Attrition: Tempting Tuition


June 8, 2006: The U.S. Department of Defense has been very active, during the last three years, at coming up with new incentives to get people to join, and also leave, military service. The latest benefit for attracting troops would enable the transfer of G.I. Bill educational benefits to a spouse. Most troops are married these days, and the military is looking for well educated troops. These troops usually marry equally education minded spouses. While this program is mainly for the army, the other services can use it to attract the kind of people they want for an increasingly high-tech force.

The army has had troops overseas in combat zones for five years now. Nearly a million soldiers have served in combat zones, and suffered over 20,000 casualties. But the army has managed to recruit enough troops to maintain its strength. This is unprecedented, although largely unrecognized. Most of the needed recruiting was accomplished by above average numbers of combat troops reenlisting because they believed their efforts had made a difference. Many recruits were brought in via word-of-mouth from the combat veterans. But the army has been changing its recruiting polices in response to feedback from troops and potential recruits, and the G.I. Bill transfer is another example of that.

Meanwhile, the navy and air force are downsizing. To that end, the navy is changing its retirement rules for officers who started out as enlisted (and then went to officers training school after some years as enlisted sailors.) Currently, such officers must have at least ten years service before they can retire. The new rule would only require eight years service as an officer. This will make it easier to encourage a few hundred unneeded officers to retire early and start another, civilian, career.


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