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As Army shrinks, young officers being pushed out
« on: April 21, 2014, 03:41:59 PM »
http://hosted.ap.org/dynamic/stories/U/US_FORCING_SOLDIERS_OUT?SITE=MYPSP&SECTION=HOME&TEMPLATE=DEFAULT&CTIME=2014-04-21-14-46-28


Apr 21, 2:46 PM EDT

As Army shrinks, young officers being pushed out

By LOLITA C. BALDOR
Associated Press

 FORT BRAGG, N.C. (AP) -- After the 9/11 attacks, tens of thousands of young men and women joined the military, heading for the rugged mountains of Afghanistan and dusty deserts of Iraq.

Many of them now are officers in the Army with multiple combat deployments under their belts. But as the wars wind down and Pentagon budgets shrink, a lot of them are being told they have to leave.

It's painful and frustrating. In quiet conversations at Fort Bragg in North Carolina and Fort Eustis in Virginia, captains talk about their new worries after 15-month deployments in which they battled insurgents and saw roadside bombs kill and maim their comrades. They nervously wait as their fates rest in the hands of evaluation boards that may spend only a few minutes reading through service records before making decisions that could end careers.

During the peak war years, the Army grew to about 570,000, as commanders worked to fill combat brigades and support units to fight in Iraq and Afghanistan. Thousands of newly minted officers came in during 2006-2008.

Already down to about 522,000, the Army must shrink to 490,000 by October 2015, and then to 450,000 two years later. If automatic budget cuts resume, the Army will have to get down to 420,000 - a size service leaders say may not allow them to wage even one major, prolonged military campaign.

While a lot of the reduction can come from voluntary retirements, resignations and decreased enlistments, Army commanders will have to force as many as 3,000 officers - nearly 10 percent of the planned decrease - to leave by the end of October 2015. Of those, nearly 1,500 are captains, 550 are majors.

Behind some of those big numbers are soldiers in their late 20s who will be forced out of their military careers long before retirement age and into the still struggling American job market. They would leave with honorable discharges, but without 20 years in the service they would not be eligible for retirement benefits.

"The captains are a problem," Gen. Ray Odierno, the Army chief of staff, said in a recent interview with The Associated Press. "Because when we increased the size of the Army we recruited heavily in certain year groups. So as we draw the Army down, those are over strength."

The military has been through this before. In the years after Vietnam and during the 1990s as the Cold War thawed, the Pentagon pushed thousands of service members out the door, creating what some felt was a hollow military that lacked the soldiers, training and equipment needed to fight and win.

This time, Army leaders argue they're trying to do it right. They're not asking for volunteers, because too many good people leave. So they are combing through files, looking for soldiers with disciplinary or other problems in their annual evaluations - known as efficiency reports - to weed out lower-performing officers.

Col. Trevor Bredenkamp, commander of the 82nd Airborne Division's 1st Brigade Combat Team, said he talked to all of his majors who were in that group, and he had his battalion commanders talk to their captains.

"The challenge is there are about 8 percent that they will have to select that don't have any derogatory information in their file. So there will be some people that will say I don't know why I was selected," Bredenkamp said. "I'm telling people, hey, they're going to decide who they decide on, and if you've been working hard and doing a good job, by and large, the majority of you don't have to worry about it."

Capt. Fred Janoe, a battery commander with the 18th Fires Brigade at Fort Bragg, said the process may create a short-term decline in morale but will be positive in the long term.

"You keep your best performers and as an organization you're able to do more with less," Janoe said.

Sometimes, he said, "you see guys who just barely get by. I don't wish for anything bad to happen to them." But he added, "I grew up on a cattle ranch, and sometimes you cull the herd a little bit."

Other captains did not publicly discuss their concerns about impending separation. But there are broad concerns that when the young officers were serving in Iraq and Afghanistan during the peak war years, the attention paid to their evaluations may have slipped a bit and many of them got largely the same positive ratings. Some worry that a less than stellar relationship with one senior officer may doom their relatively short careers, while others say many lower performers got high marks while deployed, skewing the system.

Some officers have even found themselves in the odd position of being up for a promotion at the same time as they are being considered for separation, with both evaluation boards going on at about the same time.

Odierno said he recognizes the concerns and the Army is trying to go through the process carefully once it gets to the officers who don't have problems in their files.

