Marines Express Little Surprise About IRR Call-Ups
By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service
CAMP PENDLETON, Calif., Aug. 24, 2006 Marines here expressed little surprise over plans to recall members of the Marine Corps’ Individual Ready Reserve to active duty, acknowledging that regardless of whether people think it’s fair, it’s part of the commitment those reservists signed on for.
Marine Corps officials earlier this week announced the decision to involuntarily activate up to 2,500 inactive reservists for 12 to 18 months of duty.
The decision represents the first involuntary recall in the Marine Corps since the beginning of Operation Iraqi Freedom. Those affected have already served on active duty and are completing their eight-year military obligations in the IRR.
“If I was in their shoes, I probably wouldn’t like it,” acknowledged Staff Sgt. Dwayne Benjamin, a purchasing chief for the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit here.
Although the move probably won’t be popular among affected Marines, Benjamin said it shouldn’t be completely unexpected. “When you did your first time around (on active duty), you know it was a possibility,” he said. “And knowing that it was a possibility, it’s something that they should have always kept in mind.”
Benjamin’s views echoed throughout the 15th MEU as the active-duty Marines made last-minute preparations before their next deployment as U.S. Central Command’s theater reserve force.
Cpl. Juan Juarez, an active-duty administrative clerk who plans to join the Marine Corps Reserve after his upcoming deployment, shrugged when asked about the possibility of involuntary recall. “When you join the Marine Corps, you were joining a way of life,” he said. “You knew when you signed up for eight years that it was a possibility, so why not expect it to be eight years?”
Cpl. James Johnson, a postal clerk about to leave for his third deployment during his four years in the Marine Corps, said he applauds the decision to commit more Marines to the mission. That will help get the job done faster so U.S. troops can come home sooner, he figures. “So I think it’s good. It will be a relief to the active force,” he said.
Former Marine Corps recruiter Chief Warrant Officer Mike Chaney said he has little patience with anyone who complains that they’re being recalled to active duty against their will.
“I always told my guys that they were joining the Marine Corps to be a Marine and possibly, if called, to fight for their country,” he said. “I told them that any benefits they got were just the icing on the cake. So I have no sympathy for people who complain about being called up to serve their country.”
President Bush authorized the call-ups from the Marine Corps’ 58,000-member IRR pool in late July. The authorization allows the Marines to call up to 2,500 Marines to involuntary service at any one time. The affected Marines will receive at least five months notice before they are required to report for active duty, officials said.