Seabees fire M9 service pistols during a weapon qualification in 2012 in preparation for deployment. A decreased need for war-zone sailors has triggered new mobilization rules in the Reserve. (MC2 Daniel Garas/Navy)
With the Afghanistan drawdown in full swing, the demand for mobilizing Navy reservists for overseas deployments has been significantly cut. As a result and effective Jan. 1, the Reserve will end its Reserve Ready Mobilization Pool, a system used to tap eligible officer reservists for involuntary recall to the war zones since 2009 and all reservists since 2010.
“Although our immediate need for a large forward deployed force has been reduced in correlation with the drawdown in Afghanistan, our Reserve Sailors will continue to stand, ‘Ready. Anytime, Anywhere,’ ” said Rear Adm. Bryan Cutchen, the commander of Navy Reserve Forces Command, in an emailed statement.
In fiscal 2012, 3,821 reservists mobilized and deployed, according to Navy Reserve Forces Command. That number dropped to 3,152 in 2013 and this fiscal year only 2,866 are slated to deploy. With the drop in war-zone requirements, it’s predicted 1,380 will be needed to fill individual mobilization needs in fiscal 2015. While you may not go to Afghanistan, there are sailors needed in places like Djibouti, for example.
Each calendar year, the Reserve used the pool to identify and notify sailors eligible for involuntary recall and deployment.
“Personnel on the RMP list could monitor upcoming mobilization opportunities and volunteer, or they could take their chances and wait to see whether or not they would be involuntarily mobilized,” said Capt. George Honeycutt, deputy chief of staff for operations at Navy Reserve Forces Command. “If they did not volunteer and were not involuntarily selected during that calendar year, they were waived from any mobilization requirement the following calendar year.”
After Jan. 1, most reservists will be evaluated each time a mobilization requirement is identified. Honeycutt stressed that officials will continue to take volunteers first and involuntarily recall only as a last resort. In fiscal 2013, for example, 75 percent of mobilization billets were filled by volunteers.
“If there are no qualified volunteers, Navy Reserve Forces Command will utilize a random selection process to fill requirements,” Honeycutt said.
The new system doesn’t apply to some exempt jobs. Public affairs and medical-related jobs, for example, are usually filled via a community manager.
To find out if you are in one of these exempt categories, visit www.navyreserve.navy.mil and click on “Hot Topics” and then on the reserve mobilization pool disestablishment link.
Also, if you’ve recently deployed, you can’t be called again — unless you ask for it.
“Reserve sailors who have already deployed and are still in dwell cannot be involuntarily mobilized,” Honeycutt said. “They can, however, volunteer for additional mobilizations by signing a Voluntary Waiver Acknowledgment.”
If you’re one of those sailors wanting to activate and deploy, Honeycutt said it’s critical to the selection process that you are already considered mobilization ready by your command to ensure there are no medical or administrative discrepancies in your record that would prevent you from deploying.