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September 08, 2003

TROOP STRENGTH BLUES....Tours of duty are being extended for reserve troops:

With U.S. forces stretched thin in Iraq and the Bush administration still searching for additional international peacekeepers, the Army has ordered thousands of National Guard and Army Reserve forces in Iraq to extend their tours in the country to a year, months longer than many of the troops had anticipated, Army officials said yesterday.

....The order comes after months of concern inside and outside the Army that an over-reliance on Guard and Reserve forces by the Bush administration in the war on terrorism could adversely affect retention and recruiting. Some officials have expressed concern that this could break the Guard and Reserve system, which augments the active-duty force with critical engineering, military police, civil affairs and psychological operations specialists.

I don't know if this is entirely rational, but I feel worse for the reserve troops than I do for the regulars. It's hard on the families of both, but at least the families of the regular troops know what they signed up for. The families of the reserve troops, on the other hand, never expected to lose both their spouses and their incomes for periods of over a year. It must be hellishly tough on them.

I also wonder when (if?) we're going to see this have an effect on recruitment and retention. I've been hearing about this for at least six months now, but haven't yet seen any figures to back it up. How often does the Army report on this kind of stuff?

One other note: this has been coming out in dribs and drabs, but so far we've seen the following: (a) keeping the 3rd ID in country after scheduling them to return, (b) rotating officers and senior NCOs out of their units, (c) extending the tours of regular troops, (d) appealing to the UN in order to get more foreign troops, and now (e) extending the tours of reservists. These are all risky moves, and when you put them all together they indicate that there must be a serious sense of panic about troop strength and force protection among the Army brass. I wonder how bad it really is?

Posted by Kevin Drum at September 8, 2003 10:16 PM | TrackBack


Comments

Why don't we send the graduating class from Yale?

Posted by: craigie at September 8, 2003 10:38 PM | PERMALINK

Anecdotal evidence: the place I have been taking my mother for routine doctor's visits for a couple of years is between Navy, Army, Marine and Coast Guard recruiting offices (don't ask me where the AF is), and I have yet to see any of them even remotely busy. One or maybe two possible recruits sitting at desks once in a while, but certainly no crowds. These visits occur usually at mid-morning, so maybe all those would-be uniform-wearers walk in after lunch; I don't know.

Posted by: Linkmeister at September 8, 2003 10:47 PM | PERMALINK

More migrant workers will serve in turn for citizenship, it's the Bush's plan to kill two birds with one stone.

Posted by: jim at September 8, 2003 10:51 PM | PERMALINK

MORE TROUBLE FOR THE BBC:


THE reputation of Andrew Gilligan, the controversial BBC journalist at the centre of the Hutton Inquiry, has suffered another blow after previously unpublished documents reveal he misled MPs investigating the case for war with Iraq.

The BBC reporter has already been criticised by corporation executives after he e-mailed two members of the foreign affairs select committee (FAC) revealing that Dr David Kelly was the source of a report by the BBC Newsnight journalist Susan Watts.

It has since emerged that three days after sending the e-mail, Mr Gilligan told the committee he had no knowledge of the MoD scientists’ dealings with other journalists, including Ms Watts.

The contradictory statements have infuriated Labour MPs on the committee and will raise further doubts about the credibility of Mr Gilligan as Lord Hutton prepares for the second stage of his inquiry.

Committee member and Labour MP Gisela Stuart said she would be asking her colleagues to consider referring Mr Gilligan to the appropriate Commons authority for his alleged contempt of Parliament.


It's the coverup that gets you, they say.

UPDATE: The Daily Telegraph is starting "BeebWatch!"


And here is the much-respected BBC world affairs editor, John Simpson, analysing American policy towards Libya last week as moves to end sanctions approached culmination:

John Humphrys: "Has there been a real fear in Libya that the Americans would attack them?"

John Simpson: "Very strong indeed. You see, they really suit the pattern that George W Bush has established - it's a weak country with a bad reputation. Now, most people don't realise it's weak; it's a bit like Iraq in that sense, [an] easy target to hit if you know what's really going on, but it looks big if you just watch the morning television programmes in the United States: built up as something terrible, whereas in fact it's small, weak, and it can't do anything very much to defend itself. That's why President Reagan hit it so hard in 1986, because he knew he could get away with it, and I don't believe that even the Americans thought that it was a major sponsor of state terrorism..."

Note a) the assumption of the stupidity of the American public; b) the assumption of the dishonesty of US Republican administrations; c) the instrusion of an extraneous point about Iraq; d) the condescension of the phrase "even the Americans"; e) the failure to spend time on the behaviour of Libya itself, the country responsible for the Lockerbie bombing. In short, a locus classicus of BBC bias. You can find one virtually every day.

This is what our Beebwatch sets out to do.


I think they're learning from bloggers. I hope they'll drop by the Biased BBC blog regularly.

