I know… I know… you’re scared.  Scared of leaving, scared of staying.  You feel like the clash!   This page is to help you at least learn the lingo of what all the reserve words mean and a little bit of background.

You might have to...


“Under the guidance provided by DOD Instruction 1304.25 of 25 August 1997, each person who becomes a member of the Armed Forces on or after 1 June 1984 shall serve in the Armed Forces for a total of 8 years. Any part of the service obligation that is not performed on active duty shall be performed in a Reserve component. “

In English, this means that if you did 4 years after ROTC or OCS, you still owe 4 years of reserve duty.  This can be in the form of IRR or SELRES, but you gatta do it.  For Academy types, your “2 for 7” was really a “2 for 10”.  

Types of Reserve Service

I’m going to list these from least involved to most:

IRR – Individual Ready Reserve

IRR – Even Peter could do it

          No Pay. No real requirements to show up.    Although some pubs say there is a yearly in person muster, I haven’t ever heard of these actually happening.  You are still on the hook if WW III starts though…  This is the default reserves you will go into if you leave after your initial service and still owe reserve service.  


Selected Reserve (SEL RES)  – “2 weeks a year, 1 weekend a month” of coloring books

          Despite the commercials, you will not get to slay lava monsters, nor will you have to do your reserve time exactly in this sequence.  There will be some “Mando Drill Weekends”  but for the most part, you can schedule your reserve time as you wish unless you are activated.    From talking with quite a few reservists, your quality of life/work will vary greatly depending on your unit.  For pilots, getting assigned to a Reserve Aviation Squadron or a Squadron Augmentation Unit (SAU), which is a reserve component attached to an active squadron to help it out (typically for training squadrons), is a definite step up from a NOSC. 

Beware:  you might love your “2 weeks a year, 1 weekend a month” job, however, SELRES reservists can and do get activated and get sent on deployments to Bahrain, Afghanistan and Iraq.  Anecdotally, these seem to be less frequent among members in active support roles like VQ squadrons as opposed to people at NOSCs.