What is the Individual Ready Reserve?

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  • Written By: Misty Amber Brighton
  • Edited By: Michelle Arevalo
  • Last Modified Date: 12 September 2019
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The Individual Ready Reserve (IRR) is an organization associated with the reserve components of the United States military. Members are former service personnel who have a remaining obligation on their contracts, but do not want to participate in the military as an active member of a reserve unit. These service members can fulfill their remaining obligation by being a member of the Individual Ready Reserve, in which they remain until called to active duty. This may be in the event of a national emergency or in a time of war.

A person typically becomes a member of the Individual Ready Reserve when he is released from active duty before completing his initial eight-year military service obligation. At that time, the soldier will be automatically placed into the IRR, unless he voluntarily joins a reserve unit. Soldiers who are in the military reserve may request a transfer to the IRR, if circumstances make it difficult to attend monthly drills. This can happen if a soldier relocates some distance away from a reserve center. He can also be placed in the IRR in the event of unsatisfactory performance in the reserves.


Individual Ready Reserve members are not obligated to attend monthly battle assembly meetings or periods of annual training. Also, since they are not actively drilling, they do not receive any pay or benefits. Members can elect to voluntarily perform short periods of active duty on an as-needed basis. During these, members of the IRR are paid according to their rank and time in service, and receive all other entitlements, such as the basic allowance for housing.

Members of the Individual Ready Reserve carry identification cards that entitle them to commissary and Post Exchange shopping privileges. They must also maintain their uniforms in case of mobilization. These soldiers are required to attend periodic musters, or meetings, designed to assess the readiness of IRR members. Members are also required to keep the Human Resources Command apprised of changes of address or any medical conditions that could affect their ability to deploy or serve.

Upon being called to active duty, members of the IRR are screened for health issues and given any necessary vaccinations. A records review is also conducted. Updates are made to emergency contact data and beneficiaries for the servicemember’s life insurance.

Members of the IRR have been called to active duty in support of many major conflicts, including Operation Desert Storm and the Global War on Terrorism. They are usually called individually, to fill positions vacated by active duty units. The Individual Ready Reserve plays a vital part in the security of the United States.


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