Posted by: h at September 8, 2003 10:52 PM | PERMALINK

RUNNING ON RESERVES

Virginian - Pilot; Norfolk VA; Aug 31, 2003

... Some reservists "are saying 'Hey, this is not what I signed up for,' " said Jeffrey C. Crowe, chairman of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and a member of a high-level task force looking into issues such as frequency of call-ups and the unpredictability of deployments. "Unless we address these issues, retention rates are going to go down."

For the first time in more than a decade, the Army National Guard and the Army Reserves may fail to achieve recruiting goals, the Defense Department confirmed. The National Guard and Army Reserve were lagging behind recruiting goals by 6,000 and 700, respectively, in recent months. And some National Guard leaders predict that as many as 60 percent of the Guardsmen mobilized today will leave the service at the first opportunity.

"They did not sign up to patrol a perimeter," said Jay Spiegel, past president of the Reserve Officers Association. "They enlisted to drive tanks and shoot artillery." ...

Posted by: Tom Arthur at September 8, 2003 10:56 PM | PERMALINK

Didn't we discuss the need for a larger military here a while back? This is why.

Posted by: Tacitus at September 9, 2003 03:16 AM | PERMALINK

The most refreshing aspect of Bush's Sunday night speech was his coming clean on the financial cost of Iraq. Should we now expect something similar with respect to the need for a larger military? Given the foreign policy goals of this administration, and the lead-time involved, shouldn't they get busy on it?

It seems to me, though, that adding even two divisions could be very expensive - I've read that the Army has had to work hard just to meet current recruitment targets.

Washington Monthly had a good article about this and related over-stretch issues:
http://www.washingtonmonthly.com/features/2003/0303.confessore.html

Posted by: Dave L at September 9, 2003 03:44 AM | PERMALINK

If retention and recruitment continue to go down, while the United States remains in heavy military commitments like Korea, NATO, and now Iraq will we need to reinstate the draft? Considering what the draft meant during Vietnam I'd normally say no, but we've got to get the troops from somewhere and it doesn't seem like any of our allies are willing to give them up.

Posted by: Lanic at September 9, 2003 03:47 AM | PERMALINK

"It's the coverup that gets you, they say."

Yup. So where are the WMD's?

Posted by: Barry at September 9, 2003 03:47 AM | PERMALINK

"Didn't we discuss the need for a larger military here a while back? This is why."

Posted by: Tacitus at September 9, 2003 03:16 AM

And where will this larger military come from?

As pointed out above, the Guard and Reserve is having recruiting problems (I'd love to find a source for recruiting figures, to see how things are going), and officials anticipate *severe* retention problems. And every NG and reservist putting in a one-year tour in Iraq will be a 'anti-retention' person for their friends and relatives.

How is the regular army doing on recruitment and retention? From what I've heard, the generals are doing their part to suppress morale (4th ID general taking pre-fab barracks from the troops and using them for offices, rotation of officers out of in-country units for promotions, new assignments, and training).

Posted by: Barry at September 9, 2003 03:54 AM | PERMALINK

Republicans (and maybe Democrats, but they're not in power) don't want a draft. It would be the quickest route to being voted out of office, and mobilizing opposition to their foreign policy.

Posted by: Sal at September 9, 2003 04:46 AM | PERMALINK


It'd help if we paid privates in the Army more than poverty-level (it is possible, and increasingly common, for privates to apply for food stamps successfully). Perhaps we should consider the fact that you can't actually _live_ on an Army salary? Without making service a job that you can make a living at, frankly, the volunteer army is going to have a hard time of it. And with the current situation, instituting a draft would be little more than impressment.

There is a lot that could be done to help increase enrollment and retention in both the regular armed services and the reserves. However, the best ideas tend to revolve around paying better and treating the grunt better. Neither idea is one that the Bush administration has shown much affection for (since they've repeatedly tried to reduce pay for enlisted types and are a bit part, with their bait-and-switch deployment plans, of the problem with the latter).

Isn't this the administration that ran _against_ Clinton's record on keeping the military happy? How many servicemen and women are now in the odd position of wishing for the return of the good old days under a Democratic president?

Posted by: NBarnes at September 9, 2003 05:11 AM | PERMALINK

An acquaintance of mine, whose granddaughter is in the Air Force -- based in Kuwait -- has said she will not re-enlist. Take that for what it's worth.

Posted by: WK at September 9, 2003 05:19 AM | PERMALINK

We dont' necessarilly need a larger military. Alternatively, we could dial down what we try to do with the military we have. At some point, continuing to expand military expenditure stops making sense. We already spend more than, what is it, the next 10 countries combined on the military? If this isn't enough, I would suggest the problem isn't on the supply side, but on the demand side.

Saying we need a bigger military is like saying someone who earns 10 million dollars a year but has debt problems just needs to work and earn more money, since 10 million isn't enough for them to live on.