"We're doing that a bit slower. I want to make sure that they have enough years where we can do a proper evaluation," he said. "We want to keep the best. We want it to be very competitive."

Once chosen for departure, the young officers will have two months to leave.

"We have an obligation to help them land softly on the outside of the Army," said Bredenkamp..

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Re: As Army shrinks, young officers being pushed out
« Reply #1 on: April 21, 2014, 05:00:58 PM »
Stupid as bleep.

This ain't your grandads world, and ain't his war.

Get rid of the top heavy brass and promote guys who know how to fight this war front, back and sideways.
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Re: As Army shrinks, young officers being pushed out
« Reply #2 on: April 21, 2014, 05:35:46 PM »
My son is one of those young officers leaving.  Two years ago, I told him I think he should stay in.  I would never suggest that today.
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Re: As Army shrinks, young officers being pushed out
« Reply #3 on: April 21, 2014, 05:57:16 PM »
The Air Force has been holding special boards for Captains and Majors to try and figure out how many can stay and how many will be shown the door.  The Navy is right behind them, and has been cutting back flying hours dramatically, along with carrier deployments and workup periods.

This has been going on across the board since our withdrawal from Iraq.  These guys are coming home to summary dismissal and unemployment.

And at the same time this Administration pays lip service about military suicides....

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Offline MACVSOG68

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Re: As Army shrinks, young officers being pushed out
« Reply #4 on: April 21, 2014, 07:33:34 PM »
"Once chosen for departure, the young officers will have two months to leave."

Happens after every military buildup, and has been an issue for many wars. After Vietnam, captains (O-3) were the target.  Higher grades generally have enough years in to make it to 20.  But even for the RIFs (reduction in force), officers used to be able to take an enlisted grade (E-6 or above) until retirement age.  Not sure about now.  Also it used to be 90 days, not 60 like now.  Bad, but what other choice do the services have?
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Re: As Army shrinks, young officers being pushed out
« Reply #5 on: April 21, 2014, 08:24:25 PM »
"Once chosen for departure, the young officers will have two months to leave."

Happens after every military buildup, and has been an issue for many wars. After Vietnam, captains (O-3) were the target.  Higher grades generally have enough years in to make it to 20.  But even for the RIFs (reduction in force), officers used to be able to take an enlisted grade (E-6 or above) until retirement age.  Not sure about now.  Also it used to be 90 days, not 60 like now.  Bad, but what other choice do the services have?
During Vietnam I served in a battalion with an Executive Officer (XO) Major, who held "permanent" rank of an E8 (First Sergeant) I recall.

Offline PzLdr

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Re: As Army shrinks, young officers being pushed out
« Reply #6 on: April 22, 2014, 09:26:33 AM »
When I got RIF'ed in '71 [I was an O3], I asked about enlisting. Told it was a no go.
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Re: As Army shrinks, young officers being pushed out
« Reply #7 on: April 22, 2014, 09:47:24 AM »
I don't understand why they need to push people out. Soldier pay is a pretty negligible amount of military spending when compared to the overproduction of tanks and other things that we don't need more of but continue to buy anyway. If you want to reduce the amount of soldiers we have you could just cut way back on signing new people up and let the military naturally slim down as people finish their contracts and leave. If you want to reduce spending you should probably have a talk with the military-industrial complex.
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Re: As Army shrinks, young officers being pushed out
« Reply #8 on: April 22, 2014, 10:02:07 AM »
Dex - you are completely correct. Manpower cost is negligible compared to over time, over budget gear that needs a serious beating with a hammer to work right.

I'd suggest the problem is more within the DoD than the military itself. Tis the down side of civilian oversight - they are civilians. Most of them have nicely framed degrees in management and accounting on their walls, and since the 80's the first port of call for any management grad has been "reduce headcount."
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Offline Dexter

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Re: As Army shrinks, young officers being pushed out
« Reply #9 on: April 22, 2014, 10:18:52 AM »
Most of them have nicely framed degrees in management and accounting on their walls, and since the 80's the first port of call for any management grad has been "reduce headcount."

