit, who is rejoining the Army to train Iraqi police. "I think training is something that I can have some impact on. If I can do something to save one person's life, that's my motivation."

The Army told the retired Detroit policeman last month that his skills are valuable now in Iraq. "If they have that much confidence in me, I thought I would give it a shot," Barren says. He could be in Iraq as early as February.

"I think it's just another signal that the Army is stretched very, very thin, if not overextended," says Bob Scales, a retired Army major general and former commandant of the Army War College in Carlisle, Pa. "It's amazing how creative everybody has been lately in trying to sort of patch this Army of ours together."

The 4,500 retirees fall into three categories. The most valuable to the Army are 1,000 healthy retirees who have been out of service less than five years. A second group of 2,000 are in good health, out of the military no more than 10 years and 60 or younger. The third category of 1,500 retirees are older than 60 or have disabilities.

Retired soldiers who rejoin would serve up to a year, although they could agree to more or volunteer for another assignment.

"Here I am, in the golden years of my life at 70, still hoping that I can help somehow," says Gerald Garcia of Spokane, Wash., a retired chief warrant officer in the National Guard. "I want to be part of it, before it's too late for me."

Garcia - 5-foot-10 and 155 pounds, about the same as when he was a soldier - volunteered last year and is on the Army's list but hasn't been called up. "I still do my 25 push-ups every night. I do a lot of walking and get a lot of exercise," he says. "Hopefully, I can get involved."

Hat tip to DJ via ML.

Update: AFSister asks, in her comment:

Do you think they're relying to heavily on the Reserves to fill empty spots? I heard on the radio this morning that two Louisiana Congressmen are all up in arms about the over-use of Reserves. It's a common thought, along with criticism of stop-loss programs.
Just wondering what you all thought about that...

My response? Off the top of my head:

We're partially in a guns 'n butter issue against the analyses that say by the time we get an increase in active duty endstrength recruited, trained, and integrated, the requirement will be drawing down - and we'll end up having to fire people and spent money that would essentially be wasted... though they could re-infuse the Reserve, I suppose.

Plus, we're caught on the horns of the dilemma of Transformation - which was supposed to increase combat power while at the same time decreasing manpower requirements.

But Transformation as then-envisioned and as currently being implemented, is all about warfighting, and not about occupation while you try to re-establish a functioning government and civil society. In other words, it really didn't go far enough - but in defense of the thinkers, it takes time to work that stuff out (I make a living helping do it) and the whole process was overtaken by events. Unlike building the military that did Desert Storm, we didn't have almost 18 years (72-90) virtually unmolested to work it out - the 90's were a hell of a busy time for the services.

That's probably the huge strategic miscalculation of OIF - and they are trying to hold it together long enough with what we have that we can back away from it without a huge force increase. Which we may yet be able to do - which will take some of the strain off of the Reserve Component. But Rumsfeld was still right to say "You go with the Army you have." And, as important as this war is, it doesn't have the looming imminent threat present in WWII, so it shouldnl't, and can't, be prosecuted with that level of intensity, either. We have to re-design and rethink ourselves in light of an unanticipated (by either Democrat or Republican administrations) security environment.

But if we can't, then yes, we're going to start breaking the RC, as LTG Helmly said.

Regardless - through the next iteration of development of the National Security Strategy and the National Military Strategy that supports it - if we are going to find ourselves in the 'breaking nations and rebuilding them' business, we have to really re-think the military approach to the problem... which means a lot more people organized differently (Thomas Barnett's [The Pentagon's New Map] suggestion as an example of one approach) if we're going to do it alone, or a lot more allies... all of whom will then expect (rightfully) a yes/no vote on something we consider a vital piece of national security.

No easy choices, and the future is a murky thing to peer into, as in Patton's 'Through a glass, darkly" (okay, he was talking about the past, but I wanted to work this in here!).

Choices that seem obvious to the current crop of Armchair Generals and Strategists are only clear in hindsight, hard as it is to convince people of that when they have other agendas to advance.

Whadda all y'all think?