Posted by: Doug Turnbull at September 9, 2003 05:35 AM | PERMALINK

Wait until some of those Reserve famalies lose their homes while on extended duty overseas!More ugliness to come

Posted by: Palolo lolo at September 9, 2003 05:49 AM | PERMALINK

I was talking to a friend whose 50-year-old Guard husband is on training right now (but shouldn't be sent over). She's heard of a 60-year-old pastor called up and sent over to Iraq. I imagine he thought he was done with active duty.

Posted by: John Isbell at September 9, 2003 05:57 AM | PERMALINK

The toll on reservists and families is high, of course, but it extends to the businesses and communities where they come from as well.

A local business here continues to pay reservists their salaries while on duty, but how long can they keep that up? The work and effort the troops are putting in in Iraq is work that is not being done in the US.

Posted by: Tripp at September 9, 2003 06:03 AM | PERMALINK

Is it a need for a larger military or a need to apply the military more judiciously?

Iraq wasn't an imminent threat, that has been proven. Now the military that was designed to wage a war on two fronts is tied up as an occupation force. And providing security in a half dozen other spheres of influence.

Posted by: ChrisS at September 9, 2003 06:14 AM | PERMALINK

Maybe they should start a new branch of the military: the Occupiers . their duty would be to go into countries and occupy them, after the other branches had devastated them. simple enough.

Posted by: ChrisL at September 9, 2003 06:20 AM | PERMALINK

Is a two fronts force still the standard for the military? I seem to vaguely remember that Rumsfeld or somebody else in this administration was looking to rephrase that strategy, but I couldn't for the life of me remember what to. Am I misremembering here?

Posted by: mc_masterchef at September 9, 2003 06:21 AM | PERMALINK

Once unemployment hits 20% and only the military can guarantee three square meals a day, there won't be any problem finding recruits. They might not be of the quality a modern army wants, but....

Posted by: alex at September 9, 2003 06:44 AM | PERMALINK

The reserves made a gamble that they would never get called up for a war. From past US actions, this was a good bet. Even during the first Iraq war very few reservists got called up and fewer deployed. The ones that got called up were quickly demobilized. The gamble was that they could still make extra cash on the side and points towards retirement without ever actually getting called up. On 9/11 they lost the gamble and were called up to fight a long war. I still remember sitting with reservist as they were amazed by their mobiliztion papers that said, "...two years or until the end of hostilities...". They were used to it saying 6 months and were horrified when they did not rotate back after 45 days! Yes this is a retention problem, but to say this was not what they signed up for is incorrect.

As for rotating officers for assignments. Most of the military assignment moves are during the summer. Military schools start in the fall (like National War College, Senior Service School, etc) and they must fill these classes. For the successful officers they need these, square fillers, for advancement. Plus the staffs, especially joint and pentagon staffs, need the 'hands-on' experience these officers have. Thus the moves. And yes its not 'fair' to the ones left behind - but the US military is not into fairness - just results.

I do agree we need a bigger military, especially light infantry, but it will take years to rebuild it. And the draft is NOT an option (the active duty thinks its a horrible idea).

My two cents

Posted by: buffpilot at September 9, 2003 06:47 AM | PERMALINK

As i recall, the two front policy was downgraded to 1 1/2, a major war and a brushfire war. Example: large deployment in Iraq and smaller deployment in Afghanistan. Yup, we are there all used up. I am not sure if deployment times duration was considered in the gaming.

I am not sure what this admin plans to do in March, probably desperately hoping for another external division and enough calm in Iraq to draw down to 60-90 thousand

Sometimes I think Rummy wants to separate wheat from chaff, get rid of Army dead weight by sending them thru hell. I do know after a lot of combat experience, we are going to be unbelievably strong, relative to other countries

Posted by: bob mcmanus at September 9, 2003 06:57 AM | PERMALINK

We don't need a larger military. What we need is a sound policy for the use of our armed forces. As currently structured, the U.S. doesn't have the sort of military that is intended to be used for long-term occupation of large countries. Given what we're now stuck doing in Iraq, I'm not sure I want us to have such a force.

BTW, one of my co-workers in the reserves last fall was called back to active duty after being on for six months before that. She isn't back yet. Might as well draft her and be done with it, I say.

Posted by: David W. at September 9, 2003 06:59 AM | PERMALINK

"The gamble was that they could still make extra cash on the side and points towards retirement without ever actually getting called up. On 9/11 they lost the gamble and were called up to fight a long war."

Buffpilot, this might make sense . . . if Iraq had anything to do with 9/11.

Posted by: rea at September 9, 2003 07:19 AM | PERMALINK

[i]Wait until some of those Reserve famalies lose their homes while on extended duty overseas!More ugliness to come

Posted by Palolo lolo at September 9, 2003 05:49 AM [/i]

I believe there's a law (Sailors & Soldiers Relief Act?) that prohibits credit/financial proceedings against active duty personnel, or at least ones stationed overseas.
That said, when they eventually come home there could be lots of trouble.

