The Army is Broke!

I am a member of the 445 Civil Affairs Battalion, US Army Reserves. We have known for some time now that we would be mobilizing. Over the past few months the command has been hammering out the details of exactly how that process would play out. At the end of June we recieved pre-mobilization active duty for training orders (pre-mob ADT or pre-mob) with a report date of 21 July 2008. The orders were for 38 days. The purpose of pre-mobilization orders is to provide the unit with some additional time to train and prepare for the upcoming mobilization. Typically, the unit goes from pre-mob orders to actual mob orders without a break. It can be argued that pre-mobilization orders are an end run around current SecDef policy which says that Reserve and Guard mobilizations will be for a maximum of one year. Interestingly enough, the orders usually read 400 days. Kind of have to wonder where the extra 34.7575 days came from?

My employer has been very supportive of my military service. Out of my respect for that support, I try to be as timely as possible in informing my employer about upcoming military events that will require my absence. As soon as I recieved a written copy of my orders, I submitted them to my employer. My employer made accommodations for the fact that these are not involuntary mobilization orders but are in conjunction with involuntary mobilization orders. So, they gave me the benefits that I will recieve once I am on the actual mobilization orders. With everything in place for me to go on a military leave of absence and report on 21 July 2008, I took one week’s vacation to spend time with my family before things started getting crazy.

Today, Friday at 1417 (2:17 pm) I recieved an email telling me that my orders to report on 21 July 2008 have been cancelled. I am not to report on 21 July. New orders will be issued with report date of 01 August 2008. This is because there is no money to pay us for 38 day. I called my command to confirm this because I really could not believe that they were cancelling these orders at 2:17 in the afternoon of the Friday before we are suppose to report. My employer expects that I’m going to be gone for a year to 14 months. Imagine his surprised when I called him Friday afternoon. Fortunately, I am employed at a large corporation. I explained the situation to my manager and asked if he could find work for me to do for another month while the Army holds a bake sale or something to raise the money to pay us. I want to point that no one from the 445 CA BN called my employer to explain what happened and apologize for the inconvenience and trouble caused them. The Army apparently thinks that is my job.

I have some options in how I choose to respond to this. I can simply do what they, my chain command, asks. Whatever day they finally arrive at, they’ll cut a new set of orders, I can resubmit those to my employer, have them redo everything and then show up as ordered. Or, I can refuse the orders. At some point the actual involuntary mobilization orders will show up. I can’t refuse those but those are pretty solid and reliable. People like the Secretary of Defense’s office have to sign those. It’s much more likely that someone has already made sure there’s money in the bank to pay us.

So, what is the cause of all these problems and drama? The unit could simply wait for the official, from the President, pack your crap, you’re going to Iraq, involuntary mobilization orders. The one year clock would start the day we report. We would spend a couple days or a week at our home station, getting everyone and everything together and ready to go. Then, we would move to a Mobilization Site (Mob Site). There we would process into the active duty Army (medical, dental, payroll), get issued whatever new gear and complete the required training cycles for deployment. Then we would move to green ramp where we would wait for an airplane to take us to wherever we’re suppose to go. All told, it would be about 100 to 130 days for us to get to doing the job we’re suppose to do, where we’re suppose to do it. Because we can only be moblized for 12 months, we need to leave the place 30 to 45 days before our clock runs out so that we can be out-processed in time.

The purpose of pre-mobilization orders is to reduce the amount of time spent at the Mob Site. Reduce that 100 to 130 days. By doing training on voluntary pre-mobilization orders, the amount of time spent at the Mob Site can be reduced. Keep in mind, the total amount of time the soldier spends on active duty is increased by the number of days on the pre-mobilization orders. So, if a soldier goes on 45 day pre-mob orders, the total time spent on active duty will be 445 days. The primary purpose of pre-mob orders is to increase the amount of time the soldier spends “boots on the ground,” “in country”. Pre-mobilization is not intended to make things better or easier for the soldier or his family or his employer. Pre-mobilization benefits the Army.

The problem comes in that, the money for pre-mob orders does not come from Big Army but rather from major commands. In the of 445 CA BN, that would be U.S. Army Civil Affairs and Psychological Operations Command (USACAPOC). Apparently, someone only today discovered that there is not enough money to do as planned. If we simply wait until the involuntary orders arrive, the money comes from Big Army.

To my knowledge, no other branch of service does this. When I mobilized with the Navy in 2003, there were no pre-mob orders. Everyone showed up when the involuntary mobilization orders said to. We recieved the orders 30 days in advance. The Air Force guys that I’ve talked to have no idea what I’m talking about when I say pre-mob orders.

aloha

[posted with ecto]

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