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2008-03-21
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No Confidence in Congress

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The Inactive Ready Reserve (IRR) is a component of soldiers who have not yet fulfilled their Mandatory Service Obligation (MSO) but have been honorably discharged from the military. IRR soldiers differ from those in the National Guard or regular Reserves in they are not required to meet any physical fitness standards, appear for drill or perform in any military manner at all. So what good is the IRR?

The IRR serves the purpose of filling the ranks when a shortage exists. After all, it would be better for the nation’s morale to draw from a pool of existing, already trained talent. Imagine the potential fit America would throw if they were forced into a modern day draft. Imagine the dangers of incapability and inexperience posed by these drafted soldiers when they are thrust onto the battle front. It’s evident the IRR serves a useful purpose, but when can they be lawfully activated?

According the paperwork I signed with the government:

The President may order up to one million Ready Reservists to active duty involuntarily for up to 24 months upon the President’s declaration of a national emergency (10 USC § 12302).

When Congress declares a state of war or national emergency, the President may order to active duty without consent, any Ready Reservist who (1) is not assigned to or participating satisfactorily in a unit of the Ready Reserve; (2) has not fulfilled their statutory Reserve obligation; and (3) has not served on active duty for a total of 24 months.

I find it interesting, given these "terms and conditions," that Congress has only declared war five times in its history, with the last case being World War II. So, this leaves a national emergency as the only potential outlet to legally recall members of the IRR to active service. On 14 September 2001, President Bush declared a state of national emergency with regard to terrorist attacks on the United States. National emergencies can end or expire for a variety of reasons and can only be extended through continuous six month reviews by Congress or extension proclamations by the President. Following a series of annual renewal notices, the terrorist-related national emergency mentioned above was finally extended by proclamation in 2005.

Interestingly, President Bush’s national state of emergency is not the only declaration that currently binds the IRR. This pool of soldiers has been legally available for recall since 1995 when President Clinton issued a national state of emergency in Executive Order 12947 due to terrorists disrupting the peace process in the Middle East. Clinton later clarified that order in 1998 when he added four terrorists by name, including Osama bin Laden. This national emergency received an extension by President Bush in 2007.

So, once again I pose the question: Is all the political hate rightfully placed solely on the President’s shoulders? A year ago, I chuckled at America’s ignorance of the War Powers clause in the Constitution, which specifically puts the power to withdraw the military in the hands of Congress. After all, Congress controls the purse strings and without logistical support, the military falters. It is the classic case of politicians not wanting to look "un-American" by not supporting the troops. The IRR is yet another mechanism with which Congress can end the American presence in Iraq. According to 50 USC § 1622, Congress has the requirement to review outstanding national emergencies on a bi-annual basis and has the authority to terminate them. If Congress does not have the wherewithal to cut the logistics train, it certainly has the ability to cut the available manpower.

Perhaps President Bush is not as foolish as he sounds and is in fact the master manipulator of two separate, completely inept houses of congress. Therefore, should America’s apparent distaste for our President be appropriately redirected to the Congress complicit with the President’s actions?


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