Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Hemorrhaging Officers

Posted by --Blue Girl at 4/11/2007 07:40:00 PM

The retention of academy-trained officers in the ranks of the military after their five-year commitment is realized is at its lowest point in thirty years.

This does not only bode ill for the troops in the field today - don’t get me wrong – leaders are needed today – but it bodes ill for the future as well.

The Lieutenants and Captains of today are the full Colonels and Generals of tomorrow. If the “wrong” officers stay in and the “right” ones opt to leave the service (most people do not put themselves through the rigors of an academy education with an eye to leaving service in five years) the long-term effects on the overall health of the officer corps will be devastating.

According to statistics compiled by West Point, of the 903 Army officers commissioned upon graduation in 2001, nearly 46 percent left the service last year -- 35 percent at the conclusion of their five years of required service, and another 11 percent over the next six months. And more than 54 percent of the 935 graduates in the class of 2000 had left active duty by this January, the statistics show.

The figures mark the lowest retention rate of graduates after the completion of their mandatory duty since at least 1977, with the exception of members of three classes in the late 1980s who were encouraged to leave as the military downsized following the end of the Cold War.

In most years during the last three decades, the period for which West Point released statistics, the numbers of graduates opting out at the five-year mark were between 10 percent and 30 percent, according to the data.

I can’t reiterate this enough…We are taking more and more wavered troops into the ranks, and the leadership is lacking. Seasoned officers are leaving service at a rate not seen since Vietnam, when fully half of the West Point class of 1969 resigned practically en masse. The reason then was Vietnam, and the reason today is Iraq.

But the Iraq War itself, with its repeated tours of duty and often-shifting military objectives, appears to have dissuaded more graduates than in recent history from continuing their military careers -- even as the Army has stressed that West Point training has become more important in an era of high-tech warfare.

West Point spokesman Francis J. DeMaro said he could not explain why more young officers were opting to leave the Army, and declined to comment further.


When unjust wars are launched, and the Honor Code is compromised – and trust me, it is as compromised right now as it has ever been in the history of the United States military – when the officer corps loses faith in the top brass – the whole delicate balance teeters on the brink.

The Honor Code is all that stands between a military and tyranny over the citizenry. It is really that simple, and there really is that much at stake.