Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

Email Newsletter icon, E-mail Newsletter icon, Email List icon, E-mail List icon Sign up for Free News & Updates

December 19, 2007
By: Kevin Drum

THE ARMY'S OTHER CRISIS....In the December issue of the Monthly, Andrew Tilghman takes a long look at a subject that gets only sporadic attention in the daily press: the intense pressure that the Iraq war is putting on the Army's ability to retain its midlevel officer corps. The exodus of officers with between four and nine years of experience has jumped from 8% to 13% just in the past four years, and the officers who are leaving are disproportionately some of the Army's highest performers:

Colonel George Lockwood, the director of officer personnel management for the Army's Human Resources Command [has] estimated that the Army already has only about half the senior captains that it needs. "Read the last line again, please," Lockwood wrote. "Our inventory of senior captains is only 51 percent of requirement." In response to this deficit, the Army is taking in twenty-two-year-olds as fast as it can. However, these recruits can't be expected to perform the jobs of officers who have six to eight years of experience. "New 2nd Lieutenants," Lockwood observed, "are no substitute for senior captains."

Even the pool from which the Army draws its future leaders is being diluted....The number of OCS graduates has more than tripled since the late 1990s, from about 400 a year to more than 1,500 a year. These soldiers may turn out to be good commissioned officers. But they are also needed in the noncommissioned officer (NCO) corps, the parallel structure of senior-level sergeants who form the Army's backbone, responsible for ensuring that orders are effectively carried out, rather than making policy or strategic decisions. Yet the Army is already several thousand sergeants short and has been reducing NCO promotion times in order to fill the gaps. Sending more soldiers who are NCOs, or NCO material, to Officer Candidate School is merely robbing Peter to pay Paul.

....In Washington, I met Matt Kapinos and his longtime friend Jim Morin for lunch....Both men were frank, thoughtful, and occasionally sarcastic about their disillusionment with the Army; it was clear that they'd discussed the subject repeatedly before. "You have a three-star general like John Vines come down to talk to us, and he says, 'Just go out there and shoot people,'" Kapinos said. "And you know that that is not how to fight an insurgency. Everyone who's ever read the most basic article on counterinsurgency knows that is not how you're going to win."

"Yeah," Morin agreed. "The general would come out and give these bellicose speeches, and every time he did that, I'd have to go back to my guys and say, 'What the general really meant to say was ... "

There are plenty of reasons for the Army's retention problems that go beyond the Iraq war, but Tilghman reports that the war has intensified them in two ways: first, through simple weariness caused by multiple deployments thousands of miles from home, and second, through frustration with a senior officer corps that doesn't understand modern counterinsurgency and seemingly has little desire to learn. And without midlevel officers, you don't have an army:

Civilian hawks in the government believe that the way to reduce the grueling pace of deployments while continuing to prosecute the war for "as long as it takes" is simply to increase the size of the force. Rudy Giuliani, for instance, has called for adding ten combat brigades. But who is going to lead these new forces if seasoned young officers continue leaving the Army in droves? Calls to expand the Army are empty rhetoric if the military brass and their civilian bosses fail to grapple with whether the services can recruit and retain junior leaders in both numbers and quality.

One final thought: the four-star generals of tomorrow are the captains and majors of today. If you're losing the best of those midlevel officers, you're not only losing the backbone of today's Army, you're losing the leadership of tomorrow's. "The generals who will appear before Congress in twenty-five years are in the Army right now," Tilghman says. "They're junior officers, probably captains. And keeping them in uniform might be the Army's most important mission."

Read the rest here.

Kevin Drum 12:34 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (48)

Bookmark and Share
 
Comments

This is why you you can't just preach "we stay until the mission is complete." If there's no plan, your young officers just become disillusioned and leave. You fight a war the right way, the smart way, and it educates tomorrow's army in the ways of war.

