September 08, 2003
TROOP STRENGTH BLUES....Tours of duty are being extended for reserve troops:
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
Why don't we send the graduating class from Yale?
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.
More migrant workers will serve in turn for citizenship, it's the Bush's plan to kill two birds with one stone.
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
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.
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
"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." ...
Didn't we discuss the need for a larger military here a while back? This is why.
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:
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.
"It's the coverup that gets you, they say."
Yup. So where are the WMD's?
"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).
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.
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
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
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.
Wait until some of those Reserve famalies lose their homes while on extended duty overseas!More ugliness to come
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.
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
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
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.
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?
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....
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
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
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.
"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.
[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.
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.
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.
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
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.
"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?
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
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
Query the extent to which this might have an effect on recruitment. And the hiring of reservists and national guard members.
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 course, if I'm all wet, please correct me. I'd be interested in hearing more about this.
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?
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.
"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.
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.
"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.
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
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.
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.
Anybody see this link?
WARNING: DON'T LOOK AT IT IF YOU AGREE WITH THIS POST SINCE IT CONTRADICTS YOUR POINT OF VIEW.
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.
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: 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.
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
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
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
"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
This is not as easy as it seems.
"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.
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. :)
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...
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.
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
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
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.
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
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.
Las Vegas, NV
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.
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.