Recall to Active Duty (2023)

Federal Law

10 U.S. Code § 688: Retired ADL or reserve officers may be ordered to active duty by a Service Secretary under regulations prescribed by the SECDEF. Officers who were selected for early retirement or who requested retirement after having been notified that there were to be considered for early retirement cannot be ordered to active duty. An officer ordered to active duty may not serve on active duty for more than 12 months within a 24-month period beginning with the first day of active duty. Chaplains, health professionals, officers serving with the American Battle Monuments Commission, and Defense or Service Attachés may serve for periods longer than 12 months. The exclusion for selective early retirement and limitation on tenure do not apply in time of war or national emergency.

10 U.S. Code § 688a: A Service Secretary may order to active duty a retired member who agrees to serve in a high-demand, low-density military capability that has been determined by the SECDEF to have funding, equipment, or personnel levels substantially below operational requirements. No more than 1,000 service members may be on active duty at any time under this provision. The authority is in addition to that provided in § 688 and does not count against the numerical constraints established in § 690. The authority expires on December 31, 2022.

10 U.S. Code § 689: Officers are ordered to active duty in their retired grade, with some exceptions. O9s and O10s serve in the highest permanent grade held while serving on active duty. Other officers who served in a grade higher than their retired grade may be ordered to active duty in that higher grade, up to O8. They are treated as if they were promoted to that higher grade while on that tour of duty and may retire at that higher grade if they satisfactorily serve a total of 36 months. Officers who are promoted to a higher grade while ordered to active duty may retire in that higher grade if they satisfactorily serve for at least six months in that grade.

10 U.S. Code § 690: Each service may have not more than 15 general or flag officers recalled to active duty at any one time. Those ordered to active duty for less than 60 days are not counted. With some exclusions, including chaplains and health care professionals, each service may have not more than 25 officers recalled to active duty at any one time. The limitations do not apply in time of war or national emergency.

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(Video) Spock's Deli: recall to active duty.

DoD Policy

DODI 1352.1: Regular retired members and members of the retired Reserve must be managed to ensure they are accessible for national security and readiness requirements. Retirees may be used as a manpower source of last resort after other sources are determined not to be available or a source for unique skills not otherwise obtainable.

Military retirees shall be ordered to active duty with full pay and allowances. In general, a retired member recalled to active duty will serve in the member's retired grade. Military retiree categories are defined as follows:

  • Category I: non-disability retirees under age 60 who have been retired fewer than 5 years.
  • Category II: non-disability retirees under age 60 who have been retired 5 years or more.
  • Category III: Retired military members, including those retired for disability or any retired member over 60 years old.

This Instruction covers status, accounting, and management of retirees; plans and procedures for mobilization; limitations on the use of retirees for augmentation; and deactivation of mobilized retirees.

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Air Force Policy

AFI 36-2008: A Voluntary Limited Period of Active Duty (VLPAD) provisions allows ARC members trained in specific AFSCs the opportunity to volunteer for EAD for three years and one day to fill vacant funded AD authorizations. Members are limited to one VLPAD tour per career, must be from the Selected Reserve of the AFR and ANG, and must have a conditional release from the ARC.

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AFI 36-3203: Implements U.S. Law pertaining to recall of retired officers.

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Army Policy

AR 601-10: Retired officers ordered to active duty voluntarily in support of peacetime operations will normally remain on active duty from 1 to 2 years. Retired aviation officers are generally recalled for a minimum of 2 years and a maximum of 3 years. Retired officers will be ordered to active duty in their current grade on the retired list unless otherwise directed by HQDA. Retired officers on active duty are not eligible for promotion. Retired officers may generally be used for the following positions:

  • Retired Soldiers ordered to AD, voluntarily or involuntarily, during mobilization, war, or national emergency, will normally remain on AD for the duration of the order which brings them to AD, unless an extension is granted.
    • Retired Soldiers ordered to AD voluntarily, in support of peacetime operations, will normally remain on AD from 1 to 2 years.
    • Retired aviation officers are generally recalled for a minimum of two years and a maximum of three years.
  • Retired Soldiers ordered to AD under 10 USC § 688 may not serve for more than 12 months within the 24 months following the first day of the AD performed pursuant to 10 USC § 688(e). This subsection does not apply in time of war or national emergency declared by Congress or the president pursuant to 10 USC § 688(f). Other temporary authority may be enacted by Congress relating to the recall of retired Soldiers. Such authority may be implemented by policy memorandum and subsequently published in an All Army activities message.
  • The following guidance applies for use of retired Soldiers:
    • To fill shortages or to augment deployed or deploying units and activities or units in the CONUS, Alaska, and Hawaii supporting deployed units.
    • To release other Soldiers for deployment overseas.
    • To fill Joint Manning Document and/or Worldwide Individual Augmentation System requirements.
    • To fill Federal civilian work force shortages within the DOD, Coast Guard, or other Government entities, subject to the limitations of 10 USC § 973.
    • To meet national security needs in organizations outside DOD which have Defense-related missions.
  • The following positions are not normally considered proper for assignment of a retired Soldier:
    • Statutory tours.
    • Individual Mobilization Augmentation positions that have been identified by the command as not suitable to be filled by a retiree.
    • Positions requiring a high level of physical conditioning.
    • Positions requiring an immediate high-level security clearance, unless the retiree was released from AD less than 2 years prior or maintains a clearance through civilian employment.
  • Retired officers who were retired pursuant to 10 USC § 638 (selective early retirement), or who requested and were voluntarily retired pursuant to 10 U.S. Code § after having been notified that the officer was to be considered for selective early retirement pursuant to 10 USC § 638, are ineligible to be called to AD (10 USC § 688(d)).
  • Retired Soldiers who volunteer for recall to AD are not subject to any age or grade limitation. Normally, retired Soldiers who volunteer for mobilization are not recalled to AD after reaching age 70. The DCS, G — 1 may approve exceptions for Army Medical Department (AMEDD) officers, Judge Advocate General's Corps (JAGC) officers and other retirees possessing critical shortage skills or specialties.
  • Retired Soldiers involuntary ordered to AD are subject to age and grade limitation. Retired Soldiers who reach age 60 prior to the announcement of a mobilization will not be involuntary mobilized. Retired Soldiers who reach age 60 after they have been involuntarily mobilized will remain on AD for the duration of the mobilization order.

