Friday, October 12, 2007

Two Related Stories Indicating the Trouble in Our Armed Services

These stories are related:

Six-Figure Bonuses Retain US Commandos
Associated Press Writer
October 12, 2007

WASHINGTON - The Pentagon has paid more than $100 million in bonuses to veteran Green Berets and Navy SEALs, reversing the flow of top commandos to the corporate world where security companies such as Blackwater USA are offering big salaries.

The retention effort, started nearly three years ago and overseen by U.S. Special Operations Command in Tampa, Fla., has helped preserve a small but elite group of enlisted troops with vast experience fighting the unconventional wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, according to Defense Department statistics.

Overall, more than 1,200 of the military's most specialized personnel near or already eligible for retirement have opted for payments of up to $150,000 in return for staying in uniform several more years.

The numbers gathered by The Associated Press and other Pentagon research indicate there has not been an extended exodus of commandos to private security companies and other businesses that value their talents.

"Back in 2005, we saw quite a few exits," said Rear Adm. Michael LeFever, director of the Navy's military personnel plans and policy division. "What we're seeing lately is just the opposite. We've become very aggressive."

Defense Secretary Robert Gates remains so concerned over the lure of high salaries in the private sector that he has directed Pentagon lawyers to explore putting no-compete clauses into contracts with security companies that would limit their recruiting abilities

Rest of story here.

Story #2

U.S. Army lowers its recruiting standards
More recruits have criminal records, no high school diploma
By Aamer Madhani
Washington Bureau
October 11, 2007

WASHINGTON - The U.S. Army met its recruiting goals for the last year but enlisted thousands of new soldiers with criminal records and fewer who have earned high school diplomas, according to figures released Wednesday.

The spike of new enlistees given "character" waivers for fiscal 2007 continues a steady upward trend in the number of recruits with past arrests and convictions allowed into the Army since the start of the war in Iraq.

More than 11 percent of the Army recruits needed waivers for problems with the law -- up from 7.9 percent the previous year and more than double the percentage in 2003, the year the U.S. invaded Iraq. Maj. Gen. Thomas Bostick, commander of the U.S. Army Recruiting Command, stressed that a vast majority, about 87 percent, of those allowed in with waivers had misdemeanors for such offenses as joy riding or violating curfew. Most faced little punishment beyond community service for their actions, Bostick said.

But at the same time, the number of enlistees with felony convictions and arrests in their pasts has increased. In 2003, the Army allowed 459 enlistees with felony arrests and convictions into the service compared to 1,620 this past year. The startling figures come at a time when the Army is trying to grow amid persistent questions about how the armed forces can increase force size during a time of war without significantly lowering the quality of recruits.

Rest of this story here.

I've been writing for some time that the only way that our Armed Forces have been able to keep up their troop levels have been by the following:

1. Lowering standards and allowing Urban Terrorists (Gangbangers) to join
2. Lowering standards and allowing Rural Terrorists (White Supremacists) to join
3. Lowering standards and allowing straight up criminals to join
4. Huge signing bonuses

Without these five things, do you realize in how poor shape our Armed Services would be today?

While the number of lives lost in this war, closing in on FOUR THOUSAND, is horrible, a number you shouldn't forget is the TENS OF THOUSANDS of men and women who have been maimed by this war to the point that they will not be able to return to service. Not only are they not going to be able to serve again, but we simply don't have the facilities in our pared down VA System to handle them - that's what happened at Walter Reed (among other incompetence). The VA System was not designed, in its present state, to handle such numbers of these life altering injuries that take extreme recuperation and rehabilitation times.

This war is a travesty, and it is destroying so much in this country. Before it's said and done, it might have a permanent negative effect on the Armed Services itself, which should concern anyone who says that love their country and want it to have a strong defense.

I believe that that there actually IS a War on Terror. I just don't think we're fighting it, and we are leaving ourselves vulnerable to when something serious DOES happen.

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