Friday, April 28, 2006

Silencing of the Military Retirees?

A Department of Defense directive released on April 18 of this year states that Donald Rumsfeld has the authority to call military retirees back on active duty.

The Practical Nomad reports that:
Exhausting all means of getting people into uniform short of a draft, yesterday the USA Department of Defense published new regulations on Management and Mobilization of Regular and Reserve Retired Military Members (32 CFR 64, 71 Federal Register 19827-19829, 18 April 2006)…

…The only time in the last 40 years, before the current wars, that military retirees were recalled to active duty was during the crisis in military staffing in medical professions in the first USA-Iraq war in 1990-1991, when the call-ups of retirees began with retired physicians' assistants. The new regulations provide for the possible call-up of any and all retired soldiers, but the first call-ups of retirees are likely to be of those with medical or perhaps other specialized skills.

The DoD directive does, in fact, make anyone drawing military retirement pay eligible to be recalled to service at the pleasure of the Secretary of Defense, and they assigned to virtually any federal "wartime" position that the government deems fit. No further permission of Congress is required because such measures are already allowed under Title 10 of U.S. Code. It is not subject to review under numerous federal laws such as Unfunded Mandates Reform Act or the Regulatory Flexibility Act because, among other reasons, the cost isn't expected to exceed $100 million in any one year.

In other words, the life of every American citizen who retired honorably from the United States military is under the direct control of one Donald H. Rumsfeld.

Why Now?

We're over three years into the Iraq war and almost five years into the Global War on Terror. Why is the Secretary of Defense just now deciding he needs to draw on the retired military community? Why does the entire retired community need to be in the eligible pool? Why wasn't this directive announced at the DoD website, and why hasn't the mainstream media covered it?

A number of possible answers to these questions exist, of course, but the release of the directive on the heels of the well publicized revolt of the retired generals is timing too close to dismiss as pure coincidence.

While the retired generals critical of the war and Rumsfeld have received the most attention in the media, scores of military retirees of lower pay grades have voicing their displeasure with the administration and the Pentagon for years. As dissent began to disappear from traditional military publications--rumored to have been by the order Rumsfeld himself--many retired war critics took refuge in the Internet. My personal experience and anecdotal evidence shared by fellow military affairs writers indicate that numerous government agencies have been keeping tabs on web sites that regularly publish articles unfavorable to the war effort by military retirees and other veterans.

Just Because You're Paranoid…

Up until about two years ago, I'd have considered the kind of thing I'm suggesting is going on to be a wild eyed conspiracy theory. But given the Bush administration's track record for ruthlessly suppressing any and all political opposition, I find the notion that it is tracking military dissenters more likely than unlikely.

According to the just released directive, if the Department of Defense finds retirees it wants to shut up, all it has to do is call them back to active duty. It doesn't really matter how old or disabled the retirees are, or whether they have any specialty the DoD could possibly use, because Rumsfeld has essentially written himself a blank check to tap anyone he wants to.

Once retirees are back on active duty, they come under the Uniform Code of Military Justice and their constitutional rights--including the right to freedom of speech--are essentially stripped from them.

If retirees resist a call back to active duty, they'll be in violation of federal law and subject to criminal prosecution either under the UCMJ or civilian law. This would likely lead to, at the very least, loss of all retirement pay and benefits.

Does this sound like a trick too dirty for even the Bush administration to pull? Not to me it doesn't.

I doubt that Rumsfeld would pull this kind of number on the retired generals who have publicly called for his resignation. Their cases are already too high profile to sneak under the radar.

But if any of you lesser retired beings get a call in the middle of the night, please let somebody know about it.


  1. This is just Machiavellian enough to fit Rumsfeld to a T.

    BTW I linked to Pen and Sword
    on my site.

    I enjoy your work

    Bob Higgins
    Worldwide Sawdust

  2. "Machiavellian" is the perfect word for it, Bob. Thanks for stopping by and thanks for the link.



  3. "It's nothin' personal, just bidness, you understand..." It's mob tactics. Racketeering, whatever you want to call it.

    "Machiavellian" is giving it too much credit for style.

    My uncle, 57, Vietnam chopper pilot, still flies commercial planes; he got a letter and call over a year ago. Told 'em no way, not now; I couldn't pass the physical anyway!

