TOUR OF DUTY: EXERCISING CONTROL OVER YOUR MILITARY CAREER
Just some dogs and ponies lining up for a show. Yes, I’m wearing a helmet. I don’t want to talk about it.
September 22, 2019
Something that’s been very interesting to me over the last two years is figuring out how to maintain the most options and flexibility as I move forward. I discuss this idea in “Should I Stay or Should I Go?” and in this article, I’m going to share a resource with you that can help.
At this point, I have no idea whether or not I’d want to come back into the Army later in life, within one of the many Reserve Component opportunities available. I also know that I have zero interest in being a “weekend warrior” at this point. The unpredictability and minimalism of unemployment, international travel, volunteering, and van life aren’t exactly conducive to having to show up once a month for weekend drill in the National Guard or Army Reserves.
This is where the IRR comes into play. If you’re not familiar with the IRR, check out my other article: The Individual Ready Reserves.
So I’m going to tell you about something called Tour of Duty. It’s a website that lists individual job vacancies for soldiers in any of the Reserve Component entities: IRR, IMA, USAR, ARNG. Essentially, you can serve on active duty orders, on your own terms, whenever you want. These periods of service are also referred to as “active duty for operational support orders,” or ADOS tours. From what I understand, the only current limitation is that you can only serve three consecutive assignments before you’re required to have a “break in service” for one calendar year. I haven’t seen this in writing, but this is what my Reserve Component recruiter told me during my separation counseling.
To access Tour of Duty, you have to use this site: https://mobcop.aoc.army.pentagon.mil/. I verified the site worked when I was on active duty and was able to access it with a CAC on a personal computer. A year after I wrote the original article, I couldn’t access the site because I didn’t have a CAC. It also appeared the link no longer worked. I read somewhere that the site had been further restricted to computers operating on a government network. Who knows. But the fact that this site is strictly CAC-enabled, and probably only accessible on a government computer when it’s literally intended for Reserve Component soldiers who may not have access to these resources is… clearly nonsensical, but pretty on-brand for the military.
Fast forward, and the Army Times published an article in December of 2021 stating that Congress passed a piece of legislation requiring the Army to make this site accessible to soldiers on their personal devices. The Army has a year to comply, so it’ll be interesting to see how the new site works if/when it launches. Additionally, another new policy added that Guard and Reserve soldiers can now spend five years out of every six on ADOS orders. Since none of this has happened yet, I’m going to show you what the site currently looks like (when I last viewed it), so you can see if it’s worth further investigation for your specific situation. Obviously, not all of you have access to a CAC or government computer and you’d have to maybe, go to an armory or a base to view the site. Since that could potentially be a pain in the ass, here’s a preview.
The photo above is the Mobilization Common Operating Picture (MOBCOP) website. This site is how you access Tour of Duty. You’ll need your CAC to log in. After you log in, select the light green box that says “Tour of Duty.” This will take you to the TOD homepage. Since you’re going to be searching for a job, some of the menu options across the top will be disabled, as they only apply to those who are posting job vacancies. Click on “Find Job/Volunteer,” circled in red below.
As you can see, there are 2,580 available jobs listed. I’ve blacked out some of the information that’s irrelevant to understanding how the site works. You can filter results using any of the column headers. The most applicable are rank and MOS. In this example, I filtered the listings by rank, for CPT, and by MOS, for 01A, which means branch immaterial.
So you can see that the results above are filtered by “CPT” and “01A.” There are 121 positions for 01A CPTs. From what I’ve found on the site, tours can be as little as 14 days, or as much as 400+ days. Anything above 365 days constitutes a PCS move, and you can bring your family. For these tours, you’re put on active duty orders, and you’ll receive active duty pay, TRICARE, and any other active duty benefits. There’s a lot more to the process, but this is generally how it works. Locations are both CONUS and OCONUS and are in some unique places. I found jobs in Utah, California, and all over Europe.
If you look at the column farthest on the right, it lists the “Soldier Category.” Different jobs are open to different entities. Some are only open to ARNG (Army National Guard) soldiers. Some are only open to IRR soldiers. And some are open to all.
From my perspective, if you’re in the National Guard or Reserves, this is a great tool to use if you’re maybe between civilian jobs and are looking to travel and want to go on Active Duty for a bit. It’s also a great way to work towards retirement benefits. For my specific situation, I decided to stay in the IRR following my Resignation from Active Duty (REFRAD), with the understanding I’d have Tour of Duty as an option.
Something my Reserve recruiter told me is that while a job may be open to applicants from all Reserve Component entities, a Guard or Reserve soldier may be more likely to be selected for a job vs IRR because their readiness metrics (MEDPROS, annual/350-1 training, etc) will likely be more up-to-date. If you’re in the IRR, chances are you aren’t going to drill on the weekends for MRT or cyber awareness training.
While that may be true, it will still be MUCH easier for me to transfer from the IRR back into the IMA, Guard, or Reserves vs how difficult it would be if I completely resigned my commission. So this is why I only resigned from Active Duty and opted to remain in the IRR. While I have no interest in the military now, I want to maximize my options. For enlisted personnel, you can have a break in service. I don’t know too much about how that all works, but you have some more wiggle room than officers do.
If you’re reading any of the information above and notice something is incorrect or outdated, please let me know. I do my best to update articles when policies change, but I miss things. Also, if you’ve gone through this process before and have input, feel free to hit me up. I’m just a random with some experience as Active Duty officer but no Reserve experience. I’ve compiled most of this information from odd corners of the internet, YouTube, the HRC website, and my Reserve Component recruiter… But, I haven’t been able to find a one-stop-shop source on IRR or IMA information.
I’m in the process of working with some generous people who’ve actually done ADOS tours and are sharing their experiences with me so I can share them with you. When I’m finished with the article, it will be linked here.
I appreciate you taking the time to read this and my hope is this information can empower you to take ownership of your life!