Took the kids skiing at Keystone (Summit County, Colorado) yesterday - wife was at an executive retreat for the weekend. Sat at lunch and the couples next to us (one to my right and one across from them) got started talking.
The couple to my right were both former US Army - both out less than a year. She was in aviation (now working in that field in civilians) and I didn't get his field. She had been in for ten years, he was in for six and a half. Their experiences and why they aren't there any more? below
They got married in the military (they may have met there - I was talking to a kid when that part was discussed). In the last five years she has had two tours in Iraq, he had one in Iraq and one in Afghanistan. In that five years they had spent less than one year together. They had originally intended to be career. But they had been told that if they stayed in she was going to be headed back to Iraq for fifteen months (to be extended to eighteen) and then he would be headed over for the same shift afterwards.
Please note three things to this:
First, the military - knowing their married status had plans to place their overseas tours back to back;
Second, a year ago personnel had inklings of rotation plans for at least three more years in country. (Glad this surge is the way we get out).
Three, the core of our military - the career soldier - is coming to the conclusion it ain't worth it. Even for the $40,000 or higher reenlistment bonuses we are seeing. I will note that during my travels more of the people I see staying in are the people staying in are the people in the infantry - the core of he military. It is technical training specialties (with their corresponding higher training costs but higher civilian income counterparts) where they pull the plug quicker. This means that the support skills are bleeding out quicker.
Leads to two higher cost structures - the infantry have the highest casualty rate, medical costs and disability costs. At the same time, more training costs are coming from the technical side. Just another bill to come due over time for the debacle this administration has made of the most professional and highly trained military force in the world.