Posted by: sal at September 9, 2003 07:30 AM | PERMALINK

Interesting that the size of the military is up for discussion. Particularly the " we need two more Divisions" aspect. That was about the size that was downsized/eliminated about 6 - 8 years ago.

It was part of the restructuring under Clinton because the Cold War was over and there wasn't a need to have so many "Heavy" Divisions. I'm not a Clinton fan, but thought it was the right thing to do then (still do). This plan came with a cost/strategic shift in manpower. The reserves and National Guard were going to pull heavier duty. The state Governors, Reserve and National Guard Generals all bought into this strategy. Cynically, it was probably because they all got more money pushed to their states/units.

Much of the troop strength that went to the Reserves/NG were Combat Service Support. That's why you see so many Water Purification/Psyops/Civil Affairs type units over there. There are VERY FEW of these types of units on active duty.

buffpilot is dead-on about a lot of Reservists and NG troops. They do gamble with being called up. I was in the NG for a year after leaving active duty - personal experience talking here. It's rather cynical of them to take the benefits of service (pay, education, retirement etc) and then compalin when their services are actually needed. Suck it up and drive on.

He is also right about why the Officers and senior NCOs are being rotated out. Most of these troop types are career oriented. To stay on track (the military is very "move up or move out"), these soldiers HAVE to get their schooling. Missing your "window" for a school can result in being passed over for promotion. You might as well quit when that happens. You'll never recover.

As for saying that we couldn't recruit enough soldiers to man two more divisions? Why not? We did just a few years back. There is no reason it couldn't be done again. It would take a few years and more money for incentives, but it could be done. Having said that, I don't think it's necessary.

Posted by: Black Oak at September 9, 2003 07:51 AM | PERMALINK

rea,

Didn't say Iraq had anything to do with 9/11. Don't care and not the point. The US government (President and congress) authorized continuing the War on Terror by overrunning Iraq. We can argue all night if that was the right 'next step', but it doesn't change my point. The reserves lost their gamble that they would never be called up for a long time. That was my point. Did not want to open the discussion of the correct 'next move'. That was a strategic decision made by the US government, its effect on the reserves was obvious.

Kevin - like your blog. Couldn't take anymore of the DKos extremists, so came here. Much better discussions.

Posted by: buffpilot at September 9, 2003 07:56 AM | PERMALINK

In terms of officer rotations, as a former E-4: if there's need for me to be in Iraq, living like sh*t, with the occasional hostile fire to relieve the boredom, then there's need to keep my leadership with me. Remember, it's not rotation of units, it's rotation of officers before their units.

Since we are in a war, perhaps these schools should switch to a new schedule.

In terms of career advancement, this is one step below Vietnam 'ticket punching'.

And again, those reasons sound pretty lame to me, sitting in a nice, comfortable room, having just finished a soda with ice (and some chocolate). If I was an enlisted man in Iraq, I'm sure that those reasons would wear rather thin.

Of course, if the officer corps wishes to run things this way, they can. They might, however, find that their enlisted ranks decline to renew their participation.

Posted by: Barry at September 9, 2003 08:01 AM | PERMALINK

"On 9/11 they lost the gamble and were called up to fight a long war. I still remember sitting with reservist as they were amazed by their mobiliztion papers that said, "...two years or until the end of hostilities...". They were used to it saying 6 months and were horrified when they did not rotate back after 45 days! Yes this is a retention problem, but to say this was not what they signed up for is incorrect."

This is true. However, the Iraq war was not because of 9/11, it was politically enabled by 9/11.
That is a big difference.

I'm sure that some reservists were horrified by the 'duration' clause. But was morale higher or lower before Iraq?


"I do agree we need a bigger military, especially light infantry, but it will take years to rebuild it. And the draft is NOT an option (the active duty thinks its a horrible idea)."

Since the US Army's idea of leadership is, shall we say, unfair to lower enlisted people (for reasons I've stated above), how will this bigger army be built?

Posted by: Barry at September 9, 2003 08:08 AM | PERMALINK

Dave L wrote: "The most refreshing aspect of Bush's Sunday night speech was his coming clean on the financial cost of Iraq."

That's what I was thinking, too, Dave, until I read this article in the Seattle Times (it's actually a reprinted LA Times article).

It turns out that Bush wasn't quite as forthcoming as he's being given credit for. In particular, the administration's own cost estimates are that we'll need $55 billion more than the president asked for. The administration is hoping and praying that they'll be able to make up the shortfall through contributions from other countries.

Posted by: PaulB at September 9, 2003 08:16 AM | PERMALINK

buffpilot says "The reserves lost their gamble that they would never be called up for a long time."

They weren't the only ones. Given that their employers have to keep their employment slots open (at least to some extent), they lost the same gamble.