    No problem, they said.

    Wonder if he'll get another round of contacts now?

  4. Could be, Jeff. I wanted to get this out in the 'sphere to make as many possible aware of what's going on in case something drastic goes down.

  5. The Bush administration is within 1000 days of leaving and you'd think there'd be some concern about legacy. Recalling retirees to silence them would be a hell of a legacy, but as you point, it's well under the radar.

  6. Most of the right wing voices I've heard lately are invoking the section of the UCMJ that says retirees of the regular service branches are subject to the UCMJ.

    Well, let's bring Ollie North back and hammer him for criticizing Clinton.

  7. I'd be very curious to know EXACTLY what part of the UCMJ supposedly controls the actions of retired military personnel, who are, by definition of being retired, in fact, de jure, civilians.

  8. Anonymous4:28 PM

    Unfortunately, he wouldn't even have to call them back to active service to try them.

    (a) The following persons are subject to this chapter:
    (4) Retired members of a regular component of the armed forces who are entitled to pay.

    So the fact that he released this directive is perhaps a subtle way of telling them to shut up without making it too obvious. Or maybe he's planning on needing an influx of troops soon for some other foray into warmongering.

  9. Lurch and Navywife:

    Great follow up comments, and the grist of an article I'll publish next week.

    As for the "Retired members of a regular component of the armed forces who are entitled to pay," business, I don't imagine that would hold up as constitutional if ever challenged in the civilian courts.

    For starters, what does "entitled to pay" mean? Is my retirement check "pay" or is it an annuity, benefit, etc.? Does "pay" refer to some kind of retainer pay for services rendered above and beyond my retirement?

    Next, how does the UCMJ justify holding "regular" retirees to a different standard from reserve retirees making the same pay. One can conceivably stay on active duty full time for twenty years as a reservist and draw the same retirement pay as one's regular counterpart.

    But at heart, the notion of a "regular retiree" being subject to the UCMJ is loaded with internal fallacies. Can an active duty Colonel order a retiree to do something and punish him if he doesn't do it? I hardly think so.

    But perhaps more to the point as far as first amendment rights are concerned is this passage from a Slate article by Fred Kaplan:

    "Any commissioned officer [and, under Article 2, this includes any retired officer] who uses contemptuous words against the President, the Vice President, Congress, the Secretary of Defense, the Secretary of a military department, the Secretary of Transportation [!], or the Governor or legislature of any State, Territory, Commonwealth, or possession in which he is on duty or present, shall be punished as a court-martial may direct. [Italics and exclamation mark added.]"

    What constitutes "contemptuous words" in the Howard Stern age?

    And what constitutes a "commissioned officer?"

    Kaplan thinks the term covers retired commissioned officers, but is there such a thing as a "retired commissioned officer?"

    As a senior commissioned military officer, Commander Jeff Huber, U.S. Navy, had quite a few authorities Under the UCMJ. Commander Jeff Huber, U.S. Navy (Retired) has none. The title is just an honorific. I can't put on a uniform and tack silver oak leaves on my collar and walk on a military base and start acting like real life Navy commander. So how am I still a commissioned officer?

    Can I order anybody of a lower paygrade, retired or otherwise, to do anything? No.

  10. Thanks, NavyWife and Cmdr Huber. (Courtesy title, since to my knowledge said Huber is retired and therefore not longer subject to the provisions of UCMJ, per UCMJ, SubChapter 1, Art 802.2 (4).

    "Pay" as defined by the CFR is pay for work or service performed. "Retiree pay" is defined as "pension." There is a difference, de jure and de facto. (I know if I'm erring in my citation, I will expect Len Clevelin to correct me, publicly. I will be grateful to expoand my knowledge of Federal law at his knee.)

    In the last part of his commentary directly above Cmdr Huber makes the point: he is retired. He's a private citizen. His commission was terminated by virtue of his retirement and I'll be willing to bet that somewhere among his rollout papers he has a form that states his commission as an officer in the US Navy was terminated.

    You know, the FIRST clue that these generals are not subject to UCMJ was in the citing source.

    When have you EVER seen a wingnut blog or websource cite something truthfully and/or accurately?

