Hip Pocket Orders usually refers to the orders a military retiree has that give him authority to travel to his or her mobilization duty assignment. The Army eliminated Hip Pocket Orders in 1966.
Retiree pre-assignment or Hip Pocket orders ceased to exist in August 1996.The idea was to notify people by Telegram. Now the telegram has been eliminated, except for wire transfers of money.
For those who want more detail, here is some history from 1987. Others can skip down below the block quote:
Army retirees (Regular Army, Army of the United States, USAR, ARNG) are assigned to three categories. Category I consists of persons (nondisability) under age 60 (62 for warrant officers) who have been retired for less than five years. Category II consists of persons with the same qualifications as Category I who have been retired longer than five years. Category III includes persons who retired as a result of a physical disability as well as retirees who are unqualified for either Category I or II. Of the more than 532,000 retirees, over 232,000 are assigned to categories I and II and are eligible to receive involuntary mobilization preassignment (hip pocket) orders under the recall program. These preassignment orders tell the retirees when and where they are to report for active duty during a national emergency and a mobilization of the forces. The selection of retirees to receive hip pocket orders is based on the grade and skill requirements at the 56 mobilization stations in the United States. Not all eligible retirees receive orders, as there are more retirees than there are requirements at the installations. The program also allows the retiree to volunteer for assignment to an installation of his or her choice, provided there is a suitable vacancy at the installation. Of the more than 232,000 retiree assets, over 122,000 have been issued preassignment orders. This figure includes more than 6,700 volunteers from all three categories and over 3,400 retirees who reside overseas and are assigned to reporting stations in Europe and Korea.But, in common use "Hip Pocket" orders are any direction to do this or that in the event of some contingency. For example, "Take out the trash if I am not feeling well." That is pretty straight forward to me.
The other thing that goes with this term, in my mind, is "Blanket TDY Orders." Sometimes when we were flying cross country flights over the weekend (leaving on Friday and coming back Sunday evening, having flown to four or five different airbases for navigation and instrument flying practice) we would have Blanket TDY Orders to allow us to do this or that if required. For example, the Command Post might call us up and direct us to go to some specific place and pick up something. You had orders with you to justify that you were on orders doing what you were doing. These also helped us get a room at the local Visiting Offiers' Quarters on Friday and Saturday night (if, for example, you were not in London, seeing a show).
Ah, the good old days. It was like it was only yesterday. It was only yesterday. Someone just compressed the last 30 years.
Regards -- Cliff