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Navy Policy

MILPERSMAN 1811-010: Officers may not be recalled or retained if they will exceed authorized strength or affect promotion opportunity. Retired officers on active duty are not eligible for promotion because they are not on the active duty list. Officers may request retention or recall for a specific billet with unique circumstances or when qualifications for the billet cannot be met by other members of the active force. They may request retention in the billets from which they retire if needed to affect an orderly turnover or to successfully accomplish a mission requirement.

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a. An officer retired under selective early retirement (SER) may not be retained or ordered to Active Duty. If an officer was notified he or she would be considered for SER, but submitted a voluntary request for retirement per reference (a) prior to the SER board being convened, he or she may not be retained or ordered to Active Duty.

b. For flag officers, not more than 15 retired flag officers may be on Active Duty at any one time. A retired flag officer ordered to Active Duty for 60 days or less does not count against the 15 officer limit.

c. No more than 25 retired officers, of any pay grade, may be on Active Duty at any one time.

d. The period of retention in a retired status cannot exceed 1 year from the member's retirement date, or in the case of a recalled member, from the date the member reports back to Active Duty.

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e. Paragraphs c and d above do not apply to the following officers: (1) A chaplain assigned duty as a chaplain. (2) Health care professionals that are assigned duties as health care professionals. (3) An officer assigned duty with the American Battle Monuments Commission. (4) An officer assigned duty as a defense attaché or service attaché.

f. Paragraph c does not apply to any member of the Retiree Council of the Navy on Active Duty to attend the annual meeting of the Retiree Council. 1811-010 CH-39, 23 Apr 2012 Page 3 of 5.

g. Paragraphs a through d above do not apply in time of war or of national emergency declared by Congress, or the President.

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Marine Corps Policy

MCO 1900.16 CH 2: Marines may voluntarily request recall to active duty from the retired list or FMCR to fill valid billet requirements per 10 U.S. Code Section § 688. Recalled Marines must meet and maintain all active duty standards and requirements and are subject to the UCMJ.

(Video) Retiree Recall

If approved, recall orders to active duty will be issued by the CMC (MMSR-6). Upon conclusion of recall service, commanders will issue a DD Form 214 covering the period of recall service. Further administrative guidance will be contained in the recall orders.

Implements U.S. Law, DOD Policy and Navy Policy.

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Can I still be recalled to active duty? ›

The IRR remains as an adjunct to the active forces in times of emergency. The rules vary, but, generally speaking, any reservist can be recalled to active duty for the duration of a declared war or national emergency, plus an additional six months. This emergency or war declaration must be issued by Congress.

Can you be recalled to active duty after discharge? ›

Military members or retired personnel can be recalled to serve active duty if needed. Military officials distinguish military retirement/retainer pay as “reduced pay for reduced services” for this reason.

How long after retirement can you be recalled to active duty? ›

Members of the Retired Reserve may volunteer to be recalled to Active Duty in support of Contingency Operations. The Retiree Recall process takes approximately 120 days, however the process may be faster if the Retiree is a by-name request.

What happens if you don't respond to the IRR? ›

Answer: If you do not complete the muster, you could be considered an unsatisfactory participant and may be discharged which could also affect your benefits at separation. Not completing the muster will NOT keep you from being mobilized, if your grade/skills are needed in the future.

What disqualifies from active duty? ›

There are age, citizenship, physical, education, height/weight, criminal record, medical, and drug history standards that can exclude you from joining the military.

Can you rejoin the military with a disability rating? ›

Simply having a VA disability rating does not prevent someone from joining the military. However, the underlying medical condition may prevent someone from medically qualifying to serve again. For example, you can receive a VA disability rating for knee surgery that you had while on active duty.

Does dd214 show reason for discharge? ›

A change in the reason for your discharge is a change in the “narrative reason for separation” shown on your DD-214. Among the many possible “narrative reasons for separation” are “misconduct,” “disability,” “personality disorder,” and “homosexual conduct.”

Can you be charged under UCMJ after discharge? ›

Under Article Two of the Uniform Code of Military Justice, retired military personnel entitled to pay or receiving hospitalization benefits are subject to the UCMJ. The same goes for service members awaiting discharge after the enlistment term has expired.

Can you sue the military after discharge? ›

Military Pay Claims at the U.S. Court of Federal Claims

Federal law allows you to sue the U.S. government for payment of money as a result of the wrongful discharge, improper retirement, denial of promotion, service-related disability, and incorrect military records under some circumstances.


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