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Pentagon to call up rarely tapped Reserves

Individual Ready Reserves going to Iraq, Afghanistan

From Mike Mount
CNN Washington Bureau

• Interactive: Who's who in Iraq
• Interactive: Sectarian divide

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The U.S. Army plans to call up as many as 5,600 reservists rarely tapped for duty, the Pentagon told members of Congress Tuesday.

Pentagon officials said the troops, part of the Individual Ready Reserve, will fill holes in units deploying to Iraq and Afghanistan as part of the ongoing rotation of troops in and out of those combat zones.

The troops would be chosen because they have critical specialties such as military police, infantry or engineers, Pentagon officials said. (Full story)

The Army is expected to announce the call-up Wednesday, according to Pentagon officials.

Pentagon officials admit that the military is reaching deep into its resources but say that war planners have long had contingency plans for such a call-up when troops are needed.

The Pentagon has about 118,000 such troops, former enlisted soldiers who served less than eight years on active duty or officers who did not resign their commissions.

The Individual Ready Reserve category is distinct from regular Army Reserve because the troops do not perform any military service during the year yet are still eligible to be called to active duty.

About 2,000 IRR troops already serve in some capacity in Iraq, although many of them volunteered for service, according to Pentagon officials.

The last time a significant number of IRR troops were called to duty was for the Persian Gulf War in 1991, according to Pentagon officials. Some 20,000 IRR troops filled vacancies or performed specialized duties during that war.

The planned new call-up reflects the limited number of troops available to Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld to fight the war on terrorism and the conflict in Iraq.

As Lt. Gen. Frank Hagenbeck, deputy chief of staff for personnel, put it earlier this month, "We are stretched, but we have what we need."

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