dWhat Reenlistment Problem - Road to the Middle Class - by Christopher Chantrill
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What Reenlistment Problem?

by Christopher Chantrill
August 23, 2005 at 11:45 am

BACK IN THE spring, the MSM was trumpeting the news that the U.S. Army was way behind in its recruitment goals. They didn’t say so, but you could read between the lines the awful prospects: understrength units sent to fight in Iraq, plunging morale, humiliating pullout, plunging poll numbers for President Bush.

But a few months later, everything looks hunky-dory, according to Ralph Peters. It turns out that the Army will meet and exceed its recruitment goals after all.

The standout results are the re-enlistment numbers. You could say, if you were a liberal, that continued first-time enlistment was due to the naivété of poor innocent young boys from underprivileged homes who didn’t have any other option but to serve themselves up as cannon fodder. Actually, first time enlistments are right about on quota. But the real story is in re-enlistments. And it is the elite combat units that are really turning in the numbers.

Every one of the Army’s 10 divisions — its key combat organizations — has exceeded its re-enlistment goal for the year to date. Those with the most intense experience in Iraq have the best rates. The 1st Cavalry Division is at 136 percent of its target, the 3rd Infantry Division at 117 percent.

Among separate combat brigades, the figures are even more startling, with the 2nd Brigade of the 2nd Infantry Division at 178 percent of its goal and the 3rd Brigade of the 4th Mech right behind at 174 percent of its re-enlistment target.

How could this happen? It’s going to take quite a bit of explaining away. But don’t worry. After the MSM has gone through it’s silence phase on the topic, we will start to see explanations. It’s not what you think, we will read. Things are really going badly. Some specialties are suffering such poor re-enlistment rates that it will soon affect combat readiness.

The truth is that, in the aftermath of Vietnam, the U.S. armed forces have spent a generation learning how to create soldiers according to the pattern advocated by the brilliant German General von Seekt: “self-reliant, self-confident, dedicated, and joyful in taking responsibility.” You could call the process making a band of brothers.

That is what the U.S. armed forces have learned to do, and that is why re-enlistment rates are sky high.

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Christopher Chantrill blogs at www.roadtothemiddleclass.com.  His Road to the Middle Class is forthcoming.


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