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Worse than we thought

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Well-known member
Jul 4, 2005
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I've been saying for months that the Bush Bunch was destroying our Army. Steve has been trying to refute that fact. But it's worse than even I had thought.
Complete article; link below; my emphasis.

"“The military is falling far behind in its effort to recruit and re-enlist soldiers for some of the most vital combat positions in Iraq and Afghanistan, according to a new government report.The report, completed by the Government Accountability Office, shows that the Army, National Guard and Marines signed up as few as a third of the Special Forces soldiers, intelligence specialists and translators that they had aimed for over the last year.
Both the Army and the Marines, for instance, fell short of their goals for hiring roadside bomb defusers by about 20 percent in each of the last two years. The Army Reserve, meanwhile, failed to fill about a third of its more than 1,500 intelligence analysts jobs. And in the National Guard, there have been consistent shortages filling positions involving tanks, field artillery and intelligence.
The report found that, in all, the military, which is engaged in the most demanding wartime recruitment effort since the 1970's, had failed to fully staff 41 percent of its array of combat and noncombat specialties.
Officials with the accountability office, the independent investigative arm of Congress, found that some of the critical shortfalls had been masked by the overfilling of other positions in an effort to reach overall recruiting goals. As a result, the G.A.O. report questioned whether Congress had been given an accurate picture by the Pentagon of the military's ability to maintain the force it needs for Iraq and Afghanistan.
"The aggregate recruiting numbers are rather meaningless," said Derek B. Stewart, the G.A.O.'s director of military personnel. "For Congress and this nation to truly understand what's happening with the all-volunteer force and its ability to recruit and retain highly qualified people, you have to drill down into occupational specialties. And when you do, it's very revealing."
David S. C. Chu, the under secretary of defense for personnel and readiness, denied that the military lacked what it needed to complete the mission in Iraq and Afghanistan. He said the report failed to appreciate how the Defense Department handled its recruiting efforts, and had "failed to take into account the dynamic nature of the problem we're trying to solve."
"This report tries to cast that pall on what's going on, but it's misread the fundamental mechanics of how the department actually manages personnel," Dr. Chu said. He said the targets the G.A.O. used to calculate shortfalls were annual guideposts for staffing levels, which could be adjusted according to circumstance. "The report assumes that all positions will always be filled," he said. "That's not in fact the strategy."
Some military experts also said the gaps would be dangerous only if they continued. Michael O'Hanlon, a military analyst at the Brookings Institution, said the problems posed by the shortfalls would be eased if the military began to reduce its deployment in Iraq.
"We are taking a gamble here that the Iraq mission can be wound down before the cumulative problems become really serious," Mr. O'Hanlon said.
The specific number of jobs the military can fill is in fact authorized each year by Congress, which defines the military's personnel budget on the basis of what the Pentagon says it needs. James R. Hosek, a military personnel analyst at the RAND Corporation, said the military had become more willing to disregard specific titles and use soldiers, sailors, marines and airmen for a variety of tasks that might not be directly related to their job descriptions.
The report showed that Congress needs to monitor these shifts better and ensure that the military is effective and efficient, Mr. Hosek said.
The report found signs of wasted spending. In many cases the military offered enlistment bonuses to people who signed up for jobs that were already overfilled. An Army recruiter in New York, who insisted on anonymity because he had not been authorized to speak to the news media, said it was not uncommon for noncombat positions to be opened up at the end of a tough recruiting month even the Army did not need more people to do the job.
As a result, the report found that shortfalls in many occupations were more severe than overall recruiting totals. The active-duty Army missed its target of 80,000 soldiers by 8 percent last year, but fell short of its goal for human intelligence experts by 35 percent.
The Marine Corps, which reached its recruitment goal last year after missing a few monthly quotas, struggled to fill several positions. It hired only about three out of every four linguists for the Middle East and Asia that it said it needed for last year.
Even the Navy and Air Force, which met their annual targets for overall recruitment last year, could not find enough qualified people for several combat and intelligence positions, according to the report.
The war, several military experts said, has scared many young people away from dangerous work.
"Prospective recruits, when they think about rewards and sacrifices of military service, realize that some positions are simply a lot more dangerous than others," said Mr. Hosek, the personnel expert at RAND.
There are nonetheless some bright spots for the military in the G.A.O. analysis. Dr. Chu said there had been growth in the Special Forces ranks, thanks in part to a new bonus of $150,000 for those who qualify. He said bonuses were also part of the reason some jobs were overfilled.But some military experts doubt that these small triumphs will be enough to keep the ranks - and the right jobs - filled at a time of war.
"I'm not convinced that we can cap the problem," Mr. O'Hanlon said. "I think there's a strong possibility the situation could worsen."


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