Daily Kos
Political analysis and other daily rants on the state of the nation

Tuesday | September 30, 2003

Bush's "hollow army"?

The Pentagon recently reported strong recruitment into its active forces, fueled by the nation's economic troubles.

However, things are far bleaker in the National Guard and Reserves, where "weekend warriors" are tired of year-long deployments away from family and jobs.

If the United States is unable to recruit significantly more international troops or quell the violence in Iraq in the next few months, it could trigger an exodus of active and reserve forces, the head of the U.S. Army Reserve said Monday [...]

The Army National Guard and Army Reserve have about one-fourth of their troops nearly 129,000 soldiers on active duty.

The active-duty Army and the Army Reserve both met their recruiting goals for the fiscal year that ends today. The Army National Guard, however, is expected to fall about 15% short of its recruiting goal of 62,000 soldiers.

Although the Guard and Reserve say their retention rates have not suffered this year, the figures could be misleading. Under an order known as "stop loss," soldiers on active duty are prohibited from leaving the service until their tours end.

There's no doubt that once stop-loss is eased, an exodus of personnel will flee the services. Not only will the Guard and Reserves be hit hard, but active duty personnel -- who make up the bulk of part-time soldier recruits -- will be less likely to transition to reserve or guard duty.

And the active duty military is maintaining strength based only on 1) stop-loss orders that prevent them from leaving the service, and 2) the poor economy. Hardly the foundation for the effective, long-term, health of our armed forces.

Posted September 30, 2003 10:54 AM | Comments (42)


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