The Army also announced, in a memo released this week, that it will no longer involuntarily mobilize from the IRR an estimated 15,000 Army officers who have already completed their eight years of required military duty, stating that under a new policy it will offer them a chance to resign instead.
Poor records management has hampered the Army's efforts to draw on the pool, intended to fill holes in existing Army units, Harvey told defense reporters last week.
Since June 2004, the Army has begun mobilizing 6,535 people from the IRR. Of those, about 3,300 have reported for duty, and 1,450 have been granted exemptions on medical and other grounds, according to Army figures from October. The Army is trying to locate more than 400 who were supposed to report by October but have not.
Stretched thin by the war in Iraq, the Army began calling up IRR soldiers last year for the first time since the 1991 Persian Gulf War to meet its growing manpower needs. The Army taps the IRR for replacement troops and to bring undermanned units to full strength.
Officials said a year ago that they anticipated a similar dip into the IRR in 2005, but the Army is struggling to complete the first group.
“It's profoundly irritating to me. It's not good management,” Harvey said. The Army said it has lacked resources to modernize its IRR record-keeping. Harvey said an initiative is underway to allow the Army to better track IRR members and how much time they have left to serve.
IRR call-ups — in the form of Western Union Mailgrams — have arrived as a welcome call to duty for some former soldiers and as a shock to others, many of whom have been out of uniform for years.
More than 3,000 of all those facing mobilization have asked for delays or exemptions, which have been granted so far primarily on the grounds of illness or the need to care for family members, but also because of financial hardship. Others have contested the call-ups on legal grounds.
One of the most contentious issues involves thousands of Army officers who have completed their eight years of military duty but have been kept in the reserve pool indefinitely because they have not formally resigned their commissions -- a requirement some officers say they knew nothing of.
Paul Davison, a 1995 West Point graduate, served six years as an infantry officer and two more in the IRR, ending in 2003. Now a freelance television producer, he thought there was some mistake three weeks ago when he opened the mailbox at his apartment on New York's Upper East Side and pulled out orders summoning him to report for training and deployment to Iraq.