The marriage or the Army
Are his leaders the best they can be?
THE CONFLICT IN IRAQ
Army's Rising Promotion Rate Called Ominous
Experts say the quality of the officer corps is threatened as the service fights to retain leaders during wartime and fill new command slots.
By Mark Mazzetti
Times Staff Writer
January 30, 2006
WASHINGTON — Struggling to retain enough officers to lead its forces, the Army has begun to dramatically increase the number of soldiers it promotes, raising fears within the service that wartime strains are diluting the quality of the officer corps.
Last year, the Army promoted 97% of all eligible captains to the rank of major, Pentagon data show. That was up from a historical average of 70% to 80%.
Traditionally, the Army has used the step to major as a winnowing point to push lower-performing soldiers out of the military.
The service also promoted 86% of eligible majors to the rank of lieutenant colonel in 2005, up from the historical average of 65% to 75%.
The higher rates of promotion are part of efforts to fill new slots created by an Army reorganization and to compensate for officers who are resigning from the service, many after multiple rotations to Iraq.
The promotion rates "are much higher than they have been in the past because we need more officers than we did before," said Lt. Col. Bryan Hilferty, an Army spokesman.
The Army has long taken pride in the competitiveness of its promotions, and insists that only officers that meet rigorous standards are elevated through its ranks.
They say that with many officers in line for a third yearlong combat tour in Iraq, it is inevitable that a growing number would choose to leave the military to relieve strain on their family lives.
The exodus "will be among officers whose families say, 'Look, there are 300 million people in this country; let somebody else take their turn,' " McCaffrey said.
The Pentagon-commissioned report, released publicly last week, agreed.
Hilferty, the Army spokesman, said there was only "anecdotal evidence" that the strains of war were pushing officers out of the Army.
But, he said, the Army has begun a series of initiatives to keep young officers in its ranks, including a program that pays graduate school tuition for those who agree to sign up for more years of military service.
Krepinevich, in his study, warned of other "storm clouds on the horizon" for the Army, including the rise in divorce rates for active-duty soldiers.
Also, the Army has begun lowering recruiting requirements, such as accepting more high school dropouts and Category IV recruits — those who score near the bottom of the military's entrance exam.
Commanders in Iraq say morale among officers and enlisted soldiers in the field remains strong, even among those wrapping up their second tour of duty in some of the country's most violent territory.
"Are our professional commitments as soldiers out of whack with our family and personal lives for these troopers? I mean, certainly they are," said Army Col. H.R. McMaster, commander of the 3rd Armored Calvary Regiment that serves in Iraq's restive Al Anbar province. "But you know, it's wartime, and our troopers understand it."
Oh, bullshit. I like McMasters, his boys are certainly loyal to him, but come on, morale is high and only the absolute worst captains are not making major? People are placing their marriages ahead of their careers and morale is high?
That's truthiness in action. Because it means that you have the facts, and you have what people are wishing are facts.
I'd like to see the divorce filings for Pendleton/29 Palms, Lejune, Benning, Riley and Hood. I'd bet you dollars to donuts, divorce lawyers are cashing in like lottery winners.
A young wife can tolerate one tour, but three? The fear just builds up to the point that a choice has to be made. And in the combat arms, the guilt is especially strong. How do you leave your men to face Iraq again? But how do you let your wife leave? Easier to not reenlist again.
Ever notice all of the PTSD stories center around young EM's and NCO's? When have you ever seen a young Captain interviewed about his combat stress. The guilt of combat, and of command must be especially heavy.
This is the Rusty Calley factor. Are you promoting officers to fill slots when they shouldn't be promoted? Because the consequences of this could be horrific.
posted by Steve @ 8:38:00 AM