Posted by: mmy on December 19, 2007 at 12:42 AM | PERMALINK

I was a junior Army officer 1985-1991, but was so because I joined ROTC in my freshman year of college when I was 19 in 1982. If I was 19 and saw the prospect for going back to Iraq every 18 months or so, I probably would have never signed on the dotted line. I'm pretty amazed how the Army gets and retains goodd soldiers now.

Posted by: RobertSeattle on December 19, 2007 at 1:04 AM | PERMALINK

I am just glad to see someone with a bigger microphone than I have taking up the issue. "Thank you's" all around - to Kevin for linking my offerings on this subject, and to Andrew for writing such a terrific, and well researched article.

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka G.C.) on December 19, 2007 at 1:04 AM | PERMALINK

"the officers who are leaving are disproportionately some of the Army's highest performers"

Completely consistent with the Bush/Cheney management philosophy. The good guys who get disgusted and go voluntarily won't have to be fired later.

Posted by: Ross Best on December 19, 2007 at 1:08 AM | PERMALINK

Hey, to paraphrase Hawkeye Pearce:

"You lose enough officers, and you know what happens? Peace breaks out."

Posted by: SocraticGadfly on December 19, 2007 at 1:13 AM | PERMALINK

An army, any army, is designed, trained and motivated to engage with the enemy and win battles. That's what it does--destroy stuff and kill people, as General Vines said. The US army is not designed for armed nation-building during a resisted military occupation, which is the situation in Afghanistan and Iraq.

It is now US policy to invade, defeat and occupy countries, and during the occupation endure random attacks while building a new society--government, schools and sewer plants. It is a dangerous and mostly thankless task, as officers are learning. It's also probably futile, as the nation is learning.

The US army is not at war in Afghanstan and Iraq, and it is not fighting an insurgency, which is a revolt against civil government. There are no effective civil governments in these countries, there is only the resisted occupation. The US army is an occupying army, often using excessive force, trying to subdue people and empower them at the same time--an impossible task which is too often meaningless and frustrating.

No wonder officers leave the army. They are victims of "The Global War on Terror"--a wrongly conceived strategy which puts good people in bad situations.

Posted by: Don Bacon on December 19, 2007 at 1:28 AM | PERMALINK

I think Don Bacon is right, the military is designed to destroy the enemy's capacity to fight by killing. That's what they're trained to do. They're not supposed to see shades of grey, their ethos is to kill or be killed. If they make value judgments about who's an insurgent and who's not, that's counter to everything they've been taught. You don't want soldiers who hesitate before shooting.

You want cops to hesitate. The police are trained to make value judgments. That's their job, not a soldier's.

Asking the military to act as a police force is what's breaking the armed services.

There is no military solution to a political problem.

Posted by: Old Hat on December 19, 2007 at 2:11 AM | PERMALINK

What's the role of Blackwater and similar firms here? Are they recruiting the best and brightest away, offering to triple their salaries?

Posted by: Joe Buck on December 19, 2007 at 2:42 AM | PERMALINK

"Those new officers, however, are not coming from the traditional sources of West Point and ROTC programs, which supply recruits fresh from college. Instead, they are coming from the Army's Officer Candidate School—mostly attended by soldiers plucked from the enlisted ranks, who probably entered the military straight from high school... These soldiers may turn out to be good commissioned officers. But they are also needed in the noncommissioned officer (NCO) corps, the parallel structure of senior-level sergeants who form the Army's backbone, responsible for ensuring that orders are effectively carried out, rather than making policy or strategic decisions. Yet the Army is already several thousand sergeants short and has been reducing NCO promotion times in order to fill the gaps. Sending more soldiers who are NCOs, or NCO material, to Officer Candidate School is merely robbing Peter to pay Paul."

Great argument... except for the fact that NCO pay is a lot lower than officer pay. Lets just tell that deserving enlisted guy who earned his degree and excelled in his job, all while deploying to Iraq, to "screw off".

Also got to love the line about enlisted guys "who probably entered the military straight from high school"... since joining the local ROTC attachment at State U teaches a lot more about the military and leadership than say... rising through the ranks.

