In response to the Coronavirus spread, a large but yet unspecified number of reserve and retired troops are being called up or, in the case of the latter, asked back to service.
Last Friday, President Trump signed an executive order that directs the Department of Defense (DoD) to call up to Active Duty a large number of National Guard, Reserves, and Individual Ready Reserves personnel.
The executive order stipulates that:
“The Secretaries of the Army, Navy, and Air Force, at the direction of the Secretary of Defense, and the Secretary of Homeland Security with respect to the Coast Guard when it is not operating as a service in the Navy, are authorized to order to active duty not to exceed 24 consecutive months, such units, and individual members of the Ready Reserve under the jurisdiction of the Secretary concerned, not to exceed 1,000,000 members on active duty at any one time, as the Secretary of Defense and, with respect to the Coast Guard when it is not operating as a service in the Navy, the Secretary of Homeland Security consider necessary.”
In addition to those measures, the Army has sent out an email asking retired Soldiers to come back on Active Duty and help fight the spread of the Coronavirus. Although the request is aimed at specific, health care Military Occupational Specialties (MOS), the Army is open to any retired Soldier willing to help out.
“These extraordinary challenges require equally extraordinary solutions,” states the email that has been sent out, “and that’s why we’re turning to you — trusted professionals capable of operating under constantly changing conditions. When the Nation called — you answered, and now, that call may come again.”
The email goes on and asks retired officers, noncommissioned officers, and Soldiers who are qualified in certain health care MOS (60F: Critical Care Officer; 60N: Anesthesiologist; 66F: Nurse Anaesthetist; 66S: Critical Care Nurse; 66P: Nurse Practitioner; 66T: ER Nurse; 68V: Respiratory Specialist; 68W: Medic) to volunteer.
It clarifies, however, that if the above are working on private or public hospitals, they should refrain from volunteering because of the strain that their absence would put on the health care system.
Army Surgeon General Scott Dingle said about the initiative that the Army “will walk [volunteers] through the process of certification, making sure that all certifications and credentials are straight. Then once we do that, we will plug them into all of our medical treatment facilities as required in support of the mission.”
In most cases, troops serving in an Individual Ready Reserve capacity have either time left in their Military Service Obligation (MSO) or have chosen to be there after finishing their time on Active Duty. In contrast to the National Guard and Reserve, which are active reserves with actual units, the Individual Ready Reserve concept allows troops to be augmented to other units if activated.