GI marching away from re-enlistment?

Discussion in 'Middle East - General' started by brneyedgrl80, Jun 14, 2004.

  1. brneyedgrl80
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    brneyedgrl80 Member

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    Do you guys think this is widespread?

    GIs marching away from re-enlistment
    War may have some Fort Carson troops leaving the ranks

    By Dick Foster, Rocky Mountain News
    June 14, 2004

    COLORADO SPRINGS - Army re-enlistments have dropped suddenly and dramatically at Fort Carson and several other posts where combat units have recently returned from Iraq.

    The surprising decline within the past 21/2 months has jolted recruiters and military analysts and provoked questions about the war's effect on the Army's recruiting ability.


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    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.

    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.

    "That's a lot lower than where we want to be, especially on mid-careers," said Master Sgt. Scott Leeling, a Fort Carson recruiter.

    "But I don't see this as being a trend," he said. "Last quarter, we were unbelievably successful. I look to see a dramatic increase in the next 30 to 45 days."

    Fort Carson is just about meeting quotas for re-enlistments of smaller numbers of older career soldiers - those serving 10 or more years.

    Quotas are set quarterly by the Army for each installation. The numbers reflect the current quarter, which ends June 30. The Army as a whole is close to its year-to-date goal, the Pentagon said.

    Fort Carson's re-enlistments could be lagging because some soldiers are still on 30-day leave after Iraq deployment and might sign up when they return to duty, Leeling suggested.

    But others familiar with the Army think the numbers could signal growing discontent. Iraq may be exposing some vulnerabilities of an undersized, overstretched Army.

    "It sounds to me like the Army is voting with its feet," said John Pike, director of GlobalSecurity.org, an Alexandria, Va., think tank.

    Married soldiers, who now make up half of the Army, are growing weary of repeated, yearlong deployments away from their families, Pike and others believe.

    "We've gone from an unmarried Army to a married Army. These guys have come back from Iraq now, but you tell them they're going back within a year, and the wives are raising hell," said Dennis McCormack, a retired helicopter pilot who served in Vietnam and Desert Storm.

    Fort Carson isn't alone with sharp re-enlistment drops during the past 90 days. According to Army figures:

    • 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.

    At Fort Stewart, Ga., where the 3rd Infantry Division returned from Iraq, the Army used cash bonus incentives to re-enlist 95 percent of its first-term quota and reach 100 percent of its mid-career goal.

    No cash incentives have been authorized at Fort Carson or other posts, Leeling said. And there's no guarantee the money would lure everyone.

    "I've been away more than I've been home. I want to live my life with my kids and my family," said Jimmy Ray Sandoval, who has been to Korea, Bosnia and Iraq.

    After missing his son's birth and his daughter's birthday in Iraq, Sandoval came home last Christmas and left the Army with the rank of corporal.

    McCormack has heard it from other soldiers. "These guys have come home and had some time to be with their families. Then the rumors start flying that they're going back within a year," he said.

    "They've asked themselves, 'Do I really want to do that again?' You're making $20,000 or $25,000 a year and liable to get killed. They lost a lot of guys," he said.

    As of Friday, 827 U.S. troops had died in Iraq, 45 from Fort Carson. More than 5,000 have been wounded.

    The improved economy also may play a role in a soldier's decision to leave the military.

    The Army said that despite the recent downturn, enough soldiers re-enlisted through May to make 98 percent of its year-to-date retention goal, 56,100 re-enlistments.

    And new enlistments nationwide aren't a problem, the Army said. It was on track to meet its goal of 77,000 new recruits this year, with 48,939 on May 26.

    "We're guardedly optimistic. A lot of things could happen, but right now we're in good shape," said Lt. Col. Frank Childress, a Pentagon spokesman.

    Sgt. David Cramer, a 10-year Army veteran, was among four mid-career sergeants who re-enlisted Thursday at Fort Carson. "The biggest thing is the feeling you get that you're doing something historic, that you're helping to make those things come about," he said.

