RANGER AGAINST WAR: Foxhole 90210 <

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Foxhole 90210

As though Friedman wasn't enough for today, the Times carried another Op-Ed piece written by a director and an analyst from the Heritage Foundation extolling the quality of last year's military recruits. The first thing that crosses my mind is, have these "demographic data" crunchers ever known a soldier, or even talked to one?

Cutting to the chase--yes, there are a lot of smart people in the U.S. military, but let's get real. Would you rather be chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, or CEO of your choice of company?

The article states that "youths from wealthy American zip codes are volunteering in ever higher numbers." Where are these statistics? "Ever higher" isn't exactly statistician lingo; it could mean a jump from zero to two. The article goes on to say:

"the Army is crediting its current recruiting success, in part, to significant cash bonuses and other financial perks. And that's the way it should be: using market incentives for volunteers, not a draft of the less fortunate."
But the bonuses and financial perks are aimed at the less fortunate. Can you imagine the Trumps, Bushes, Cheneys, etc., having offspring enlisting for a college fund bonus? A $68,000 bonus fund hook is chump change for say, Jenna Bush and her league.

On to Category 4 enlistments (the lowest level of service admission.) The authors admit that 4.4 % of Army recruits now score at this level, as opposed to 2 % in previous years. They fail to mention that over the last 25 years the Army has renormed its scores, and today's Category 4's are not as educable as say their Vietnam War counterparts were.

As a Platoon leader I had a Category 4 mortar gunner. I remember him fondly, but I don't believe he should have been deployed to a combat environment. As well-meaning and dedicated as he was, there was always the danger to himself and others to consider.

This additional danger should not be added to the mix as it makes a difficult leadership scenario even more onerous. I'm proud of the soldier I mention, but these CAT 4's should not be placed in combat specialties, and
this is where they always end up. Does anyone imagine that CAT 4's will enjoy complex technological positions in the military?

The 4.4% figure translates roughly to 9 soldiers per 200. This could mean one per combat platoon. Every link must be strong in a military chain, and putting a CAT 4 in committed platoons is not a wise idea for anyone involved.

In addition, CAT 4's were were frequently eliminated after their basic enlistment, due to Qualitative Management Policies and re-enlistment GT score requirements, which are higher for reenlistment. In other words, the Army says, "Thanks for coming, thanks for serving, but you're too dumb to reenlist."

I'd be thrilled if someone could provide reenlistment quota data to prove me wrong.

As for the title, which says there are no atheists or idiots in foxholes, I'd add that there are no rich people, either. I know that soldiers do not qualify for Bush's tax cuts, and the Army Times rarely covers estate tax issues.


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