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Re: As Army shrinks, young officers being pushed out
« Reply #10 on: April 22, 2014, 12:30:34 PM »
I don't understand why they need to push people out. Soldier pay is a pretty negligible amount of military spending when compared to the overproduction of tanks and other things that we don't need more of but continue to buy anyway. If you want to reduce the amount of soldiers we have you could just cut way back on signing new people up and let the military naturally slim down as people finish their contracts and leave. If you want to reduce spending you should probably have a talk with the military-industrial complex.

Don't know if it's still true, but back in the day, the percentage of officers to EM was fixed by law or reg/rule. During Viet Nam, we were working with an authorized overstrength [percentage of officers]. Once it started winding down [in terms of total Army numbers], the overstrength was cancelled. So a bunch of boards went through the OERs and chopped anybody who didn't make the cut. They would have RIFed me IN Viet Nam, but I'd been medevaced [skin disease], so the word didn't catch up with me until I was in the hospital stateside.
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Re: As Army shrinks, young officers being pushed out
« Reply #11 on: April 22, 2014, 01:31:21 PM »
Dex - you are completely correct. Manpower cost is negligible compared to over time, over budget gear that needs a serious beating with a hammer to work right.

I'd suggest the problem is more within the DoD than the military itself. Tis the down side of civilian oversight - they are civilians. Most of them have nicely framed degrees in management and accounting on their walls, and since the 80's the first port of call for any management grad has been "reduce headcount."

Cost per troop according to the Pentagon has increased from around $47k in 2001 to $90k today.  That of course includes pay and allowances which have risen quite a bit, other benefits, and medical costs.  I know the amount set aside for retired pay and Tricare for Life (future benefits) has risen also.  The Service Chiefs all had differing opinions of how much the personnel costs represented their total budgets, ranging from around 40% to 70%.

Operations and Maintenance have also climbed steadily.  Not sure how much relates to normal activities versus Afghanistan. 

But I do agree that other areas in the Defense budget warrant scrutiny, such as buildings, R&D, new equipment.  Anyone who has ever been to Davis-Monthan AFB outside of Tucson can see some of the aircraft in the boneyard.  The Air Force has purchased many aircraft over the years only to trash the entire line after little use.  Congress encourages such rash purchases, and of course Army, Air Force and Navy use different aircraft, something that has been criticized for years.

One of the initiatives that might help with coming reductions-in-force is the fact that a lot of Reserve and Guard units were used during build-ups, so as not to have to increase the active duty rosters by as much as they might have. 

Bottom line is that while we must maintain a strong and current military, if we are ever to get a handle on the budget process, defense spending is going to have to contribute.
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Re: As Army shrinks, young officers being pushed out
« Reply #12 on: April 22, 2014, 02:00:19 PM »
Cost per troop according to the Pentagon has increased from around $47k in 2001 to $90k today.  That of course includes pay and allowances which have risen quite a bit, other benefits, and medical costs.  I know the amount set aside for retired pay and Tricare for Life (future benefits) has risen also.  The Service Chiefs all had differing opinions of how much the personnel costs represented their total budgets, ranging from around 40% to 70%.

Operations and Maintenance have also climbed steadily.  Not sure how much relates to normal activities versus Afghanistan. 

But I do agree that other areas in the Defense budget warrant scrutiny, such as buildings, R&D, new equipment.  Anyone who has ever been to Davis-Monthan AFB outside of Tucson can see some of the aircraft in the boneyard.  The Air Force has purchased many aircraft over the years only to trash the entire line after little use.  Congress encourages such rash purchases, and of course Army, Air Force and Navy use different aircraft, something that has been criticized for years.

One of the initiatives that might help with coming reductions-in-force is the fact that a lot of Reserve and Guard units were used during build-ups, so as not to have to increase the active duty rosters by as much as they might have. 

Bottom line is that while we must maintain a strong and current military, if we are ever to get a handle on the budget process, defense spending is going to have to contribute.


Defense spending cuts may also be the best place for the fiscally minded to start showing what sort of cuts they have in mind, particularly with respect to entitlement cuts, because when judicious cuts fail to make the sky fall in, the wisdom of applying the same tools to general social entitlement spending (welfare, or the dole) should be more apparent.  And the spend-spend-spend crowd, mainly liberals, are very unlikely to oppose cuts to defense spending, certainly not the way they would oppose cuts to welfare entitlement spending right now.