Posted by: Rory on December 19, 2007 at 3:04 AM | PERMALINK

I'm curious. I've heard about the so-called stop-loss orders, which force soldiers to stay in uniform even after their hitch is over.

Does this apply only to enlisted men, and not to officers? This post seems to indicate so.

Posted by: Nancy Irving on December 19, 2007 at 3:35 AM | PERMALINK

If you're losing competent officers, and making it easy for gang members to enlist, we could easily end up one day with gang member officers. And you know what that will mean? They'll be staunch Republicans, Republican stalwarts. I'm not saying this to be snide or to make a funny. Thugs go where the power is--gangs or the Republican leadership, wherever. It's a matter of opportunism and enjoying having others in your thrall, and there's only one top-down party that really satisfies that.

Isn't the world full of biographies of people who jump from one party, one assemblage to the next--Communism, Fascism, Liberalism, Republicanism, prison gangs, whatever?

It's wonderful to know that we as human beings are all so protean. These ex-gang members turned four-star generals turned Republican senators could one day be Republican presidents. Or whatever we will call the "presidency" once the Bushites are through with it.

Posted by: Anon on December 19, 2007 at 4:08 AM | PERMALINK

Nancy:

Oh no, Stop-Loss affects officers too. It kept me from separating a few years ago and would have screwed up my law schools plans if my school didn't bend some of their rules for me.

I don't know all of the ends and outs of the program, but it doesn't prevent you from separating forever. I'm pretty sure if it did it would violate the 13th Amendment. For the Air Force, they identified certain career fields for stop-loss and prevented separations and retirements for up to a year. I doubt the Army was very different - might have been up to two years to include a 15 month deployment and time to spin up and redeploy.

Posted by: cunning linguist on December 19, 2007 at 4:17 AM | PERMALINK

I should add that when a person signs up for their initial commitment to the military, they are signing up for 8 years - generally 2 to 4 years of active duty time and the rest in the inactive reserve. When you apply to retire it's essentially the same thing - you agree to stay on the retired rolls in return for the retirement pay and you can be called up if the president orders it.

It's my impression that Stop-Loss only applies if the member either has remaining inactive service time or if she applying to retire. I could be wrong about though.

Posted by: cunning linguist on December 19, 2007 at 4:39 AM | PERMALINK

An army, any army, is designed, trained and motivated to engage with the enemy and win battles. That's what it does--destroy stuff and kill people, as General Vines said.

If General Vines said this, he is a blockhead. An army's mission statement is not "DESTROY STUFF AND KILL PEOPLE". That is the mission statement for Godzilla. The mission statement for an army is (or should be) "DEFEND YOUR COUNTRY AND YOUR FELLOW CITIZENS FROM HARM". Thinking that an army's mission - its purpose in existing - is to kill and destroy is to mistake one possible means for the end. It's a common mistake in the US, which is why they tend to lose wars.

Posted by: ajay on December 19, 2007 at 5:28 AM | PERMALINK

Does the US have the military it needs to defend itself from invasion? Yes.

Does the US have the military it needs to stop acts of terrorism in the US? No, it can't, and it's the wrong tool for the job.

Does the US have the military it needs to stop a stray, black-market nuke from being used in the US? No, that requires intelligence, allies, and arms control agreements, and the military is the wrong tool for the job.

And what does our over-sized military do, if not stopping invasions or terrorism or nuclear proliferation? It initiates unprovoked wars of aggression against sovereign countries, a.k.a., war crimes.

Having trouble recruiting officers, NCO's, and enlisted people, thereby having less of them, IS A GOOD THING. For the world, and the US. How is less of an aggressive, threatening military a BAD thing?

Posted by: luci on December 19, 2007 at 6:14 AM | PERMALINK

Here is a resume of what the Peers Commission found to be a fairly typical OCS officer during the Vietnam War.

