Sunday, January 23, 2005

Stories the MSM Misses: Marines Re-up in "Record Numbers"

Strategy Page reports (under the unpleasant grouping of "Attrition" which is fine if they are reporting on the "attrition" of enemy forces as well as our own) Marines Reenlist in Record Numbers:
The U.S. Marine Corps has experienced a large increase in first term marines reenlisting. In the first three months of fiscal 2005, they have reenlisted over 75 percent of the first term marines they wanted to get for this fiscal year (which ends at the end of September.) Moreover, they are getting more of the higher quality marines (high school graduates, those in the best physical condition and those who score highest on aptitude tests). These marines know there’s a war on, and they believe they are making a difference.

Following this news is a report that the Army National Guard is running 26% behind on recruiting. Without further analysis, the number doesn't mean much. How many of those who do not reenlist in the National Guard are converting to the regular army or to the Marines? How many are hitting retirement age? How many people who might normally enlist in the National Guard are joining the active services instead? The Army NG is inceasing reenlistment bonuses in certain critical need areas.
...enlistment bonuses (for the ten most needed occupational specialties, like infantry, military police and transportation) have been increased from $5,000 to $15,000 (for those who sign up for six years in the Guard.) Same thing for those who re-enlist for another six years. Also, the bonuses can be paid for those with 16 years of service, versus the previous 14 years. At twenty years, National Guardsmen are eligible for a pension [Eagle1 note: Reserve pensions don't start until the retiree reaches age 60 - as opposed to active duty pensions which start immediately upon retirement]... Some 40 percent of the troops in Afghanistan and Iraq are reservists, although only 22 percent of the casualties are reservists [Eagle1 question: What percent of the reservists are Army National Guard? This number mixes two different pools of troops] . This is because most of the heavy duty combat is performed by active duty troops. The reservists concentrate on support and security operations {Eagle1 note: this by design of the Pentagon, not due to choices made by the army National Guard].

I should also note that reservists and National Guard personnel are generally subject to different pressures from home than active duty personnel. Assume that the Guard and Reserve is largely composed of men and women who once served on active duty and made the decision once to leave active service to enter civilian life -for family or other reasons. That they also decided to keep a foot in the military by joining the Reserves or Guard is commendable, but since they already decided that active service wasn't for them once, why would we expect them to suddenly find it "okay?" Family, civilian job, and money issues are all different for people who are used to having two incomes - one from a daily civilian job and some from drill weekend and annual training (and some employers even pay full salary while the member is on such training). It can create quite a financial hardship for those who are called up. I know from personal experience that customers lost by small business because the owner was activated and deployed are hard to win back.

Now, all things being equal, which part of the "recruiting news" will the MSM pick up on?

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