Attrition: The Small Print in Officers Commissions


May 18, 2006: Officers in the U.S. Army Reserve are learning about the small print in their commissions. Harkening back to the ancient tradition that an officer was an officer for life, the army is invoking a regulation that allows an officers "offer" to quit ("resign their commission") to be rejected. This is done when an officer has a critical skill that is in short supply, or is due for a trip to a combat zone, and replacements are hard to come by. This policy has been used since 2003, and about four hundred officers have, so far, been told to keep their commissions, at least for the moment. Ten of those officers are currently suing the army.

The whole officer thing descended from the ancient concept of "royal officers." Knights were royal officers, and once you were one, you were one for life. Several centuries ago, the modern concept of officers evolved. But these officials could be inactive (because they were not needed at the moment) or retired (due to age or injury) at half (or no) pay. Since, originally, you became an officer by invitation ("commission") of the king, you couldn't just walk away without offending His Highness. The State has replaced The King, but the relationship has remained, at least in the small print, remarkably stable.


Article Archive

Attrition: Current 2021 2020 2019 2018 2017 2016 2015 2014 2013 2012 2011 2010 2009 2008 2007 2006 2005 2004 2003 2002 2001 2000 1999 



Help Keep Us Soaring

We need your help! Our subscription base has slowly been dwindling. We need your help in reversing that trend. We would like to add 20 new subscribers this month.

Each month we count on your subscriptions or contributions. You can support us in the following ways:

  1. Make sure you spread the word about us. Two ways to do that are to like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.
  2. Subscribe to our daily newsletter. We’ll send the news to your email box, and you don’t have to come to the site unless you want to read columns or see photos.
  3. You can contribute to the health of StrategyPage. A contribution is not a donation that you can deduct at tax time, but a form of crowdfunding. We store none of your information when you contribute..
Subscribe   Contribute   Close