William L. Calley. Born 1943. Failed to get into a four-year college, flunked out of junior college freshman year. Got draft deferment on medical grounds (stress-induced stomach ulcers). Held a series of what would later be called "McJobs": hotel bellhop, restaurant dishwasher, insurance adjuster, etc., incompetent scab worker on strike-bound railroad (arrested by police for blocking traffic). Enlisted July 1966, under pressure from the draft board, which was rescreening people to make its numbers for Vietnam. After boot camp, started training as clerk-typist. Sent to Officer Candidate School March 1967; graduated and went on to Charley Co., 1/20 Inf (Americal Division), approx Sept-Oct 1967. Charley Company, with Calley as a platoon leader, arrived in Vietnam, Dec. 1967.

We are talking about a man who was neither qualified to be an officer or a non-commissioned officer by any customary standards. No education, no military experience, no civilian job skills, no record of steady employment, nada. In Vietnam, he got American soldiers killed needlessly because he had not mastered the OCS lessons on map-reading. The definitive comment on that kind of officer was made by Lewis Cass in 1813: "The very dregs of the earth. Unfit for anything under heaven. God only knows how the poor thing got an appointment" (Army Officer's Handbook, 40th ed., 1979, p. 217).

See: Michael Bilton and Kevin Sim, _Four Hours at My Lai_, 1992; Col. George Walton, USA, _The Tarnished Shield: A Report on Today's Army_, 1973.

Posted by: Andrew D. Todd on December 19, 2007 at 7:34 AM | PERMALINK

What about that untapped source of education and bellicosity, the College Republicans? Can they spare a few good men and women from their bake sales to step up?

Posted by: Steve Paradis on December 19, 2007 at 8:29 AM | PERMALINK

the College Republicans?

But they are all so gung ho on the war, I thought they all had already enlisted.

Posted by: tomeck on December 19, 2007 at 9:15 AM | PERMALINK

Bush and Cheney have shown a total lack of respect for the military from day one. The consequences of their behavior were predictable and obvious to everyone, even there intentionally blind, mindless supporters. Over the next decade we will see how terribly destructive the Bush years were to our country. The Republicans will be dead for all practical purposes. If the corporatists don't manage to buy the Democratic Party, that will be good news for those who want reform.

Posted by: freelunch on December 19, 2007 at 9:28 AM | PERMALINK

What about that untapped source of education and bellicosity, the College Republicans? Can they spare a few good men and women from their bake sales to step up?

Don't be silly!

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka G.C.) on December 19, 2007 at 10:00 AM | PERMALINK

This reminds me of a great piece on NPR the other morning about Captains leaving the Army in increasing numbers and that despite offering bonuses to re-enlist the Army brass is sure that their best Captains are leaving anyway.

http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=17265315

you can read or listen to the story.

Posted by: hcoppola on December 19, 2007 at 10:01 AM | PERMALINK

"And what does our over-sized military do, if not stopping invasions or terrorism or nuclear proliferation? It initiates unprovoked wars of aggression against sovereign countries, a.k.a., war crimes."

Yes, this is certainly the issue for you folks.

Do you think losing a war will improve retention?

I have books about Army retention issues from well before the Iraq War. There are problems retaining mid-level officers that have nothing to do with deployments and a lot to do with personnel policies, many of which are improving. Unit cohesion is improved by changes in assignment practices, for example. The Army is stressed by the deployments but that is because the Army is too small. When did that happen ? Remember the Clinton "surplus?" That was the Army being decimated.

In fairness, the older officer corps was not interested in COIN tactics and personnel needs and the junior officers have had to transform it. In another year, then war will be won, the violence way down and the Army will have been transformed. Better times are coming.

Posted by: Mike K on December 19, 2007 at 10:13 AM | PERMALINK

Actually, that was Cheney who had the grand idea to reduce the force size, back when he was aWol's daddy's SoD.

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka G.C.) on December 19, 2007 at 10:20 AM | PERMALINK

Better times are coming.

