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ARLINGTON, Va. — For the first time since the Gulf War, the Army is preparing for the involuntary activation of at least 5,600 soldiers who have long since hung up their uniforms, Pentagon and Army officials said Tuesday.

The Bush administration has mobilized thousands of reservists since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

But this call-up, to be announced as early as Wednesday, involves troops from the Individual Ready Reserves, or IRR — servicemembers who have left active duty or active reserve service but still have time left on their obligation to serve (see "How the Army Reserve works" at end of story).

President Bush cleared the way for the Pentagon to use the IRR when he issued a Declaration of National Emergency after Sept. 11.

The declaration allows the government to order to active duty up to 1 million members of the Selected Reserve, Individual Ready Reserve, and Inactive National Guard without their consent, for a period not to exceed 24 consecutive months.

All of the services have inactive components, but the pending call-up will involve only Army troops, a Pentagon official said Tuesday.

Since early May, the Army has been prescreening its entire IRR force of about 117,400 troops to determine who may be eligible to deploy, Army personnel officials have said.

About 2,100 IRR soldiers already have been activated, but those have been volunteers, Maj. Gen. Franklin L. “Buster” Hagenbeck, the Army’s chief for personnel matters, told reporters June 2.

The IRR soldiers who get tapped in the upcoming round of activations likely will be given 30 days’ notice that they will be moved from the IRR/ING category to Selected Reserve, the official said.

Many of the activated reservists will be shifted to drilling units within the Selected Reserve and either eventually deploy to Iraq or stay stateside to fill gaps left by other deploying soldiers, the Pentagon official said.

Some of the IRR soldiers may be sent directly to Iraq or Afghanistan to fill specific slots, the Pentagon official said.

The inactive reserves were first called up for the Korean War, when the U.S. government turned to about 160,000 veterans of World War II.

The IRR was used again during the Gulf War.

Sandra Jontz contributed to this report from the Pentagon.

How the Army Reserve works ...

The Army Reserve is three groups: the Selected Reserve, the Individual Ready Reserve and the Retired Reserve. There are more than 1 million Army Reserve soldiers.

The Selected Reserve is the group of Army Reserve soldiers most readily available to the President. The Selected Reserve comprises Troop Program Units (TPUs), Active Guard and Reserve (AGR) soldiers and Individual Mobilization Augmentees (IMAs).

¶ Troop Program Units

The Army Reserve is authorized to have more than 185,000 soldiers in more than 2,000 TPUs. These men and women typically train on selected weekends and perform annual training.

¶ Active Guard and Reserve

AGR soldiers serve full time on active duty in units and organizations of the Army Reserve or that directly support the Army Reserve.

¶ Individual Mobilization Augmentees

The Army Reserve’s IMAs are assigned to high-level headquarters where they would serve if mobilized. Most IMAs train annually for two weeks.

The Individual Ready Reserve (IRR) are soldiers who may be called upon, if needed, to replace soldiers in active and reserve units. Many in the IRR have left active duty recently and still have a reserve commitment. Others have chosen to remain active as Army Reserve soldiers, but not as a unit member or IMA. There are about 163,000 members of the IRR.

The Retired Reserve consists of approximately 715,000 retirees from the Army (Active Army, Army Reserve and Army National Guard).

Source: The Army Reserve

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