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Thousands of reservists must report for medical screening

June 13, 2007|From the Associated Press

WASHINGTON — For the first time since the Iraq war began, the Army is notifying thousands in a special category of reservists that they must report this summer for medical screening and other administrative tasks.

The decision to issue "muster" orders for 5,000 members of the Individual Ready Reserve, including some in Southern California, is not a prelude to a new mobilization or deployment of reservists to Iraq, an Army spokesman said. Instead, it is part of an effort to fix an IRR call-up system that failed early in the Iraq war.

The Army found it could not contact many of its IRR members. Many had ignored the requirement that they notify the Army of a change in residence. Some were deceased; others were physically unfit for duty or faced personal problems that barred them from serving.

The Army is now requiring that they show up in person for what it calls a one-day "physical muster." The idea is to ensure that, when and if more IRR members are needed for Iraq or other deployments, the Army will know who is fit for duty and where to find them.

The Army planned to announce the decision Thursday.

All IRR members eventually will get the order to report.

IRR members are people who were honorably discharged after finishing active-duty service but have not completed their eight-year Army commitment. While in the IRR, they are not required to train; they are not paid, and thus many believed they had no further active-duty obligation.

An Army spokesman, Lt. Col. Bryan Hilferty, said the 5,000 receiving muster orders this month were picked at random and are not necessarily in line to be mobilized and sent to Iraq.

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