    Take your time providing some citations. I'll be counting the cricket chirps until I get a response, because I understand you can determine the temperature by counting the chirps per minute.

  11. Anonymous6:27 PM

    My dad can't wait to get back in, (Ret. Capt.) Air Force. 83 years old and has Alzheimer's, get that cannon fodder out there! He dislikes bu$h with a passion.
    I have never seen a Once Great Country turn to crap so quickly.
    I think if they do get a lot of the military retirees in, they better be worried about a coup.
    I know my brother in law working at Blackwater will not be pleased! What a paycut!

  12. Oh, could we ever make hay if your dad got called up! ;-)

  13. And the first retired officer to be recalled and court-martialed should be...Rep. John Murhtha.

    Puhleeez! Nobody's thought through the consequences of actually doing this kind of thing. I've been, uh, shall we say, um, lukewarm, on the whole Rumsfeld and Iraq War thing from the beginning, but actually contemplating recalling anyone for this is ridiculous on its face.

  14. On another note, review 10 USC 688 for rules on which retired members can be recalled and note that there's no reason necessary for the recall, and in time of war, no limits on length of recall.

    A "retired member" is not separated from the service, he's merely transferred to the retired section of the inactive list.

  15. Nice try, Yankee, but you're talking crap.

  16. And I didn't mean that as a personal insult. I'm just saying that the notion that retirees are subject to the UCMJ is specious. That's the nicest term I can think of to describe it.

  17. I think RADM Seldon G. Hooper would agree with you, but the court upheld his recall and prosecution (U.S. v. Hooper, 26 CMR 417). To paraphrase the sentiments of the court, so long as you take the King's shilling, you're the King's Man.

  18. Sailor,

    There are a couple things I'm not entirely clear about in Hooper's case. Was he recalled to duty from the retired ranks? (That's legal under title 10.) Do general and flag officers actually retire or simply go on an inactive list? Did Hooper attempt to appeal the jurisdiction ruling in a civil court, or just let the issue drop (embarrassed enough already)?

    If I run across the answers I'll sure let you know.

  19. In every other arena, retirement pay is considered to be "deferred compensation" - money earned while working and set aside for the employee by the employer. (These days, I guess, corporations view that money as their own to take back, but that's clearly a violation of the moral principle and ought to be a violation of law, another issue.)

    If it really is true that a new recruit is signing away his/her Constitutional rights for life, shouldn't that be made abundantly clear from the very beginning? (I wonder how that would impact recruiting efforts.)

    I can see very good reasons to avoid active-military criticism of the civilian command, but it also seems that ex-military folks are some of the most expert authorities we (average citizens) have when it comes to evaluation of past battlefield decisions. Are retirees supposed to just shut up and die?

  20. The law on retired pay is a little schizophrenic from what I've read. Cases like U.S. v. Hooper, treat it not as deferred compensation, but as retainer pay. Family law, however (as Skippy San will gladly share with you - at length) treats military retired pay as equivalent to proceeds from an annuity.

  21. You say the Bushites have a 1000 days to go? They should be concerned about a legacy??

    There isn't going to be another election in AmeriKa. Are all you people sleeping?? We have a dictator in Washington---get used to it.

  22. Anonymous5:29 AM

    I have a feeling I will probably be among the first.
    Very few punches pulled. I'll post you if I get my recall.

  23. Anonymous7:39 AM

    Y'know, last year I saw an expose' on 60 Minutes on a brewing scandal about this very thing. Apparently the DoD has been recalling military retirees on the basis of some bizzare loophole. Upon discharge, a soldier is meant to do some paperwork or other, but generally no one ever does this particular procedure and are never told to. I can't remember the name of it, but it is something which is totally ignored, even though it is technically supposed to be done. Anyway, the DoD was using this fact to claim that all those who hadn't submitted this particular paper that they were never told about were technically still in active service, and could be asked to serve any time. I saw interviews with several different people in their 40s and 50s who had served honourably and were getting on with their lives, only to be told that they had to go to Iraq. There was one grandmother in her late 50s who was refusing to go, and was likely going to go to prison! Another guy, 48, had served for many years and had recently married, bought a house, had a new baby....he was being told to go to Iraq or prison even though his waife and baby were totally dependant on his income, and his business would be totally ruined if he left it. I don't know what happened with this story. The mainstream media certainly has buried it. It's one worth digging into....

