The Army Deferred Enlistment Program, or DEP is a program established to help deal with the volume of enlistments and limited availability of open “slots” for Basic Training. More simply put, when a Soldier walks into a recruiters office trying to enlist, you can’t simply sign and ship out that same day. The Basic Training units are structured such that they have their “slots” reserved months out. That means, that when you sign, you have to wait a while before you ship off to boot camp.
So, what happens typically is that when you “enlist” you are actually enlisting into the DEP. The DEP is essentially the inactive reserves. When you “enlist” at MEPS, you are realistically enlisting in the DEP and your signature is your agreement to report for Active Duty once that slot is scheduled. In essence, the DEP is a legal, binding contract (i.e. an enlistment) that secures you in the Army in an IRR status for up to a year.
The verbiage of the Enlistment Contract essential says that, “If you decide not to show up for your Basic Training ship date, the Army can order you to Active Duty and if you refuse, you could possibly face a military court-martial.” Now, please do your own due diligence here, as I am simply paraphrasing Paragraph 8a of a typical Enlistment Contract.
Please also understand that the National Guard and Reserves do not have a Delayed Enlistment Program. The second you raise your right hand and sign on the dotted line, you are in the NG or AR. The difference between the National Guard/AR and Active Duty is that the recruiter is assigning you to a “manpower” slot in a specific unit for which they know they need to fill a vacancy. If you decide to fold on your enlistment, then the receiving unit Commander become responsible for dealing with discharge packet.
I hope that helps to explain the DEP Process to all our viewers out there. For more information to the NG/AR Specifics of dealing with a discharge see AR 630-10. Chapter 5 should help clear up what you can do, as a Commander, to deal with a Soldier who refuses to ship. Unfortunately for us, Active Duty’s process is too easy.