An Army of One

Once again, it’s looking like the United States Army’s unfortunate choice of advertising slogans is a reflection of it’s intended force levels, as it looks like May’s Army recruiting goals were off by either 25% if you believe the “revised” numbers, or over 37% if you believe the actual numbers (the Grey Lady’s piece notes that there will be skepticism caused by the self-serving revision… to coin a phrase… ya’ think?)
This is all part of a growing trend: our military’s largest (and coolest) branches, the Navy and Air Force, which, by and large, do not have heavy contingents on the ground in Iraq, are generally meeting their recruiting goals, whereas the less cool Army and the Marine Corps, which do have heavy contingents on the ground in Iraq, are not. I realize that a lawyer arguing the scientific connection of those facts might contend there was no “proven” relationship (in a “beyond a reasonable doubt” sense to some people), but apparently, our nation’s youth seems to think there is, nonetheless, and is voting with its boots.
I tend to go back to what I view as that squandered opportunity we had for those few months after 9-11-01, when, instead of a call for national service that might have enabled the nation to meet national service needs of any kind imaginable, we were instead told to shop. This, in turn, was followed by the lengthy machinations leading up to the Iraq War, followed by the rather unfortunate history of the amazingly rapid victory over the amazingly rapidly collapsed Iraqi military under Saddam Hussein, followed by the easily predictable insurgency with its bloody results.
The Army faces a difficult conundrum; in the short term, it appears that various retention gimmicks have, perhaps, stanched the outward flow of exiting soldiers. On the other hand, army work is, ultimately, a young person’s game, and a nation of 280 million people having trouble meeting manpower needs in the range of 8,000 per month for its army at a time when it is involved in a large-scale ground combat purportedly for its own defense is, to coin a phrase, not good news.