Why Isn’t the Army Broken?
Phil Carter, like a lot of other knowledgeable observers, has been predicting that the strain of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan would break the Army. It hasn’t. He reflects on this and offers several plausible reasons: the military service ethic, the fact that most soldiers signed up post-9/11 and knew what they were getting into, that turnover is built into the system, and so forth.
Being a few years older, I was wrong on this much earlier than Phil. Throughout the 1990s, I predicted that the constant deployment of Reserve soldiers to peacekeeping operations in places like Somalia, Bosnia, Kosovo, and Haiti would kill the Reserves. No way would people who signed up for “two weekends a month and two weeks during the summer” put up with that high an OPSTEMPO, not when there wasn’t a real war against a real enemy.
Ultimately, though, soldiers like to soldier. We’ve seen time and again that units that deploy to hazardous duty zones have higher rates of re-enlistment than those which don’t. This is true for both Active and Reserve Component units.
A lot of people get out of the Army as soon as they can after the hardships of combat duty. But they’re not the people we wanted manning our senior NCO and officer corps, anyway.
Photo: U.S. Army Spc. Jason Curtis provides security for members of a medical civil action project in Parun, Afghanistan, on June 28, 2007. Curtis is assigned to Charlie Company, 1st Battalion, 151st Infantry Regiment. DoD photo by Sgt. Brandon Aird, U.S. Army. (DefenseLink)