Query the extent to which this might have an effect on recruitment. And the hiring of reservists and national guard members.

Posted by: raj at September 9, 2003 08:22 AM | PERMALINK

This isn't my field of expertise, but aren't there two concerns about officer rotation:

1. the effect on morale of the enlisted men who don't get to rotate out

2. the effect on efficiency by losing the experience of the officers you just rotated out and bringing in someone new who's unfamiliar with the people, the terrain and the situation on the ground?

And wasn't this an issue in the Vietnam war?

If so, then I'd have to agree that the military really ought to rethink their strategy of career advancement and allow for these kinds of situations.

Of course, if I'm all wet, please correct me. I'd be interested in hearing more about this.

Posted by: PaulB at September 9, 2003 08:22 AM | PERMALINK

Doug Turnbull wrote: "We already spend more than, what is it, the next 10 countries combined on the military?"

Actually, I believe that we spend more than all other countries combined. That doesn't necessarily mean we're spending too much, of course. It depends on what our needs are.

Still, your point is a good one that perhaps some of the existing funding needs to be redirected rather than simply calling for an increase. Take a few billion away from the missile defense program and use it to increase salaries and benefits for enlisted men, perhaps?

Posted by: PaulB at September 9, 2003 08:26 AM | PERMALINK

Barry,
You can disagree with the Officer/NCO rotation but it is reality. And rescheduling schools around the war is not an option. You can take any brand new 2LT and determine the window he/she will have to attend the Advanced Course, CAS3, CGSC etc. Miss any one of those windows and you're way behind the power curve and your peers are way ahead. As I stated before: You might as well resign as soon as that happens because you likely won't recover.

The reality is there are basically no "career schools" for the E-4. Only when you, as an enlisted soldier, have stuck around long enough (and performed well enough) to make E-5/E-6 do you start getting slated for schools. The military considers you a career soldier and starts treating you like one.

It may suck from the perspective of the E-3/E-4, but statistics show that most of these leave service (go to college etc). You being a good example. Had you stayed in and were and
E-6/E-7/E-8 now (making a point here - you could have been in 20 years ago, I don't know), you'd stand a good chance of rotating out of Iraq. And you'd be a fool to NOT attend a school the Dept of the Army scheduled you for, to stay with your unit. You may never get the opportunity again, and that could cost you your career. If not a promotion to E-8 or E-9. And the difference in retirement between and E-7 and an E-8/9 is pretty significant.

Posted by: Black Oak at September 9, 2003 08:36 AM | PERMALINK

"We can argue all night if that was the right 'next step', but it doesn't change my point. The reserves lost their gamble that they would never be called up for a long time."

Yeah, but somebody changed the terms of the bet after the reservists put their money down--and it wasn't the terrorists. There's a big difference between accepting the risk that you will be called upon to defend the country, and the risk that you will be called upon to go conquer the Middle East in support of the New American Century.

Posted by: rea at September 9, 2003 08:44 AM | PERMALINK

Actually the numbers are not great and senior/mid level enlisted are also rotating out. Yes, part of this is careerism - if you can solve this please contact any of the service chiefs, this has been a problem for decades.(Kosovo was particularly bad for 'ticket-punching') Part of this is that the military roughly moves 20-30% of its people each year. Some will need to be moved up to replace retirements/ separations. Some to go teach at the schools above, fill positions of people rotating out of the staffs etc. For the junior enlisted and LT/ junior captains - they don't have the experience/ expertise to move to these more senior positions yet. And it makes little sense to move you from being a tank driver with one unit to a tank driver with another. Lastly, early promotion for the officer corps CAN'T happen until they are mid-level Captains (roughly 8 years in service). For the Air Force you can't get promoted early until up for Lt Col! (roughly 14 years).

Lastly, all the services want people with combat experience teaching the new recruits/ staffs. Its an attempt to spread the knowledge wide and far. As for mass leadership switches, the services mostly don't like to do this. They want some old-hands to help season the new guys, especially the ones who have never been in combat (or were a Lt in GW I and now are a brigade CC). Its a different approach than some other countries and there is lots of debates in the services over this. If you have some brilliant ideas I suggest you write the Army Times or Air Force Times etc.

Posted by: buffpilot at September 9, 2003 08:52 AM | PERMALINK

rea,

"Yeah, but somebody changed the terms of the bet after the reservists put there money down"

That statement is ignorant and rife with how YOU perceive the Reserves should be used.

NOBODY gets to pick and choose what conflicts they go to. How many reservists actually wanted to go to Bosnia et al? Not many, but they all went. The Commander and Chief calls you and you go. Just because someone (as a reservist) doesn't like that we're over in Iraq, doesn't mean he/she doesn't have to go.

News flash, nobody would ever deploy anywhere if they could just "opt out" of the campaign because "they didn't like it", or disagreed with the policitcs of it.

Cripes.

