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View Diary: Why we need to leave Iraq ASAP-from someone who is over there. (223 comments)

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  •  I believe those stats are still true (none)
    Let me start this out with a couple of qualifiers.
    I appreciate this diary.
    I think the invasion of Iraq was indefensible and our continuing occupation of the country sucks.

    One of the problems with people who are in the middle of ANYTHING is that they can only see their community, and that picture can be a distortion of the whole Army. Also, what people say to this soldier may not actually come to pass. I can tell you that I have heard MANY co-workers say that they're gonna quit who never do! Anecdotal evidence can be very accurate, or it can be misleading when one is looking to see what the whole picture might look like.

    From this USA Today article from last summer,

    Soldiers are re-enlisting at rates ahead of the Army's targets, even as overall recruiting is suffering after two years of the Iraq war.
    The high re-enlistment rates would make up about one-third of the Army's projected 12,000-troop shortfall in recruiting, although the re-enlistments won't address some key personnel vacancies, such as military police and bomb-disposal experts.
    Re-enlistment rates the past three years have been at least 6% above the service's goals for the 500,000-member active Army. There are about 105,000 Army soldiers in Iraq, including members of the National Guard and Reserve.
    Michael O'Hanlon, a military analyst at the Brookings Institution, said the bonuses have encouraged soldiers to re-enlist, but that many soldiers are committed to fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan.

    But then, what happened in November of 2005?

    The Army exceeded its recruiting goal in November, the sixth consecutive on-target month, but it has fallen off the pace for meeting its re-enlistment goal for the year, the Pentagon said Monday.
    Army officials have said they expect this to be an extremely difficult year for recruiting, in part because of the Iraq war. In the budget year that ended Sept. 30, the Army fell more than 6,600 recruits short, or about 8 percent below its target of 80,000, although it pointed to strong re-enlistment as a sign that young soldiers find their work rewarding amid speculation that war-time duty is putting too much stress on soldiers.

    Re-enlistment has sagged somewhat since September, however. In October the active-duty Army met 91 percent of its retention goal and in November it got 94 percent, for a combined two-month shortfall of almost 1,000 soldiers.

    Lt. Col. Bryan Hilferty, a spokesman on Army personnel issues, said the monthly retention figures are not necessarily a reliable measure of progress toward meeting the Army's full-year goal because re-enlistments can fluctuate a lot depending on soldiers' deployment schedules. Because re-enlistment bonuses are tax-free if soldiers re-enlist in Iraq or Afghanistan, some put it off until they get there, he said.

    The recruiting results for November were mostly positive, although the Army set a substantially lower goal than in November a year ago. The active-duty Army signed up 5,856, compared to its goal of 5,600. In November 2004 it signed up 6,838 against a goal of 6,800.
    The Army National Guard got 4,960 recruits last month compared to a goal of 4,510, while the Army Reserve fell short with 2,131 compared to a goal of 2,212.

    So it looks to me like re-enlistment might have recently tailed off a little. I am surprised it did not happen sooner, actually, but I believe that the bonuses would keep many people.

    I guess that what is possible is that YEARS ago, they routinely greatly surpassed their re-enlistment goals, and now they are only barely meeting their goals or slightly missing their goals. Until I see figures like that, I am going to believe that in fact the Army has been able to retain a good supply of experienced men. Of course, they may be losing the most important, most weary soldiers who are the most battle-hardened - that could be happening. But I have not seen a lot of evidence that our losses in these battles have been a result, very often, of inexperienced soldiers losing their lives or costing others their lives or their health - it seems like our military does a good job, but the enemy inflicts damage with their guerrilla war.

    And it's undeniably true that our military infrastructure is being degraded to a huge extent, but this news is NOT widely known. We will be paying to resupply our military for the next decade or so to recover from the equipment that will be damaged, destroyed, worn out, or 'donated' to the Iraqi military.

    ...but not your own facts.

    by slouise217 on Tue Feb 28, 2006 at 10:42:59 AM PST

    [ Parent ]

    •  Reminiscent of Vietnam ... (4.00)
      In Vietnam, the 'crisis' for manpower started after the professionals had had several tours.

      Line was something like:

      Corporal -- Headed to Vietnam for first tour -- wife tearful at his leaving.

      Sergeant -- Two years later, going back to Vietnam for that second tour, wife and children tearful at leaving ...

      More senior Sergeant -- Fifth year, Army tasking him to go back to Vietnam for a third time ... wife says:  Its either me or Vietnam ... you go there and I don't know if I'll be here when you get back ...

      By the mid 1970s, the time-in-service of the more senior non-commissioned officer (NCO) ranks had nose-dived as the Army found it harder to keep these people going back time and again into Vietnam.  Similar things happened with junior officer corps.  And, the divorce rate / family crises skyrocketed within the military.

      Now, the 21st century US military is far different than that of 40 years ago ... but, while acknowledging the differences (all volunteer service (okay, except the stop-loss and some callbacks ... not a minor exception), better pay, stronger social support, better connectivity while deployed), the similarities in the stress on the 'system' are concerning.  The promotion rate is skyrocketing (higher percentages getting promoted) as the services seek to deal with mid-career officers and NCOs who are getting out when they can.  There is, almost certainly, a creeping reduction in the age seniority in the mid-level ranks both officers and enlisted.

      Now, again, we should not 'exaggerate' the parallels ... and there are many strengths within the services ... and there are excellent, dedicated individuals who are remaining in the services even under the stress of multiple deployments ... but the stress is showing.

      9/11/05, Day 1469, A count worth keeping? Or, Osama Bin Forgotten?

      by besieged by bush on Tue Feb 28, 2006 at 11:10:03 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  My impression is that reenlisment stats are ok... (none)
      because the person whose tour on active duty is ending is given a choice: 1) reenlist & get a bonus; 2) join the Guard or Active Reserves, with a high chance of being sent back to Iraq anyway with a bunch of strangers & second-rate equipment; 3) separate from the service, in which case they will be stop-lossed & sent back to Iraq anyway, but with NO bonus.

      If you have to stay in, you might as well re-up & get the bonus.

      I don't know if this is true, it's just what I've heard. Can anyone confirm that?

      "I'm having trouble with my boy." -- George H. W. Bush, 2004

      by Shiborg on Tue Feb 28, 2006 at 01:57:11 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

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