SELLING ICE TO ESKIMOS

Army Times/AP reports:

At a checkpoint on the barren plain east of Baqouba, word of a new Army plan to pay soldiers up to $10,000 to re-enlist evoked laughter from a few bored-looking troopers.

“Man, they can’t pay me enough to stay here,” said a 23-year-old specialist from the Army’s 4th Infantry Division as he manned the checkpoint with Iraqi police outside this city 35 miles northeast of Baghdad.

His comments reflect a sentiment not uncommon among the nearly two dozen soldiers in Iraq who have spoken with The Associated Press since the Army announced the increased re-enlistment bonuses for soldiers in Iraq, Afghanistan and Kuwait on Monday. Other soldiers at home were divided about the offer.

The soldiers in Iraq who spoke about the bonuses were serving in a range of assignments, from training the new Iraqi army at a base east of Baqouba to patrolling some of the most dangerous roads in the country, like those leading north from Baghdad.

Some cited the monotonous routine of a lonely life spent thousands of miles from loved ones. Others offered simpler reasons – such as the fear of an early death.

Griping about Army life is a tradition among soldiers, and it is unclear how many will actually opt out to take their chances in a civilian economy where jobs are scarce.

However, Staff Sgt. Julian Guerrero, 38, who runs a re-enlistment program for a battalion in the 4th ID based in Tikrit, said only 10 of the battalion’s 80 eligible soldiers have taken the deal so far.

Hardly a surprise.

Update (2354): Donald Sensing linked this post earlier this evening and was in turn e-mailed by Joe Carter, who looked into the story in greater detail and found significant bias.

I should know better than to jump on these stories. Reporters love to take a few bits of anecdotal evidence–often that which supports their preconceived notions–and then manufacture a story that makes it seem like a trend is afoot.

FILED UNDER: Military Affairs
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.