Blue to Green Moving Slowly
The Army’s plan to turn downsized squids and zoomies into soldiers is off to a slow start.
Military: Blues, But Not Green (Newsweek, May 16)
In case anyone still doesn’t understand that recruiting is now the toughest job in the Army, the service missed its April goal by 42 percent. It was the third month in a row that the active-duty recruiting mission was not accomplished. Worse, the Pentagon was counting on absorbing a decent share of some 27,000 service members that the Air Force and Navy are letting go this year as part of Defense Secretary Don Rumsfeld’s grand realignment plan.
Operation Blue to GreenÃ¢€”trading blue service uniforms for Army greenÃ¢€”this year was expected to turn 3,500 airmen and sailors into soldiers and help the military adjust to quick-deployment, land-based warfare.
More than halfway into the fiscal year (which ends Sept. 30), Blue to Green has produced 189 soldiers, according to the Army. “We started out slow but we’re picking up,” says Lt. Col. Jim Larsen, who oversees the program at Fort Knox, Ky. An additional 213 curious blues are filling out forms for the program, a 29-day course (half as long as basic training) that covers subjects ranging from weapons skills to the latest checkpoint strategies.
Sgt. Christopher Sayre, a former airman who recently went green, has met some resistance when he tries to lure old Air Force buddies. It’s not so much the bonus money or old service rivalries. “Their concern is what they see going on over there [in Iraq] on TV,” says Sayre, 29. “The Air Force isn’t used to deploying as much, so they’re more nervous.”
Not terribly surprising, really. If these people had wanted the arduous existence of a groundpounder, they’d have joined the Army or Marine Corps to begin with. The only ones likely to make the transition are those in the service support components. But even those people would live a much less cushy lifestyle in the Army than they had in the Navy or Air Force.