Attrition: Soldiers Win Their War, No One Cares

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June 12, 2006: The U.S. Army has met its recruiting goals for twelve months in a row. The army continues to see above average (pre-911) re-enlistments by troops, especially those who have been to Iraq or Afghanistan. The news media has tried to findnegative stories in the recruiting situation, and thought it had one when the army missed its recruiting goals for several months over a year ago. Attempts to portray the military recruiters as preying on the poor and ignorant also backfired, once it was pointed out that recruits are still above average in terms of education and family income. The Department of Defense has had a hard time getting journalists to understand how the voluntary military operates. The historically low casualty rates have a lot to do with the high quality of the recruits, but that doesn't seem to be a story anyone wants to cover. The military tends to keep the recruits coming largely via word of mouth from existing troops and veterans, who are able to stay in touch via the Internet, and provide a quite different, and more credible, account of that is going on than the mass media. The troops think they are making a difference, that they are winning the war on terror. But that isn't considered news.

 


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