843 ex-soldiers called up are no-shows, Army says
WASHINGTON — (AP) More than 800 former soldiers have failed to comply with Army orders to get back in uniform and report for duty in Iraq or Afghanistan, the Army said Friday. That is more than one-third of the total who were told to report to a mobilization station by Oct. 17.
Three weeks ago, the number stood at 622 amid talk that any who refused to report for duty could be declared absent without leave. Refusing to report for duty normally would lead to AWOL charges, but the Army is going out of its way to resolve these cases as quietly as possible.
In all, 4,166 members of the Individual Ready Reserve have received mobilization orders since July 6, of which 2,288 were to have reported by Oct. 17. The others are to report in coming weeks and months.
Of those due to have reported by now, 1,445 have done so, but 843 have neither reported nor asked for a delay or exemption. That no-show rate of 37 percent is roughly in line with the one-third rate the Army had forecast when it began the mobilization to fill positions in regular and reserve units.
Of the 843, the Army has had follow-up contact with 383 and is seeking to resolve their cases, according to figures made public Friday. For the 460 others, ”we are still working to establish positive contact,” the Army said. Some may not have received the mailed orders.
Members of the Individual Ready Reserve, or IRR, are rarely called to active duty. The last time was 1990, when nearly 20,000 were mobilized. IRR members are people who were honorably discharged after finishing their active-duty tours, usually four to six years, but remained in the IRR for the rest of the eight-year commitment they made when they joined the Army. They are separate from the reserve troops who are more routinely mobilized — the National Guard and Reserve.
The Marine Corps, meanwhile, said Friday that a Marine killed in western Iraq last week, Sgt. Douglas E. Bascom, 25, of Colorado Springs, Colo., was a member of the Individual Ready Reserve. He was the first IRR Marine to die in Iraq, said Gunnery Sgt. Kristine Scharber, a spokeswoman at Marine Corps headquarters in the Pentagon.
Army officials said they were uncertain whether any of their IRR members have been killed in Iraq.