  24. Hello William, oldranger, and ifirehorse.

    I looked this up in title 10, and it pretty much looks like they can recall whoever they want to within certain limits. I've lost the link to the pertinent sections of title 10. Will get back to you if I run across it again.

  25. Anonymous11:57 AM

    No such thing as retirement (in the military or civlian life). This is the beginning (don't you remember what Bush said). Israel's war against Palestine and Lebanon is the undercard. As Israel aggressively kills Lebanese (and Palestinians who have been forgotten), the US erodes rights at home by detaining peaceful protestors, pressuring Amazon to drop the book "America Deceived" by E.A. Blayre III, stealing private land, renewing the Patriot Act and illegally wire-tapping ALL PHONES. Soon, the US army will invade Iran (or Syria) and the entire Middle East will dissolve into chaos. Mix in another false-flag attack on US soil (like 9/11) and the masses will beg for the 'safety' of One World Gov't.
    Defy them, last link (before Google Books caves to pressure and drops the title):
    America Deceived - Book

  26. Anonymous1:19 PM

    In 1973 I left (not retired from) the Air Force after almost 12 years service. I was asked whether I wanted to turn in my commission or keep it active.
    The difference was that with the former choice I would not be subject to recall (having served the 8 years which fullfilled the active duty service commitment at that time) while with the latter I could be recalled in an emergency but would return at my last permanent rank.
    Wanting a completely secure break from the military I turned in my commission. If any of you got out without retiring and held your commission, you may wish to check on this situation. Those contemplating leaving service without retiring may wish to consider the additional risk in retaining your commission.

  27. Anonymous2:23 PM

    20 Years,(retired USAF E-7)who drew Flight Pay, been in severe accidents, shot at, stress, loss of functions, drawing disability, and yet it isn't enough! How much does a person have to give to finally be free? I could see it if we were under the gun (such as WWII) but damn...all Iraq is, is just another Vietnam, Young Men and Women being killed and wounded both physically and mentally for no apparent gain! Kick out the media and turn them loose and let them really get the job done as quickly and as safely as possible.

  28. Anonymous1:57 PM

    I have heard a lot of whiners but you take the cake. Ithas been well known for years that recall ispossible for temporaryshortfall. Afact you agreed to when you stayed until retirement.

  29. I have heard a lot of idiots, and almost all of them sound like you.

  30. Anonymous7:35 PM

    Stop your b****ing, you knew the score when you retired. If the country needs you...YOU GO! That law wasn't passed by the prez or the SOD, it was passed by congress 50 years ago.

    E7 USA RET

  31. Anonymous9:06 AM

    I never knew I was subject to recall after retirement until I did my DD214. So YOU are wrong. People who did twenty years didn't know til it was too late.

    So save your high-and-mighty speech pal.

    Retired AF

  32. Anonymous6:48 AM

    FWIW: U.S. Supreme Court in Barker v. Kansas, 503 U.S. 594. The U.S. Supreme Court held that retiree pay was for past services.

    So if the Supreme Court said it was for past services how can it be "retainer" pay. Seems like a conflict in the Courts decisions. Leave it to psycho politicians to inadvertantly sorting issues out by bringing them to a head. Lol.

  33. Anonymous4:36 AM

    Think recall of retirees is unlikely? Just got a letter and form in the mail Dec 06.

    ARPC Form 69 V1 (Sep). It asks for current contact info, declares it is to seek interest only "nothing more" in coming back on Active Duty for the GWOT. It adds that compliance in completing and returning the form is mandatory as is medical documentation if medically unqualified for military service.

  34. Anonymous8:54 PM

    I recieved my ARPC Form 69 in the mail today. I read all the comments here and thought I would add my two cents.

    Why should I fill in the form? There was no 'order', written or verbal, directing me to complete this form. There was a piece of paper with some instructions on it, but it wasn't even on a DOD letterhead, let alone signed or stamped by a 'competent, military authority'.

    It doesn't matter what the UCMJ or USC say becuase the government will do what it wants to do. The only thing you can do if it happens is stand your ground and hope the country stands beside you or you can submit.

