So, you've found yourself assigned to the infantry
Welcome to the grunts, former artillerymen
Army to spread burden of combat
Updated 10/27/2006 10:25 AM ET
By Tom Vanden Brook, USA TODAY
WASHINGTON — The prospect of combat in Iraq for at least another four years is prompting the Army to realign its forces to prevent a small slice of soldiers who are shouldering much of the fighting from wearing out.
Pentagon records show one-fifth of the Army's active-duty troops have served multiple tours of war duty while more than 40% haven't been deployed to Iraq or Afghanistan.
That disparity is behind the Army's plans to shift some soldiers to high-demand wartime specialties that could ease the burden on combat forces.
The Army announced this month that it plans to maintain its current force level in Iraq through 2010. There are about 105,000 soldiers in Iraq, 15,000 in Kuwait and 16,000 in Afghanistan.
The Army is moving soldiers from specialties such as artillery and air defense to high-demand roles: infantry, engineering, military police and intelligence, Special Forces, civil affairs and psychological operations, said Lt. Gen. Michael Rochelle, deputy chief of staff for Army personnel.
The Army has more soldiers deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan than the other services combined. It expects to complete the realignment by 2011.
Marine Gen. Peter Pace, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, acknowledged this week that the Pentagon is sending active-duty troops overseas more frequently than it wants to, which is once in three years.
About 42% of the Army's 500,000 active-duty soldiers have not deployed to Iraq or Afghanistan. They include about 80,000 fresh recruits, most of whom are being trained. More than 90,000 others are in the so-called institutional Army, those who train, equip and manage soldiers.
By 2011, there will be 50,000 more troops available for deployment than in 2001. Part of that will be accomplished by having civilian Army employees take over certain jobs from soldiers, freeing them up to fight.
Five years of fighting have put the Army on the verge of wearing out vital soldiers, said James Carafano, a retired Army colonel and military analyst at the Heritage Foundation.
So guess what happens? People start leaving the military.
Infanty isn't for everyone, and once you start forcing people into being 11B's, they're gonna find ways to get out of the Army. Before the Iraq War, it was pretty hard to be an infantryman. Despite the image of cannon fodder, only the most fit and motivated men chose the crossed rifles as their MOS. Most people are quite happy to sit at a keyboard or drive a truck, get out and find a job.
So when men chose 11B, recruiters were careful to weed out the loons and gun nuts and push the ex-jocks and the hard workers to the combat arms. Three years ago a Steven Green wouldn't have been allowed near an infantry unit. Now, he's on trial for rape-murder.
I know people doubt this, but look at this way. The people who run the military come from the combat arms. Even if they wind up in a non-combat arms branch at the end of their career, leadership under arms is how the winners in the Army are chosen. Senior NCO's also come from the combat arms. So they used to pick and choose who got to join the grunts.
There is no room for error in a combat unit. People depend on you doing your job. Slackers and the slowwitted get people killed.
The fact that the Army now has to demoblize people and force them into the grunts is the latest decline of the Army.
posted by Steve @ 1:03:00 AM