Peace Time: July 28, 2003


The U.S. Army is already feeling the recruiting effects of the Iraq campaign, but only in its National Guard units. The active duty and reserve recruiters continue to meet their quotas this year. But many commanders of reserve troops know they are going to have recruiting and retention problems in the future if the part time soldiers continue to be mobilized as frequently as they have been in the past decade. The basic problem is one of economics and family life. Reservists (including National Guard troops) often make much less on their active duty army pay than they do on the civilian job. It's worse for National Guard units, as they often get called up for state emergencies (usually weather related, or some other disaster.) Many reservists are hanging on for patriotic reasons, but that can only last so long as problems at home mount. So the current plan being proposed is to only allow reservists to spend one year out of five on active duty (unless they volunteer, which many do.) Even active duty troops are affected by the increased tempo of operations. If you keep troops overseas in uncomfortable regions more than half the time, you begin to see declines in enlistments, and re-enlistments. While many troops join "for the action," too much of that is a turn off. Even the highly professional special operations troops are turned off by too much overseas and combat service. 


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