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View Full Version : Key US Army ranks begin to thin



LiberalNation
05-02-2007, 07:16 PM
That's not good but then those guys are bit older with families I'd guess. I can see why 3 year long deployments might not go over so well.

http://news.yahoo.com/s/csm/20070502/ts_csm/aretain;_ylt=Auemg8Gab9IgVox6VdlXYgt34T0D

Washington - Thousands more mid-level enlisted soldiers are leaving the Army than in each of the past two years, forcing the service to increase its use of pay-to-stay programs and find other ways to keep GIs in the fold.

Four years into the fight in Iraq, the Army continues to be successful in retaining enough soldiers overall "a miracle" to some observers, because the war has lasted so long. But that success masks a growing problem within the ranks: Fewer mid-grade sergeants are opting to stay in the Army as many face yet another deployment to Iraq and, more important, Army officials say, less time at home.

While a reenlistment shortfall in any Army group is cause for concern, many consider the declining rate among mid-grade sergeants to be a sign of potential bigger reenlistment problems for the Army down the line. In addition, the fact that more mid-level soldiers are leaving could have a long-term impact on the Army's ability to grow future leaders.

The Army has seen the reenlistment rate of mid-grade enlisted soldiers drop 12 percentage points, from 96 percent during the first quarter of 2005 to a low of 84 percent for the first quarter of 2007, according to Pentagon data. As of March, the Army is as much as 10 percentage points behind where it was in retaining mid-grade soldiers at that time in 2005 and 2006. (The overall retention goal for mid-grade soldiers in fiscal year 2006 was about 25,000.)

Although Army officials say they will make their overall retention goals by the end of the fiscal year in September the decline means this will be the hardest year so far when it comes to keeping soldiers in uniform since the war in Iraq began.

How bad the problem is depends on whom you ask. To some, the trend is further proof that the war in Iraq has broken the back of the Army. Others believe it remains only an ominous warning light on the Army's collective dashboard but does not mean there is a crisis.

Either way, if mid-grade soldiers do not "re-up" in enough numbers, the Army will have a problem that will only worsen if not corrected soon.

"I am not alarmed to the point that we are breaking the Army, but [the numbers] are creeping up," says Army Lt. Gen. David McKiernan, who commands Army forces in Europe. "We can't lose the leadership of the US Army, or we will be broken."

Uniformed and civilian officials, both in and outside the Pentagon, have also expressed worry about the commissioned officer corps. The "loss rate" among lieutenants and captains has climbed since the war began, from 6 percent in 2003 to 8 percent in 2006.

Army officials have expanded incentive programs to keep soldiers in, raising the ceilings on reenlistment bonuses for soldiers in specific jobs from $15,000 to $20,000. It's also paying as much as $150,000 to retain soldiers in special-forces jobs.

In addition, the service has created an extra bonus of $7,500 for those who reenlist during fiscal year 2007. Many of these bonuses are tax-free if the reenlistment occurs in a war zone.

A recent Associated Press review of bonus programs shows that the Army and Marine Corps will spend more than $1 billion on reenlistment bonuses during fiscal 2007, up from $174 million in 2003.

The service has also tried to reassign soldiers who have deployed multiple times to nondeploying jobs within the Army, says Army Sgt. Maj. Scott Kuhar, a senior Army career counselor in the Pentagon.

All this raises both short- and long-term concerns about the health of the Army, says Larry Korb, a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress, a liberal think tank in Washington.

"The Army has got a tough job," says Mr. Korb, a personnel chief at the Pentagon in the 1980s. "They didn't start this war and they probably didn't want to have it, but now they have to deal with the consequences of it."

Korb worries that various pay-to-stay programs that the Army is employing may have a long-term effect by retaining soldiers who might otherwise have gotten out. "You want the people who love the Army and want to stay in," he says. While the money keeps them in for now, Korb adds, they won't stay when the reenlistment cash disappears.

Army officials counter that the average bonus paid to reenlist a soldier about $11,000 is not enough to fundamentally change the nature of the Army's soldier population and is only helping get the service through this rough period.

Others are not sounding the alarm, at least not yet. One who does not see a crisis is Bernard Rostker, who left as head of the Pentagon's personnel department in 2000. "There is going to be burnout, and this war is burnout No. 1," says Mr. Rostker, a senior fellow at the RAND Corp. "The miracle is that the force is still with us, not that we're down from 96 to 84 percent. To me, that's a good news story."

Army officials have found one interesting trend among soldiers who've been polled informally on what is driving them away: While many joined the service to go to combat in a war zone, it's the lack of time at home, or "dwell time," that hurts, Sergeant Major Kuhar says.