Just a few FUs more!

Posted by: Disputo on December 19, 2007 at 10:27 AM | PERMALINK

BGRS,

That video was outstanding! It captured the hypocrisy perfectly!

Posted by: Tripp on December 19, 2007 at 10:35 AM | PERMALINK

They sure are a sickly lot, aren't they? Poor dears...Bless their murmuring little hearts....

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka G.C.) on December 19, 2007 at 10:37 AM | PERMALINK

Maybe you should read some of your Congressmen more closely.

Posted by: Mike K on December 19, 2007 at 10:46 AM | PERMALINK

The sad thing is that I know some of the college republican 'type' at the high school level. I pray that they grow out of it but if they are getting rewarded for what they do . . .

Posted by: Tripp on December 19, 2007 at 11:03 AM | PERMALINK

ajay, army doctrine:
Land combat systems may be divided among close combat, air defense and deep battle programs. Close combat is inherent in maneuver and has one purpose—to decide the outcome of battles and engagements. Close combat is combat carried out with direct fire weapons, supported by indirect fire, air-delivered fires, and nonlethal engagement means. Close combat defeats or destroys enemy forces, or seizes and retains ground. The range between combatants may vary from several thousand meters to hand-to-hand combat. Infantry is the basic ground gaining arm of the Army. The mission of the Infantry is to close with the enemy by fire and maneuver in order to destroy or capture him, or to repel his attack by fire, close combat, or counterattack.

Posted by: Don Bacon on December 19, 2007 at 11:03 AM | PERMALINK

Here is a resume of what the Peers Commission found to be a fairly typical OCS officer during the Vietnam War.

Mr. Todd, if you think that being an OCS grad makes an officer inferior to those who graduated from a service academy or ROTC, you're an idiot and an asshole.

If this is not the point you are trying to make, I apologize and ask for you to elucidate.

Posted by: Kolohe on December 19, 2007 at 11:25 AM | PERMALINK

Todays OCS candidates all have at least 90 credit hours from an accredited institution of higher learning to qualify, and most are college graduates. Many are enlisted soldiers who have "bootstrapped" their commissions. The comparison of that white-trash thug Calley with todays OCS candidates is patently unfair, and frankly belies an ignorance of todays armed services.

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka G.C.) on December 19, 2007 at 11:36 AM | PERMALINK

Don:

The military's mission is hardly set in stone. The Army, Navy, and Air Force, for example, all have considerable facilities and experience in disaster relief (natural and man-made). The military in the not-so-distant past has also had experience in nation-building and counterinsurgent operations.

The problem is lack of imagination, training, preparedness, and leadership on the part of US civilian and to a lesser extent military policy makers.

A simplistic approach such as yours guarantees that the US military will continue to be very good at knocking things down, and not so good at helping rebuild. These days, the latter is half the mission.

Posted by: Tom S on December 19, 2007 at 11:38 AM | PERMALINK

Breaking the military is a feature not a bug for republicans. What better way to ensure funding and political support for our new privatized mercenary armies like Blackwater?

What politician would vote against handing over billions to private armies when it becomes clear that our regular military can no longer do the job?

This is all about draining the treasury and privatizing the military, at the same time placing military control beyond the reach of the citizens who pay for it. And it seems to be working pretty well, doesn't it?

Posted by: gypsy howell on December 19, 2007 at 11:45 AM | PERMALINK

Since the US should not be fighting in Iraq, whether it be invasion, occupation or counterinsurgency, the soldiers who are leaving the military are making the correct choice. They should be encouraged to leave. The nation should worry about the officers who stay in the military. They are W. Bush soldiers, and we should be fearful of their motivations.

Posted by: Brojo on December 19, 2007 at 11:46 AM | PERMALINK

Hm. The US military is so powerful as it is, I think if these problems make it a bit less powerful, it won't affect truly important goals, like national security. (Quixotic nation-building missions may suffer.) Also, I haven't heard about problems in the Navy and the Air Force. It was an informative article and I enjoyed reading it, and I'm curious to see how the Army will change in response to the situation, but I don't see much political significance for the nation as a whole.

