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Those deployed in Iraq are unlikely to receive more than a few days or hours of notice.

September 18, 2003
Related Topics: Employee Leave, HR & Business Administration
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Employers should prepare now for what may be the largestreserve deployment in U.S. history. Nearly 900,000 National Guard and U.S. ArmedForces Reserve members are subject to mobilization; a majority are full-timeemployees with civilian jobs. Experts estimate that as many as one out of everythree will be called to active duty if the U.S. goes to war against Iraq.

    With the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks and the warin Afghanistan, the number of reservists on active duty peaked at 95,000 inMarch 2002, before dropping to the current level of about 58,000. Reservists nowaccount for almost half the national defense strength. Members report for aminimum of one weekend each month plus two weeks each year and for active-dutyassignments commonly lasting from 90 days to one year or longer. Although theDefense Department’s stated goal is to provide at least 30 days’ notice toreservists in a call-up, those deployed in the event of an attack against Iraqare unlikely to receive more than a few days or hours of notice.

    Employers with reservists in the Air National Guard, theAir Force Reserve, and the Coast Guard are most likely to see their employeescalled to active duty. According to the U.S. General Accounting Office, nearlyone-fourth of the Air National Guard reservists were on active duty when thecurrent call-up peaked in March 2002, along with 10 percent of the Air ForceReserve and 15 percent of the Coast Guard. Other reserve units are operatingwith less than 10 percent of their members on active duty.

    "Military action with respect to Iraq will put anadditional strain on the civilian workforce," says LTC Jess Soto Jr., deputydirector of ombudsman services at the National Committee for Employer Support ofthe Guard and Reserve, in Arlington, Virginia. "Currently, the Guard andReserve are being used for missions that were traditionally filled by theactive-duty force. The unintended consequences of the increased use of theGuard and Reserve have yet to be discussed at the national decision-makinglevel."

Workforce, January 2003, p. 34 -- Subscribe Now!

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