Attrition: U.S. Troops Vote With Their Feet

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July 14, 2006: The U.S. military recruited all the people it needed in June, and, for the current fiscal year (which began on last October 1st), have brought in more people than they need. The armed forces needed 120,130 recruits and re-enlistments for the year-to-date and exceeded that by 2,256. For the reserves, 101,248 were needed for the year-to-date, but only 101,185 were recruited, coming up short 63 people (less than a tenth of a percent). This recruiting activity doesn't make the news, which in itself is not unusual, as good news has never been profitable in the news business. But the story behind the continued recruiting success does contain the germ of a good headline or two. That's because a major reason for the good recruiting numbers can be found in the above average re-enlistment rates, and the positive word-of-mouth from veterans of the fighting. For someone who doesn't know someone in the military, or has not read some of the blogs by these folks, the high recruiting numbers make no sense. The mass media has largely bought into the idea that American activities in Iraq and Afghanistan have been a disaster. But to the people who have actually been closest to the action, just the opposite is the case. Who to believe? The mass media, when pressed, dismisses the opinion of the troops as being "too close to the action to see the big picture." Whoever you believe, the troops have voted with their feet, and joined up at levels higher than in peace time.

 


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