Posted by: Dave on December 19, 2007 at 11:51 AM | PERMALINK

the soldiers who are leaving the military are making the correct choice

You have to wonder if "Iraq 2.0- Iran Release" isn't looming on the horizon for them as well. What kind future do the folks in our military see for themselves right now, I wonder.


Posted by: gypsy howell on December 19, 2007 at 11:54 AM | PERMALINK

luci wrote: "And what does our over-sized military do, if not stopping invasions or terrorism or nuclear proliferation? It initiates unprovoked wars of aggression against sovereign countries, a.k.a., war crimes."

The unprovoked war of aggression against Iraq, based on lies, was not initiated by the military. It was initiated by the civilian political leadership, namely Dick Cheney and George W. Bush.

Posted by: SecularAnimist on December 19, 2007 at 12:00 PM | PERMALINK

Mike:
The Clinton era cuts made sense. We were downsizing from ColdWar fighting size to adapt to a less dangerous world. When Rumsfeld came back in he diverted resources from boots on the ground to high tech weapons. These folks like fancy toys, they don't like low level soldiers. Unfortunately our mission has now become the occupation of the worlds gas-station to insure SUVs forever. That new mission requires grunts, not F-22s.

Posted by: bigTom on December 19, 2007 at 12:36 PM | PERMALINK

Tom,
The problem is lack of imagination, training, preparedness, and leadership on the part of US civilian and to a lesser extent military policy makers.

Exactly. That's why these officers are leaving. They see the futility of working for generals 'of the old school' who think, as USMC General Mattis does, that "it's fun to shoot people".

So you see it's not MY simplistic approach, it's the approach of the army and marines who trained soldiers to got to Iraq and seek revenge for 9/11 by 'killing ragheads'. Some of them, having seen that their real function was to kill children when they should have been nation-building, like Sergeant Kevin Benderman and Lieutenant Ehren Watada, refused to return to Iraq and were court-martialed. Others, the subject of this thread, just decided to leave the service.

The US imperialistic mission of extending Manifest Destiny to all parts of the globe is essentially wrong--that's the problem. Officer retention is just a symptom. As Smedley Butler said: War is a racket. Honorable people do not enjoy the role of racketeer.

Posted by: Don Bacon on December 19, 2007 at 12:58 PM | PERMALINK

"The unprovoked war of aggression against Iraq, based on lies, was not initiated by the military. It was initiated by the civilian political leadership"

You're right. The military people don't make the ultimate decisions, just execute them. I don't blame them for "initiating" the war, so I misspoke. If the military *did* have problems recruiting, however, and these problems, even marginally, made our civilian leadership think twice before invading a country to impose our will, it would be a *good thing*, IMO.

I think that a reduction of the military by 1/3 or so wouldn't affect wars of necessity, but might affect the decision to undertake wars of choice. (There are cases in between, but Iraq definitely wasn't one).

Posted by: luci on December 19, 2007 at 1:46 PM | PERMALINK

Shorter Mike K: "We have to destroy the military in order to save it."

Posted by: Tyro on December 19, 2007 at 2:37 PM | PERMALINK

Lieutenant Ehren Watada, refused to return to Iraq and were court-martialed.

Pet peeve time. Watada signed on the dotted line well after it should have been obvious to everyone we were going to Iraq. He had never been to Iraq before his refusal. His main contention is that the entire Iraq conflict is illegal, not that he was given a specific illegal order. Putting aside the fact that IMO "the whole war is illegal" is factually incorrect (and I think a civil jury or esp military jury would agree with me if he was actually allowed to go forth with this defense), it is not the job of an O-1/O-2 to declare a war illegal. An order to "shoot those women and children" yields an imperative to disobey; an order to "report to base 'x'" does not.

