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June 16, 2004

Iraq War Destroying Army

Well, Bush has accomplished one mission-- undermining the future of the military as more and more GIs decide not to reenlist.

It's hardly surprising that young kids, originally looking for help for college, would decide that military service in Iraq isn't what they originally signed up for:

Since Fort Carson units began coming home in April, post recruiters have met only 57 percent of their quota for re-enlisting first-term soldiers for a second hitch, according to an Army report.
But the real danger sign is the failure of mid-career folks to reup:
More disturbing, recruiters say, is they're re-enlisting only 46 percent of the quota for "mid-career" noncommissioned officers. These are the young sergeants with four to 10 years of experience who are the backbone of the Army - its skilled soldiers, mentors and future senior NCOs.
Part of the problem is that these mid-career folks are often married, and being separated from their families for possibly years on end for a war many in the military see as a mistake doesn't make the life attractive.

And these numbers apply across the country:

At Fort Bragg, N.C., home of the 82nd Airborne Division, recruiters have met 65 percent of their goal of first-termers and 80 percent of the goal for mid-career soldiers.

At Fort Riley, Kan., whose 1st Brigade, 1st Infantry Division remains deployed in Iraq, re-enlistments are off sharply. Recruiters have signed only 50 percent of its quota for first-term re-enlistees, and 57 percent for mid-career soldiers.

Across the Army's massive III Corps, which includes Fort Hood's 4th Infantry and 1st Cavalry divisions as well as Fort Carson's combat units, only 51 percent of first-termers and 54 percent of the mid-career soldiers are signing up.

Maybe these numbers are a temporary blip, but losing almost half of mid-career soldiers, if the trend holds up, could rapidly empty the army of the long-term institutional intelligence and training of the military-- a legacy of the Iraq war that could hurt the country deeply if a real military need arises.

Posted by Nathan at June 16, 2004 05:03 AM