Army striking up band members for war on terror
July 10, 2004
ARLINGTON, Va. — Among the thousands of members of the Inactive Ready Reserves called up for duty last week by the Pentagon are 15 band members, including an electric bass player.
Pentagon officials have said that the IRR call-up is essential in order to prevent breaking up units in order to fill the rosters of under-strength Army Reserve and National Guard units that headed to Iraq and Afghanistan.
But when Rep. Vic Snyder, an Arkansas Democrat, obtained a detailed list from the Army that showed the Military Occupational Specialty (MOS) of every one of the 5,674 IRR members recalled to service, he saw: two trumpeters, one trombonists, four clarinetists, three saxophone players, the bass player — and a euphonium player.
News that musicians are apparently essential to winning the war on terror struck a sour note with Snyder, who questioned the Army’s number-two officer about the decision to tap the bandsmen during a Wednesday hearing of the House Armed Services Committee.
“Is there not a way to do without the euphonium player?” the former Marine asked Gen. Richard Cody, the Army’s vice chief of staff.
“I assume you all have gone line-by-line on this [request]. … Is there not a way that we can’t let that kind of thing slide?”
The Army needs the IRR musicians because “our bands are being stressed quite a bit” because veterans of World War II “are passing away at pretty high rates,” Cody said.
Veterans are owed military honors in memory of their service, and military band members play at the funerals, Cody said.
The explanation appeared satisfactory to Snyder, who did not ask further questions about the musicians.