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Iraq; who’s going next: Part Two

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By Mel Fleming

By Mel Fleming

Our all-volunteer Army, currently scattered around the globe, is heavily engaged in Iraq and, to a lesser extent, in Afghanistan.

War with North Korea and/or Iran conceivably could explode on short notice. United States Army Recruiting Command (USAREC) and the Department of the Army.

The United States Army, still the world’s best measured by any yardstick, is too small to meet immediate needs. Army Reserve and Army National Guard units, which take up the slack, experience serious strains, and back-to-back unit rotations from home stations to Iraq or Afghanistan are commonplace. The draft, which could fill gaps, remains politically unsupportable.

Army officials, as a direct result, in 2005, announced a recruiting crisis. Basic training centers presently operate at less than half capacity.

The need for 30,000 new troops to fill 10 new Army brigades creates a challenge “of historic proportions,” according to USAREC’s current commander, Maj. Gen. Michael Rochelle. A Training and Doctrine Command (TRADOC) spokesman flatly stated that “a massive influx” of recruits is essential this summer.

Desperate measures to maintain sufficient troops began in September 2002, when the Army announced unpopular stop-loss policies that retain reluctant soldiers in uniform at least until 2006, whether they like it or not. A Federal Appeals Court in San Francisco, Calif., in 2005, denied petitions to scrap involuntary retention. Recurrent reliance on reservists puts their civilian jobs in jeopardy and severely strains family relationships.

Orders recently recalled 5,600 members of the Individual Ready Reserve who previously completed specified periods of active duty but remained vulnerable because their contracts had not expired.

Approximately 100,000 artillerymen, air defenders and others in low demand for counterinsurgency missions are being retrained as infantry, military police, intelligence analysts and civil affairs specialists.

Some marginal performers, who until recently would have been discharged without regret, may soon stay in uniform. Revised rules permit United States Army Recruiting Command headhunters to sign increased numbers of high school dropouts, while reserve components welcome 40-year-olds.

Army leaders may soon ask Congress to double bonuses for prized recruits from $20,000 to a whopping $40,000. According to the Los Angeles Times, more than 20,000 military personnel, who are foreign nationals, have become citizens, 75 of them posthumously. Officials estimate that more than 40,000 military personnel from other countries, remain eligible for citizenship.

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