This FAQ is related to Courage to Resist’s “Resisting Individual Ready Reserve (IRR) recall” published February 2009. If this question is of interest to you, please read our overview first.


Military retention officers are currently working very hard to retain experienced NCOs, and they are using the threat of IRR activation as a key part of their sales pitch. The hard sell goes something like, "If you get out now, the Army will just pull you back in a few months—so take charge of your career by re-uping for a bonus and know who you’ll be serving with!"

Often this sales pitch is accompanied by a “promise” that your new unit is “non-deployable” or simply will not be deployed. Servicemembers need to realize that every unit is deployable, if not today; it may be designated as such tomorrow. When that happens, the promise you received earlier is absolutely worthless.

We occasionally talk to individuals who have been on active duty for years who still make this mistake or miscalculation. Don’t be one of them!

Some military rights advocates believe that the IRR program today is actually more important to active duty and reserve retention than it is to actually filling deployment personnel gaps. For every person subjected to IRR recalled, we would guess that many more reenlist (or go Reserve or National Guard) specifically in order to avoid IRR activation! We hope that the information provided by our IRR overview reaches those individuals.

Here is a letter we recently received (January 2010) from a current member of the IRR that underscores this situation:

After reviewing the information on your site concerning the trickery and misguided information that is presented by retention NCO’s, I felt compelled to share my story with you. The following is yet another example of the spread of disinformation that is presented to IRR (or potential IRR) members by the United States Army.

Two weeks after entering the IRR, I received a call from a US Army retention NCO. During that call he informed me that he was my Army Reserve Career Counselor and that it was mandatory that we have a meeting, or counseling session, where he would inform me about my obligation(s) while serving in the IRR. Even though I was very busy…I still made it a point to set an appointment to meet with this NCO ASAP, as I wanted to know all the ramifications regarding my status in the IRR.

I met him at his office…with the expectation that he would inform me extensively about the IRR and explain my obligations, as he stated in our previous conversation over the phone. After speaking with him in person for just a few moments, I realized that it was not his intention to inform me about the IRR, but rather to change my mind and convince me that I would be better off if I returned to the Army Reserve or served a stint on active duty as a Drill Sergeant. During our meeting with this retention NCO as well as his partner, I was subjected to scare tactics, trickery, and misinformation and/or disinformation with the intentions of coercing me back into the Army Reserve or Active Army.

This NCO told me about a soldier who “was just like me”, who did not want to return back to the Army Reserve or Active Army, he told me a sob story about this soldier and how he was called from the IRR and was sent to Afghanistan. After 3 days in Afghanistan this soldier was killed by an IED (Improvised Explosive Device). As soon as this NCO was finished with this story, his partner came over and showed me statistics that compared the number of soldiers in the IRR next to the amount of soldiers in the IRR that are actually deployed. The numbers were impressive, according to his partners information, 1/6 of all IRR soldiers are currently deployed to a combat zone. Now, is this information true? Or were these just scare tactics used to make me reconsider my decision to join the IRR? [Our best guess is that 1/8 of IRR soldiers are currently deployed-CTR]

I initially met with retention NCO’s while I was exiting the Army Reserve and found that they used the same tactics, using copies of orders and/or statistics with the intentions of scaring me back into the Army Reserve. I still am unsure if the copies of these orders and/or statistics were falsified with the intent of preventing me from making the decision to join the IRR.

They did not care about informing me about the IRR, instead they did everything they could to prevent me from making the decision necessary to maintain my status as a soldier in the IRR. These so-called Career Counselors are not working for the soldiers, as the word counselor may imply, they are instead working to deceive exiting soldiers by convincing them that their only possible successful future will involve them serving in the Army Reserve or Active Army.

After I made it clear that I was not buying their stories, I was then presented with an offer. The NCO let me know that he could make me a Drill Sergeant, he then tried to convince me that Drill Sergeants did not deploy. He let me know that my job as a Drill Sergeant would entail training soldiers, and never deploying as one.

This was either misinformation and/or disinformation, as I know that every Drill Sergeant that I have been trained by has been deployed, and I have even seen two of my previous Drill Sergeants while I was down range (deployed to Iraq). He started sounding like a recruiter, making me promises to either defer my deployment for 24 months or prevent upcoming deployments altogether if I complied with his requests to return to the Army Reserve or Active Army.

Once I arrived to this “mandatory” counseling session, I quickly picked up that this was all just a scam. A scam used to get me to meet with a couple of retention NCO’s who would attempt to coerce me into reconsidering my decision to leave the Army Reserve and enter the IRR. I did not leave the meeting feeling informed, instead, I felt that higher ranking Non Commissioned Officers were trying to deceive and force me into making a decision that would be the best for the U.S. Army, and not for me.

The United States of America called upon me to go to war, I answered that call and served with great pride. With that said, the last thing I deserve is to return home to be met by deception and misguidance from my own military organization. I want to ensure that other soldiers who are returning home from a stressful combat tour and may be considering a transfer into the IRR are not met with the same scare tactics, trickery and misinformation/disinformation that I have encountered.