In mid-May the Pentagon quietly let it be known that up to 23,000 inactive reservists were eligible for active duty. Well, Rumsfeld announced concrete plans yesterday to call up 5600 of those on Individual Ready Reserve for service in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Amid Congressional concerns that the military is stretched too thin, the Army is preparing to take advantage of a rarely used wartime program that allows it to recall soldiers who have left the service and did not join the reserves. Pentagon officials said Tuesday that 5,600 former soldiers were going to be called up for yearlong tours, mostly assignments in Iraq and Afghanistan. . . .Now I thought Don Rumsfeld's genius plan of outsourcing all the non-combat military positions to private contractors was going to take care of most of this kind of stuff. Maybe the prospect of getting beheaded has been keeping the private sector from jumping into Iraq more wholeheartedly?
Most of those called up will perform support and logistical jobs like truck drivers, mechanics, administrative specialists, food service workers and engineers. One Pentagon official said that the military police would also be included.
Members of Congress have been briefed this week on the Army's plans. Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld gave the Army broad authority in January to reach into the Individual Ready Reserve, although the specifics of the new call-up were approved only in recent days.
One particularly interesting aspect of the Army's scrambling for troops is that all the top brass doesn't want a larger military. Army Chief of Staff Gen. Peter J. Schoomaker, like a good neoliberal CEO, is cited in the New York Times as saying -- in private-sector-speak -- he doesn't want to hire more permanent employees because it will hurt his bottom line and saddle him with too large a workforce when desired downsizing comes in the near future. Best to hire temps to get you through a quick business boom and then cast them off as soon as your client base shrinks.
Wow, the talk that walks on Wall Street walks at the Pentagon, too.