Posted by: Black Oak at September 9, 2003 08:55 AM | PERMALINK

rea,

The bet never has changed. They bet they would never get called up. No one ever stated what would be a reason for the call up. As for your view of what we are doing in the mid-east, that's just an opinion (not shared by most in the military BTW). The elected civilian representatives of the US make the decisions on how to defend the country, not the people in the military (thank god!). It was there decision to go after Iraq, thus the reserves got called up and they lost the bet....

Posted by: buffpilot at September 9, 2003 09:01 AM | PERMALINK

Fighting an "honorable" war is a crap shoot. It's all up to motives of the Commander in Chief and the whim of politics. Anyone who decides s/he is going to make a career out of killing people s/he doesn't know, people who may or may not be an enemy of the state hasn't got a lot of room to whine when s/he's forced to stay the course. We'd have a lot fewer of these ridiculous blood baths if there were fewer fodder willing to do the dirty work. The President du jour knows that all he has to do is put a bunch of kids on the front line and every red white and blue American will deny nothing to the War Effort.

Guns or butter, folks. It's time we made a smarter choice of careers and politicians.

War is Peace. Yeah, right.

Posted by: chris at September 9, 2003 09:03 AM | PERMALINK

PaulB, IIRC, it was an issue in Vietnam, both from morale and from effectiveness. I don't have the figures, but I remember reading during the 1980's that an officer in the second 6 months of a 12 month tour had significantly greater effectiveness than in the first 6 months, in just about every statistic that the Army collected (casualties, disease, enemy killed, enemy weapons and equipment captured, re-enlistments/voluntary extensions of tours of duty, etc.). The morale effect of course, was probably significant.

Posted by: Barry at September 9, 2003 09:18 AM | PERMALINK

Anybody see this link?

http://instapundit.com/images/RE-UP.jpg

WARNING: DON'T LOOK AT IT IF YOU AGREE WITH THIS POST SINCE IT CONTRADICTS YOUR POINT OF VIEW.

Posted by: whatever at September 9, 2003 09:30 AM | PERMALINK

Whatever,
The question is what is the rate of the re-enlistment. If that 159 soldiers in the 101st ABN are the only re-enlistments in that division for the entire month then there is a problem. The picture that you displayed is a PR stunt, which is fine. It is not a useful data point.

Fester

Posted by: fester at September 9, 2003 09:46 AM | PERMALINK

Whatever, that post doesn't really contradict anyone's point of view. It's simply a data point, nothing more. Anecdotal evidence, if you will, just as is some of the information presented above.

As several people have noted above, we need some hard figures before we can really judge the impact that this is having. A 20% drop in recruitment/retention (or the lack thereof) would allow us to better judge what's going on with our military. Absent those kind of figures, it's all a guessing game.

Posted by: PaulB at September 9, 2003 09:47 AM | PERMALINK

Posted by: Black Oak at September 9, 2003 08:36 AM :

"Barry, You can disagree with the Officer/NCO rotation but it is reality."

eality can be changed. For example, ~150,000 US troops were in reality not in Iraq. The order was given (and a huge amount of work done), and they were in reality *in* Iraq. Reality changed.


"And rescheduling schools around the war is not an option."

It is an option. Just one which the Army leadership has deliberately chosen not to take. Were school schedules disrupted by WWII and Korea?

"You can take any brand new 2LT and determine the window he/she will have to attend the Advanced Course, CAS3, CGSC etc. Miss any one of those windows and you're way behind the power curve and your peers are way ahead. As I stated before: You might as well resign as soon as that happens because you likely won't recover."

I'd have thought that the extra combat experience would make up for that. As well as giving those officers priority. Which could be done, if the Army leadership wanted to do it.

"The reality is there are basically no "career schools" for the E-4. Only when you, as an enlisted soldier, have stuck around long enough (and performed well enough) to make E-5/E-6 do you start getting slated for schools. The military considers you a career soldier and starts treating you like one."

Yes, but if E-4's don't re-up in sufficient number, that leads to a shortage of E-5's (and then E-6's, etc.). When I was in, in the early 80's, the figure (Army Times?) was that the Army needed 50% of first-term soldiers to re-up for at least one more term to maintain junior NCO strength. I also remember the quality of the junior NCO's when I enlisted (it's bad when the PFC's do the sergeant's work as well as their own). In 1982-4 the Army was purging them like crazy. They had to, because for a number of years promotion to E-5 was based on the 'warm body' principle.

"It may suck from the perspective of the E-3/E-4, but statistics show that most of these leave service (go to college etc). You being a good example. Had you stayed in and were and E-6/E-7/E-8 now (making a point here - you could have been in 20 years ago, I don't know), you'd stand a good chance of rotating out of Iraq. And you'd be a fool to NOT attend a school the Dept of the Army scheduled you for, to stay with your unit. You may never get the opportunity again, and that could cost you your career. If not a promotion to E-8 or E-9. And the difference in retirement between and E-7 and an E-8/9 is pretty significant."

