Thursday, June 28, 2007

Cap'n Crunch

It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.
-- William Ernest Henley, Invictus

From your Chicago Tribune:
Stunned by the continuing loss of its captains -- the critical, mid-career officers who command companies, the basic combat organizations -- the Army has asked Defense Secretary Robert Gates for permission to begin offering $20,000 cash to captains willing to stick it out another three years. If that doesn't appeal, the Army would give them free graduate school -- or find them a slot at the ever-popular Ranger or Jump schools.

The Army needs about 30,000 captains. Today it musters 23,554, about 1,000 fewer than a year ago. The Army will need even more captains as it adds 65,000 more troops over the next five years.

Retaining captains has always been a problem for the Army, but the Iraq war has made the problem worse. Many captains find, after commanding platoons and companies for one or two combat tours, that the thrill is gone and the price of staying in uniform too high. And there is rising anger among today's captains, with many faulting the Army's brass for mismanaging the war.
And the Trib tells us that we should not expect the cap-gap to be filled with black Americans:
The number of blacks joining the military has plunged by more than one-third since the Afghanistan and Iraq wars began. Other job prospects are improving, and more relatives of potential recruits are discouraging them from joining the armed services.

According to data obtained by The Associated Press, the decline covers all four military services for active duty recruits. The drop is even more dramatic when National Guard and Reserve recruiting is included. ***

According to Pentagon data, there were nearly 51,500 new black recruits for active duty and reserves in 2001. That number fell to less than 32,000 in 2006, a 38 percent decline.

When only active duty troops are counted, the number of black recruits went from more than 31,000 in 2002 to about 23,600 in 2006, an almost 25 percent drop.

The decline is particularly stark for the Army. Blacks represented about 23 percent of the active Army's enlisted recruits in 2000, but 12.4 percent in 2006.
It's been said before but it bears repeating: The Bush Administration is abusing our troops and decimating our Army.

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