Under a new policy, units will not deploy with less than 12 months of time at home. But the larger goal is to give them two years between deployments a goal the military won't reach anytime soon.

"The No. 1 thing was dwell time," Kuhar says. "It came back loud and clear to us that they just want more time with their families or with their friends before they deploy."

Kathianne
05-02-2007, 07:19 PM
and that makes you happy?

LiberalNation
05-02-2007, 07:26 PM
No, that's why I said that's not good.

Kathianne
05-02-2007, 07:28 PM
No, that's why I said that's not good.

What do you think would fix it? I'm not so sure the 'causes' listed are the whole story. Considering the politics and one-sidedness in the media, I'm surprised they are retaining what they are.

LiberalNation
05-02-2007, 07:35 PM
I don't know what could fix it. The enlistment bonus are pretty good now it seems like. Shorter tours or more time between tours maybe.

Kathianne
05-02-2007, 08:00 PM
I don't know what could fix it. The enlistment bonus are pretty good now it seems like. Shorter tours or more time between tours maybe.

How about an administration that shouts what progress the troops have made? Makes public their sacrifices? We're at war dammit, yet it seems like the US is playing UN in disguise.

LiberalNation
05-02-2007, 08:04 PM
Sure the admin can shout it if they want. Seems like they do, Bush does go around speaking to military folks a lot telling them what a great job they're doing.

5stringJeff
05-02-2007, 08:19 PM
The Army will "grow" more NCOs. OR recall Gunny, dmp, etc. :)

Kathianne
05-02-2007, 08:56 PM
Sure the admin can shout it if they want. Seems like they do, Bush does go around speaking to military folks a lot telling them what a great job they're doing.

They already KNOW what they are doing and sacrificing, problem is all the public hears is what the MSM chooses to feed them.

Gaffer
05-02-2007, 09:13 PM
The problem is not that the administration is not providing the information. The pentagon releases info all the time. There are lots of operations going on in iraq and afganhistan. There are lots of enemy killed and captured. It's just not reported on the news unless there are US deaths and injuries.

We are at the mercy of the media. And they don't like Bush.

Kathianne
05-02-2007, 09:22 PM
The problem is not that the administration is not providing the information. The pentagon releases info all the time. There are lots of operations going on in iraq and afganhistan. There are lots of enemy killed and captured. It's just not reported on the news unless there are US deaths and injuries.

We are at the mercy of the media. And they don't like Bush.

He can garner coverage any time he wishes. He doesn't wish to. He doesn't trust the 'people.' As I said, Nixonian.

Gaffer
05-02-2007, 09:36 PM
He can garner coverage any time he wishes. He doesn't wish to. He doesn't trust the 'people.' As I said, Nixonian.

Your right about that. He doesn't come out and say what's going on and why. I can understand a certain amount of secrecy but he does seem to carry it too far.

zefrendylia
05-02-2007, 09:59 PM
What do you think would fix it? I'm not so sure the 'causes' listed are the whole story. Considering the politics and one-sidedness in the media, I'm surprised they are retaining what they are.

You cannot fight a prolonged war of attrition with an "all volunteer" army. I talked to several of these mid-level sergeants going back to Iraq for their 2nd tour. Two of them regretted taking the tax-free signing bonus last time they were in Iraq in '04. They honestly thought they would not be going back again. Both said they were getting out as soon as they redeployed. I talked to another sergeant who didn't have an opinion of the war, but was going to get some job experience so he could be a "tactical operator" on the outside making big bucks.

In a room of over 20 lieutenants stationed in Korea in 2005, only 4 said they were thinking about staying in the Army past their obligation. I read the Army is now short thousands of Majors across the board--you can triple that number for Captains. These are essential mid-level officers.

Why are they getting out? Simply distaste for Army life in general and repeated deployments. The guys who stay in either love the comraderie, the adrenaline rush of war, or have no where else to turn for a job. A buddy of mine supported the war entirely but was getting out after redeploying. He said he wanted to pursue other things. It baffled me how he believed this was a righteous war for our survival, yet after doing his time he was willing to walk away.

The only thing that would fix this situation is a draft. You cannot volunteer (or keep) enough people when 66% of the country wants to see the war over soon one way or another.

BTW--The Christian Science Monitor on which the yahoo link is based is a very insightful newspaper with journalists who do better-than-average investigative reporting. I would be careful in being so cynical as to label ALL media with a political bias. I think we forget how easily the so-called liberal mainstream media--CNN, NY Times, NBC, WP, etc. supported the case for war without any skepticism whatsoever.

LiberalNation
05-02-2007, 10:03 PM
We are at the mercy of the media. And they don't like Bush.

Not all the media and what would you suggest to fix it. State run media only?