I agree, from a personal career perspective. The problem is that it *hurts the Army*. Remember, being in Iraq sucks (from the viewpoint of most people). The fact that what people in the administration thought was the war turned out to be the opening campaign of the war is hurting things more (this is the old 'home by Christmas' phenomenon).

Adding *bad leadership* policies to this is making a bad situation worse.

Right now it's clear that a larger Army is needed, under the current policies. The current policy (i.e., a guerrilla war in Iraq) will also inevitably hurt retention and recruitment.

In that case, the Army leaderhip has a responsibility not to add avoidable damage.

Posted by: Barry at September 9, 2003 09:48 AM | PERMALINK

I have long suspected that the "reenlistment crisis" is being inflated by the Army. They have been battling Rumsfeld for more troops for years, and this is probably just the latest front in that ongoing fight.

Posted by: Joe Schmoe at September 9, 2003 09:54 AM | PERMALINK

In terms of long reserve/NG active duty periods, the Army might need to consider putting these people in the regular Army for a period of time. One of the things mentioned was that many of these families lost
family benefits.

Posted by: Barry at September 9, 2003 10:00 AM | PERMALINK

Barry,

Can't speak for your experience back in the early 80's. I know there was a "promotion ramp-up" as part of rebuilding what Jimmy Peanut Butter tore down. Your "warm body" phenomenon might have been the result.

"Reality can be changed"
"It (rescheduling schools) is an option"

Good Luck Barry. We'll agree to disagree on these and I'll shake your hand when you do this. I see these a rolling 100 ton ball of granite. Moving it is not easy - and (IMO) not that important in the grand scheme of things

As for "extra combat experience making up" for a lack of a school? No way. There is a plethora of combat experience (Panama, Grenade, Bosnia, Kosovo, Somalia, GWI) out there. And you can't give preferential treatment (except in an extreme case by case basis) for a school because of it. Would you kick aside someone who was serving (say in Korea) and ruining his/her career just because they drew the Korean tour straw?

This is not as easy as it seems.

Posted by: Black Oak at September 9, 2003 10:27 AM | PERMALINK

"Good Luck Barry. We'll agree to disagree on these and I'll shake your hand when you do this."

Thanks. I'll leave it at this post, also.

"I see these a[s] rolling [a] 100 ton ball of granite."

What worries me is that I can see somebody saying that in 1965.

Posted by: Barry at September 9, 2003 10:41 AM | PERMALINK

As for the overstretch bit. In reguards to the Air Force. Our Ops Tempo is actually going down. Not mcuh action in Iraq/Afghanistan. A few jets do combat patrol in case the grunts need some heavy firepower. Most of the AF has gone home to regroup. For one example. The E-3 AWACS unit in OKC has, for the first time in 15 years, all its aircraft and crews home at the same time. Average TDY rate in this wing was 170 days PRIOR to 9/11. Now they are getting a rest.

One other note. In two years when Iraq has quieted down and we have nice permanent bases (like we did in Germany post WW II) there it won't be considered a time away from home family will come with you. The AF I know has already begun building permanent bases in four sites and my bet the army has some picked out to...

Food for thought, I expect the US to be there in the 50,000 man level for at least a decade. Just like Korea, Germany, Japan....and guess how they all turned out. :)

Posted by: buffpilot at September 9, 2003 10:47 AM | PERMALINK

Maybe they should start a new branch of the military: the Occupiers . their duty would be to go into countries and occupy them, after the other branches had devastated them. simple enough.

This made me laugh out loud. But on reflection, isn't this exactly what the British Raj was? So here we are, going down the same road to Empire. And down, and down, and down...

Posted by: craigie at September 9, 2003 11:06 AM | PERMALINK

I think, instead of an Occupation Services (or Peacekeeper Corps, or whatever), what we're far more likely to see is either the United Nations or private security contractors taking on the role for us, with the balance between the two depending mostly on the ideological temperament of the administration and whatever one follows it. Americans don't do occupation particuarly well and we'd much rather prefer other parties bear the nasty burdens for us. Which is, of course, another component of empire.

Posted by: mc_masterchef at September 9, 2003 01:13 PM | PERMALINK

Buffpilot, I'm not surprised that the AF is getting a break (as is the Navy, from what I've heard). Phase II of the was will involve much less naval and air support. If it goes well, phase III will involve still less. If it goes badly, phase III will involve more. It was alway obvious that the occupation of Iraq would be a troop-heavy operation.

Posted by: Barry at September 9, 2003 02:12 PM | PERMALINK

As a reservist who went on active duty last year and am going again for a 2 year deal in iraq this time, I thought I would throw in my 2 cents.