  35. Anonymous1:13 PM

    It *does* matter what the UCMJ Article 2, Para (a.), subparagraph 4. If you were in the military long enough to retire, you had plenty of time to read the fine print. This hasn't changed in a LONG time. When you retired, you didn't just "retire" and you're not receiving a "pension". You retired from active duty and were transferred to the reserves. When you're in the reserves, you're subject to recall, duh. The check you get every month is a "retainer for reduced services" as the Supreme Court has ruled. Those "reduced services" include being available for recall to active duty, check your DD Form 214. That's why your "retirement" check can be canceled in certain circumstances, like if you get convicted of a felony and are in prison, if you go to work for a foreign government, etc. Those things make you ineligible for service with the US Armed Forces, thus your retainer is canceled.

  36. I am retired, not in the reserves. They can call me back on active duty, but I am not subject to UCMJ until then.

  37. Anonymous12:39 PM

    Well Jeff, I don't know what to say except that water's wet and they sky is blue, and no matter how much you want to say that water is dry, that doesn't make it true. The UCMJ isn't just some disembodied entity that only applies to active duty, it's federal law, codified in Title 10 of the US Code. When you retired from active duty, you transferred to the inactive reserves. Just like a 4-year enlistee who gets out transfers to the inactive reserve for the next 4 years until their 8-year service obligation is over. It's right there on the enlistment contract in black and white (I still have mine). If you didn't want to be subject to the UCMJ and recall, you should've just separated. Yes, you can do that...nobody twisted your arm to "retire". That's why you have to APPLY and be approved for retirement. You CAN just separate after 20+ years. Nobody forced you to sign that DD214 that said "retirement". True, you won't get that nice check every month, but you also won't have any further obligation. I've seen guys recalled just to be court-martialed, and I laughed my ass off because they had the same opinion you do. Like I said, if you were in long enough to retire, then you were in long enough to read the fine print and know what the law says. If you don't like it, renounce your citizenship or rob a bank or something.

    MSgt Stacey Ward, USAF, (ret)

  38. Regular officers retire, Msster Sergeant, we don't transfer to the reserves.

    Curious that you're jumping on this thread right now. Who do you work for these days?


  39. Anonymous12:14 PM

    This blog seems pretty old but I am just now reading it. Here are the facts about retiree mobilization:

    Currently, the President does not have the authority to involuntarily recall retirees from the Retired Reserve, except on a limited basis for those retirees with 20 years of active duty (10 USC 688). Since 9/14/01 the President has used Partial Mobilization authority (10 USC 12302) which permits the callup of only the Ready Reserve. The Retired Reserve is NOT part of the Ready Reserve. This level of mobilization only requires a declaration of an emergency by the President which was done by Executive Order on 9/14/01.

    In order for the President to involuntarily recall reserve retirees, he needs authority for FULL mobilization under 10 USC 12301, which requires a declaration of war by Congress. As of this date Congress has made no such declaration. Bottom line - Under current federal law the President cannot recall reserve retirees involuntarily at the current level of mobilization.

    Another comment regarding the UCMJ - It only applies to people who are on active duty (Title 10 Status), it doesn't even apply to National Guard soldiers in a reserve status. National Guard soldiers who commit crimes on active duty bases during their Annual Training period must be processed by the local police because they're on Title 32 status instead of Title 10 status. So, they aren't subject to UCMJ. Trust me folks, I know.

  40. Anonymous6:06 AM

    I"m active duty with 18 years in and on the downhill slope. I'm not afraid of being recalled in the event of a severe national emergency. The thing that bothers me is that today we all had to watch a powerpoint presentation meant to discourage certain types of behavior and then sign a statement saying we had watched it and understood. As I get older and time passes I increasingly disagree with some of the things that some liberal force in the military tries to preach to control our lives. I volunteered to fight and die if need be, but not to be some social experiment for the liberal agenda. The problem with what I saw today is they said in the show that "UCMJ applies to retirees". That was new to me and I had never heard of it before. This is something I should probably know being a E7 with 18+ years in and I had never heard of it........I have no real problem with being called back in a National emergency..... But based on what I saw today the intend to start threatening us after retirement for all sorts of things. AT this point I look back at a buddy of mine who got out as a E7 with 14 years in mostly over this sort of thing and think he was smarter than I realized.