We’re battle ready — 30% of soldiers called up haven’t reported in, some are AWOL.
Thirty percent of former U.S. soldiers who have been called back to duty involuntarily to serve in Iraq and Afghanistan have failed to report on time, and eight have been declared AWOL, the Army said on Tuesday.
The Army’s problem with mobilizing soldiers from the Individual Ready Reserve (IRR), a seldom-tapped personnel pool, is another sign of the difficulty the Pentagon is encountering in maintaining troop levels in Iraq and Afghanistan.
So far, the Army has mobilized 3,664 people from the IRR to active duty, but 1,085 have not reported on time to the Army post to which they were assigned, said Julia Collins, a spokeswoman for the Army Human Resources Command.
The Individual Ready Reserve is made up of 111,000 people who have completed their voluntary Army service commitments and have returned to civilian life but remain eligible to be mobilized in a national emergency. Many have been out of the active-duty military for years.
Eight of those recently ordered back to active duty have been listed as absent without leave, or AWOL, and could face military criminal charges as deserters, Collins said. All eight have been notified they are being classified as AWOL and still refused to report for duty, Collins added.
In addition, their names will be entered into a national criminal investigation database, and they could be arrested if, for example, they are stopped by a police officer for a routine traffic violation, Collins said.
Six others had been listed as AWOL but have agreed to report after being contacted by the Army, Collins said.
About 85 percent of those who did not show up on time have formally requested that the Army exempt them from duty due to health issues or some other hardship, Collins said. Most of the others have requested a delay in their reporting date.
Most exemption requests are likely to be rejected, Collins said.