What Iraq has done to the officer corps

It has become de rigueur around Washington to speak of the U.S. armed forces as "broken." And it's no secret that the U.S. military is spending big bucks to recruit and retain warriors—the Pentagon plans to spend some $200 million on retention and recruitment bonuses in fiscal year 2008 alone. But it's hard to get a grasp ...

It has become de rigueur around Washington to speak of the U.S. armed forces as "broken." And it's no secret that the U.S. military is spending big bucks to recruit and retain warriors—the Pentagon plans to spend some $200 million on retention and recruitment bonuses in fiscal year 2008 alone. But it's hard to get a grasp on just how bad the problem is. So cheers to Michael Goldfarb over at the Weekly Standard for highlighting a recent column by McClatchy's Joe Galloway, who paints a truly terrifying picture of what's happening to the officer corps:

Even with the offer of the cash bonus or free graduate school or their choice of assignments, the exodus of young officers continues to grow at a pace that worries commanders. The U.S. Military Academy at West Point was founded to educate career officers for the Army, and upon graduation each officer owes Uncle Sam five years on active duty. The hope is that most will remain for a full career, and historically just 28.8 percent have opted out after five years.

A total of 35 percent of the West Point Class of 2000 left the Army in 2005; 46 percent of the Class of 2001 left in 2006, and a staggering 58 percent of the Class of 2002 left active duty when their obligation expired this year.

It has become de rigueur around Washington to speak of the U.S. armed forces as "broken." And it's no secret that the U.S. military is spending big bucks to recruit and retain warriors—the Pentagon plans to spend some $200 million on retention and recruitment bonuses in fiscal year 2008 alone. But it's hard to get a grasp on just how bad the problem is. So cheers to Michael Goldfarb over at the Weekly Standard for highlighting a recent column by McClatchy's Joe Galloway, who paints a truly terrifying picture of what's happening to the officer corps:

Even with the offer of the cash bonus or free graduate school or their choice of assignments, the exodus of young officers continues to grow at a pace that worries commanders. The U.S. Military Academy at West Point was founded to educate career officers for the Army, and upon graduation each officer owes Uncle Sam five years on active duty. The hope is that most will remain for a full career, and historically just 28.8 percent have opted out after five years.

A total of 35 percent of the West Point Class of 2000 left the Army in 2005; 46 percent of the Class of 2001 left in 2006, and a staggering 58 percent of the Class of 2002 left active duty when their obligation expired this year.

Those figures are mirrored among officers who are commissioned through university ROTC programs, with attrition rates now at a 30-year high. The Army Reserve reports that the situation is even worse for critical ranks and specialties: The Reserve has only 58 percent of the sergeants first class it needs, 53 percent of the needed captains and 74 percent of needed majors."

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