    But the recent declines at Fort Carson and elsewhere are the first weakness in enlistments since the war began. Pike believes the Army "is in a race" against time to reduce Iraq troop commitments before larger numbers of soldiers begin leaving.

    http://www.rockymountainnews.com/drmn/america_at_war/article/0,1299,DRMN_2116_2961385,00.html
     
  2. 5stringJeff
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    5stringJeff Senior Member

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    I think there's less to this story than it seems. Army-wide, reenlistment rates are steady. Not to mention, soldiers who have been waiting to get out (end their enlistments and become civilians again) have not been able to get out while their units were deployed, nor were they able to get out for the last few months prior. So you've got about 18 months worth of people who wanted to get out of the military all leaving at once. That will temporarily drive down reenistment rates, but, like I said, Army-wide the rates are pretty stable.
    So I am not worried. I think there will be plenty of soldiers reenlisting.
     
  3. Annie
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    Annie Diamond Member

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    My understanding is that the re-uping rates are high, but it's harder to recruit. Yet the recruits they get are better than before.

    Just my take on what I'm gleaning from reading.
     
  4. freeandfun1
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    freeandfun1 VIP Member

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    I see what is happening now as how it was after GW 1. I got out in April of 92 after 8 years and was tired of the Army. It is common for guys to get out after having 6 - 10 years in. Many enlist for three years, then re-up for 4 - 6 based on bonuses etc. That means they get out after 7 - 9 years. It is part of the normal eb and flow of the military.

    However, I do think that as the economy improves, fewer and fewer will be "willing" to enlist and that is why we need a better equipped, more agile, higher quality and better paid military. That or the draft.
     
  5. insein
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    insein Senior Member

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    the draft would counter act everything you said we need. We don't need bodies. We need highly trained and motivated soldiers. I agree that they need pay raises, the best equipment, and the best training. Skill over bulk.
     
  6. Annie
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    Annie Diamond Member

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    Just my opinion, but I think the kids signing up now are not thinking about their ticket to college. They are looking for discipline or are patriotic, something along those lines. I figure that their thinking is, 'IF I make it out, I'll see what's there for me...'
     
  7. freeandfun1
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    freeandfun1 VIP Member

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    I totally agree. I am just saying that the "new" military sits in a precarious position. We either have to have a very well paid, highly trained and effective military that is well equipped or we have to have a draft.

    If we are not careful and we underfund the troops, we will make ilitary service an even more stressful job. I remember in `88 when housing prices got so high around Ft. Ord, CA. The married troops that could not get on base housing were having a very hard time surviving. The suicide rate was high and the divorce rate was alarming. The troops not only had to deal with the stresses of training and deployments, they also had to worry about making enough money to support their families. It was tough.

    I digressed..... damn

    Anyway, we either have to keep a highly effective and supported military, or we have to go to a low paid, poorly supported draft military to get the numbers that will be needed to fight the ongoing war. If that happens, we really will be sending our boys and girls off to die for the sake of "social programs" here at home.

    I want to see that well paid, highly motivated, well trained option myself. But that might depend on who our next president is and what battles lie ahead.....

    jmho
     
  8. americanexpo
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    there could be better benefits too. a lot of guys in the marines and army deserve a lot more than they're getting right now. a draft would ruin any and all progress made.
     
  9. freeandfun1
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    freeandfun1 VIP Member

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    I am in no way advocating a draft. I am firmly against one. I am just stating that we have one of two choices:

    1. A highly trained and motivated military that receives good pay and benefits (so as to attract the best) or

    2. A draft military of larger numbers of troops that are poorly trained, poorly equipped and not at all motivated.

    If we move forward on the basis of option one, we will attract and retain good soldiers. But if we start letting the benefits, pay, equipment, etc. standards slip, then the only way we can get the numbers we need is to draft. Our leaders better keep their heads out of the sand and do what is right and not politicize this issue.
     
  10. Shazbot
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    Not saying this speaks for the majority or anything, but I've a friend who's about to report back to his unit in the marines after a special leave. He's all talking about how after a tour in Iraq (1-2 years or however long it ends up being) will get him $20,000, plus full-ride scholarships to any college (probably public) in either Texas or Michigan, all the way through his PhD. $20,000 doesn't seem so great, but the education benefits are quite outstanding. A plus, too, is that he isn't scared in the least to go over there. He looks at the numbers instead of the news. In all reality, our casualty rate over there is so low, it's almost completely insignificant. 800 or so out of over 200,000 in over a year.

    -Douglas
     

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