Attrition: Blue to Green Bombs

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February 10, 2006: Two years ago, the U.S. Army established the Blue to Green program, in an attempt to persuade many of the 27,000 sailors and airmen being laid off (as the navy and air force cut their strength), to move over to the army. It wasexpected that at least 3,500 sailors and airmen would switch. Didn't work out that way, as they have only gotten about 400 so far. The biggest obstacle seems to be cultural. The navy and air force troops are not used to deploying (being sent overseas and living rough while over there). Media coverage of army non-combat troops engaged in combat is also a big turn off. People don't join the navy or air force for that sort of thing. The army is addressing those fears, by pointing out that most non-combat troops in Iraq and Afghanistan are not involved in any combat. But if you are in a transportation or military police unit, you can expect to get shot at. Most of the navy and air force people considering finishing their twenty year careers (and getting a half pay pension) by transferring to the army (with their rank and time in service intact) are not in transportation or military police jobs, but other non-combat skills that will keep them away from the fighting. But there's still that business about, "going into the field" (everyone gets in a vehicle and goes "camping" for a few days, or more.) Culture clash is only one of the thingskilling "Blue to Green." A robust civilian job market, which is eager to hire the well trained and disciplined sailors and airmen, provides an attractive alternative to the army. Despite the low turnout, the army will continue the program. The sailors and airmen who did make the switch have done well, and brought years of military experience with them.

 


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