(don't know the sgt's story so won't comment on that)

Posted by: Kolohe on December 19, 2007 at 3:05 PM | PERMALINK

Don:

I clearly misread your post. Apologies.

Posted by: Tom S on December 19, 2007 at 3:31 PM | PERMALINK

What's the big deal? We can simply replace mid-level military officers with Republican political officers. Oops, never mind - I forgot we already have.

Posted by: CT on December 19, 2007 at 5:21 PM | PERMALINK

Oh, cry me a river. So to summarize:

(1) An organization that did a substantial amount to get us into Iraq in the first place, that has happily become involved in torture along the way (Abu Ghraib), that continues to obfuscate and hide what is actually going on there (refusal to track Iraqi deaths, constant redefinitions of types of US casualties), and that continues to do what it can to keep us there (remember Petraeus) is getting screwed by its stupidity. This is sad why?

(2) So the US army will be weaker in the future. The same US army that has, pretty definitively showed itself to be world-wide Public Enemy number 1 will have a harder time picking on some small weak country and kicking the crap out of it, and this is somehow a bad thing?

At the end of the day, this is pretty much an undisguised blessing for the 98% of the human population that aren't insane GOP supporters.

Posted by: Maynard Handley on December 19, 2007 at 7:03 PM | PERMALINK

So the US army will be weaker in the future. The same US army that has, pretty definitively showed itself to be world-wide Public Enemy number 1 will have a harder time picking on some small weak country and kicking the crap out of it, and this is somehow a bad thing?

Actually, my fear is that just the opposite will happen. The wrong people are staying in, and they are lowering standards all the time to keep up the numbers. We are already seeing it with the problem of gangs in the ranks. They will always have a certain number of Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines. Some of them are my family. When you balance the cold equation, you get this: thugs and hinky troops get other peoples loved ones killed. Bad officers give and follow bad orders, often to the same result.

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka G.C.) on December 19, 2007 at 7:18 PM | PERMALINK

cunning linguist,

thanks for the info.

I'm glad to hear that things have changed for the better, and that the folks in the service now are not doomed forever.

My dad was a Navy flier in WWII (enlisted at 19 on Pearl Harbor Day), and then they called him up for Korea, so he spent another few years as a flight instructor stateside.

It wasn't until sometime in the 1960s that he finally received his permanent retirement papers. I remember that he framed them and hung them up beside his tie-rack so he could see them and thank G*d every morning, that he'd never have to go back. He was in his forties by then.

Posted by: Nancy Irving on December 22, 2007 at 4:40 AM | PERMALINK

Nancy,

My pleasure. Indeed, we aren't doomed forever, although it can feel pretty damn unfair when you serve what you think is the extent of your obligation - that you volunteered to assume - and the military tells you "wait a minute. You're gonna need to stick around and deploy again." It's a pretty tough message to send to someone - your gracious service is not enough and we will extract even more from you, regardless of what it costs you.

For me, everything worked out fine, but I hate to think of what these policies are doing to the long term effectiveness of the military. Look at how this mission is affecting the reserves - we are hollowing them out by forcing them to assume burdens they were never designed to shoulder. What civilian can afford to be away from work for a third deployment in 5 years?

Contrary to what some have said here, a wasted, ineffective, and uncivilized Army is not going to benefit humanity. It will simply limit our options for dealing with future crises such as the Balkans, Rawanda, or Darfur. And we will be less credible when trying to stare down aggression in places like Korea, the Taiwan Straits, Kosovo, or - yes - the Persian Gulf. It will mean more uncertainty, chaos, and violence, not less. And it is one of the consequences that makes the reckless way this war was planned and executed so unforgivable.

Posted by: cunning linguist on December 22, 2007 at 3:03 PM | PERMALINK




 

 

Read Jonathan Rowe remembrance and articles
Email Newsletter icon, E-mail Newsletter icon, Email List icon, E-mail List icon Sign up for Free News & Updates

Advertise in WM



buy from Amazon and
support the Monthly