Murphy's Law: February 12, 2004

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Lots of headlines about American National Guard troops being sent overseas again and again over the last two years. The headlines are accurate, but misleading. Since September 11, 2001, most (60 percent) of reserve and National Guard troops have not been mobilized. Many have been called up more than once, but 96 percent have not. This explains why the reserves and National Guard are still meeting their enlistment, and re-enlistment goals. The four percent of troops who are getting called up again and again may not be inclined to re-enlist, but the vast majority have no problem with staying in uniform.

Meanwhile, the army is training more people to work those jobs that are in big demand (especially military police and civil affairs) and see to it that fewer troops are called up again and again. The army is also working out a deal with Congress to temporarily increase strength by 30,000 troops. There is a movement in Congress to permanently increase army strength by 30,000. But the army doesn't want that, because they know that Congress will not increase their budget permanently to pay for the extra troops, which will mean the army will have to cut training and the purchase of new equipment. The army is trying to convince Congress that this will just get soldiers killed in the future. As a compromise, the army wants to just raise it's personnel strength for a few years, until the Iraq operation has died down. The army is already 17,000 over it's authorized strength because of stop loss (preventing troops from getting out because their service obligation is completed). The army can get another 13,000 troops by asking reserve and National Guards troops to volunteer for active duty (something that goes on at a low level all the time), and by letting more young people enlist (many qualified recruits are currently being turned away.)

 


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