For those in the string above who claim the reservists should suck it up because they knew what they were getting into when they joined or they took benefits and gambled they would not have to go on extended tours, I say it is obvious you are not serving as a reservist or are in the regular army. Thousands of reservists like me joined and have never taken any benefits. We did it to help our country in the time of need. Yes idealogical, corny maybe, but we knew we may have to sacrifice alot, maybe a whole lot. However, unless you have been a reservist,(not a proffesional as the regular army call us), you don't know how we have been lied to, misused, and treated like second class citizens by the regular army. We don't get the same equipment, (some of us spent 4 months in combat without protective vests), we don't get to use the chow halls or medical facilities and when the DOD is done with us the bases want us out asap. We don't get the same officer promotions since we are "only National Guard officers" but our orders say we are title 10 regular army now. Yes, we knew we would sacrifice but did not know we would have to sacrifice the innocence of our patriotism. Not to metion 3 years of 50% loss of personal income. Wonder if the regular army officers would be willing to go on a deployment and be told they are going at 50% less pay?

PS With regard to the recruiting and retention issue and an all volunteer force, maybe someone should research the facts about stop losses. I guess the guard and reserve retention numbers would look good if no one is allowed to get out when they need to take care of their families who ar suffering. I feel sorry for the American people because in the long term they will suffer by not having the natinional defense we need in the years to come. Why? because as soon as the miltary gives us the chance tens of thousands of reservists will have no choice but to quit. Why? because we can not sustain the loss of income year after year. It about our families future as well.

A note from a national guard captain who will spend another year in iraq.

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Posted by: doi at May 23, 2004 11:14 AM | PERMALINK

To whom it may concern,

I am writing this letter on behalf of my fiance' MSG James H. Meyer, who is presently serving this country in the U.S. Army. Serving in Operation Iraqi Freedom 1 and now 2.
He is a 36 year veteran, and I've never met anyone who's heart and soul supports the call to protect this great nation more than his. He was in Tikrit, Iraq and is now in Kuwait waiting to be sent home. It is also for ALL of the brave men and women who are serving this country with him. He is with the 846th Transportation Company, and they have been there since April 12, 2003 for total of 421 days. He was sent to Kuwait, because after a year they were told they were coming home. The day they were supposed to leave for home, they were informed their time had been extended.
Sir, I saw on the news that these extended soldiers wanted to stay..were happy in fact to do so. I don't know where they received that information as the information I get is that they feel like they are in "jail". The very worst part however, is that nobody can or will give them a reason for being kept there. They no longer have jobs to do. Some of them no longer have weapons. They are trying to make it so they cant even leave the camp, on emergency leave or otherwise. Im told since they were extended they have only been given meaningless missions.
Did these people do something wrong? Or, was their only mistake believing in those who are in command. There appears to be no viable reason for their forced, prolonged presence in Kuwait. I refer to them as being hostages, and very sadly, thats how they feel.
I used to have the utmost respect for the military, but when you hear the one you love who willingly went to fight this war, refer to his situation as being on "lockdown"..it makes one wonder. If their presence is so very important, why are there other transportation companies being sent home? Why are these soldiers being kept sir, when their replacements are there? Why are they not even being told what the purpose in their time being extended is for? Why is it that we as Americans, would want to push our soldiers to the very edge mentally and emotionally, and their families as well?
I have a son who is working vigorously to be able to serve in our military as best he can. However, after seeing first hand how we treat our soldiers, I will do my best to discourage it. That is a very sad stance for me to take, as I previously thought serving ones country was the most honorable thing a person could do. Its heartbreaking to loose faith in this wonderful country and its leaders, and I'm appalled that we as Americans would treat our soldiers in this manner. What is truly heartbreaking however, is that the soldiers have lost faith as well. I'm told that the morale of the troops is as low as it ever was in Viet Nam. That alone says so very much.
I'm sure this letter means very little to someone in your position. I'm just one person, one voice, one heart. But I think someone should realize, that before these men and women are soldiers, they are human beings. They did their year, and they did a good job. Now they deserve to come home, or at the very least, they deserve a fair and reasonable answer as to why they are being detained. To hear the pain, sadness, hostility and frustration in their voices because of the situation is a crime. These people put their lives on the line for us. They at least deserve to be treated with some degree of respect. Don't you think? Thank you for taking the time to read this letter. My best wishes go out to all of the men and woman who's time has been extended. May you return home safely, and quickly.

Sincerely,
Kristine Lyons
Las Vegas, NV

Posted by: Kristine Lyons at June 5, 2004 10:48 PM | PERMALINK

I want to thank Ms Lyons for the work she is doing on behalf of all the men and women here in the 846th TC. We appreciate you and hope others will help us come home soon.

Posted by: Jim at June 6, 2004 01:37 PM | PERMALINK

I have read everything that has been posted so far but cannot comment further without seeing some statistics on retention rates in the US Army. If you have access to a website or statistics about retention rates in our military please provide them to everyone. I think it would be very helpful.

Posted by: Dave at June 12, 2004 02:57 PM | PERMALINK


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