DoD orders update of mobilization plan

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Sent: Wednesday, October 19, 2005 11:42 AM
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Subject: DoD orders update of mobilization plan

 

DoD orders update of mobilization plan

By Vince Crawley
Navy Times staff writer
24 October 2005 Issue

The Pentagon recently updated long-standing orders for the services to plan how they might mobilize military retirees to duty during a national emergency, freeing up active-duty personnel for overseas combat.But while Defense Department officials stress that the ability to involuntarily mobilize retirees has long been part of U.S. law, it is unclear whether those plans would ever be acted upon.

Title 10, Section 688 of the U.S. Code says that retired active-duty members “may be ordered to active duty … at any time.”Reserve and National Guard retirees can be recalled only if Congress authorizes what is called a “full mobilization,” said Lt. Col. Bob Stone, spokesman for the Pentagon’s office of reserve affairs.

The post-Sept. 11, 2001, call-up is a “partial mobilization,” authorized by the president instead of Congress, and allows the mobilization of those still serving in reserve status but not reservist retirees, Stone said in mid-October. Numerous retirees have volunteered to return to active duty since Sept. 11, 2001, but none has been involuntarily mobilized, Stone said in a written response to questions. Department of Defense Directive 1352.1 states: “It is DoD policy that military retirees be ordered to active duty as needed to perform such duties as the [service] secretary concerned considers necessary in the interests of national defense.

”The newly updated directive, signed July 16 by Acting Deputy Defense Secretary Gordon England, highlights an important aspect of the military’s generous retirement pay: It is, in a sense, retainer pay, because retirees remain subject to call-up at least until they reach age 60. This aspect of military retirement has not been discussed in Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld’s ongoing studies of how to restructure military retirement benefits. Members of the so-called Retired Reserve are considered the third tier of the nation’s reserve forces, to be mobilized after the Ready Reserve and the Select Reserve, according to David Segal and Mady Wechsler Segal, military population researchers with the University of Maryland.

Members of the Retired Reserve “have qualified for retirement through length of service or disability and are carried on the reserve roles because military retired pay is legally a compensation for availability rather than a pension,” the Segals said in a March report for the Population Reference Bureau, a nonprofit group. “The likelihood of mobilization for these reservists is very low,” the Segals said, “although the Department of Defense has called for volunteers from the retired reserves to serve in current military operations.

”The new directive replaces a previous version dated March 2, 1990. Stone said the directive was updated as part of a regular review process. “All DoD publications are reviewed every five years and updated as necessary to incorporate policy, administrative and legal changes that have occurred,” Stone said. The new update “incorporated administrative changes” and removed some of the detailed procedures in the older version. Policies for using mobilized retirees remain essentially unchanged.

According to the newly updated version:

• The Defense Department “shall plan to use as many retirees as necessary to meet national security needs.”

• Retirees can be used “to fill shortages or to augment deployed or deploying units and activities or units in the continental United States, Alaska and Hawaii supporting deployed units.”

• Retirees can be used “to release other military members for deployment overseas.”

Subject to legal restrictions, retirees can “fill civilian workforce shortages” for the federal government.

• Mobilized retirees would receive full active-duty pay and benefits for their service. The policy directs each service to “prepare plans and establish procedures for mobilization of military retirees.”

The directive also says the service must make detailed plans for duties that would be performed by retirees as well as to keep records on retirees’ eligibility for call-up, to include their availability for call-up, their civilian employment and their physical condition. “All non-disabled retirees are subject to recall to active duty,” Stone said. However, retirees are divided into three readiness categories, including one that covers those retired for medical disabilities:

• Category I retirees are not disabled, are under age 60 and have been retired fewer than five years.

• Category II retirees are not disabled, are under age 60 and have been retired five years or more.

• Category III includes those who are disabled and those who are age 60 or older.

An estimated 900,000 retirees are in Categories I and II, Stone said.

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