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Re: As Army shrinks, young officers being pushed out
« Reply #13 on: April 22, 2014, 03:19:07 PM »

Defense spending cuts may also be the best place for the fiscally minded to start showing what sort of cuts they have in mind, particularly with respect to entitlement cuts, because when judicious cuts fail to make the sky fall in, the wisdom of applying the same tools to general social entitlement spending (welfare, or the dole) should be more apparent.  And the spend-spend-spend crowd, mainly liberals, are very unlikely to oppose cuts to defense spending, certainly not the way they would oppose cuts to welfare entitlement spending right now.

Very true.  And with more and more Americans (and others living here) getting benefits from Uncle Sugar, Defense will look more and more like the prime candidate.  Even Republicans who want to cut, cut, cut will start seeing which cuts are likely to reduce their popularity, meaning votes.
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Re: As Army shrinks, young officers being pushed out
« Reply #14 on: April 23, 2014, 11:54:13 AM »
Very true.  And with more and more Americans (and others living here) getting benefits from Uncle Sugar, Defense will look more and more like the prime candidate.  Even Republicans who want to cut, cut, cut will start seeing which cuts are likely to reduce their popularity, meaning votes.


I'm more thinking of it as being the one place where the fiscal prudes (i mean that in the nicest of ways, btw) can present the country with an object lesson in how reasonable cuts to entitlements do not leave people destitute and needy.

I'm not saying I'm pro-military cuts - I think this administration has gone too far and left the US in a dangerously vulnerable position in the medium and long(er) term - but that if the cuts are going to be made, the fiscal prudes should get out ahead of the curve and mine the silver lining in this huge cloud for whatever it's worth.

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Re: As Army shrinks, young officers being pushed out
« Reply #15 on: April 23, 2014, 12:21:19 PM »

I'm more thinking of it as being the one place where the fiscal prudes (i mean that in the nicest of ways, btw) can present the country with an object lesson in how reasonable cuts to entitlements do not leave people destitute and needy.

I'm not saying I'm pro-military cuts - I think this administration has gone too far and left the US in a dangerously vulnerable position in the medium and long(er) term - but that if the cuts are going to be made, the fiscal prudes should get out ahead of the curve and mine the silver lining in this huge cloud for whatever it's worth.

I completely disagree with the idea that the United States is somehow militarily vulnerable right now. We have the largest and most advanced military on the planet by an insanely large margin. There is plenty of excess and unnecessary spending that we could cut out and put to better use.
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Re: As Army shrinks, young officers being pushed out
« Reply #16 on: April 23, 2014, 12:25:16 PM »
I completely disagree with the idea that the United States is somehow militarily vulnerable right now. We have the largest and most advanced military on the planet by an insanely large margin. There is plenty of excess and unnecessary spending that we could cut out and put to better use.

i'm not saying that there aren't places where legitimate cuts could be made; i am saying that some of the cuts being made by the obama (mal)administration are foolhardy.  retiring all of the a-10 warthogs, for example, is a stupid thing to do.

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Re: As Army shrinks, young officers being pushed out
« Reply #17 on: April 23, 2014, 12:27:42 PM »
i'm not saying that there aren't places where legitimate cuts could be made; i am saying that some of the cuts being made by the obama (mal)administration are foolhardy.  retiring all of the a-10 warthogs, for example, is a stupid thing to do.

I think we should give the military an estimate of how much we would like to cut if possible, and have them tell us where and how they think the cuts could/should be made. I think solider pay and benefits should be completely off limits.
« Last Edit: April 23, 2014, 12:27:59 PM by Dex4974 »
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Re: As Army shrinks, young officers being pushed out
« Reply #18 on: April 23, 2014, 12:37:03 PM »
I think we should give the military an estimate of how much we would like to cut if possible, and have them tell us where and how they think the cuts could/should be made. I think solider pay and benefits should be completely off limits.

getting a proposal from the military leadership would be a good place to start, but cannot be the place to stop.  pay and benefits should be on the table as well, provided that they're given a sufficient degree of weight, particularly over proposed weapons systems that are still in the development pipeline.

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Re: As Army shrinks, young officers being pushed out
« Reply #19 on: April 23, 2014, 01:45:14 PM »
getting a proposal from the military leadership would be a good place to start, but cannot be the place to stop.  pay and benefits should be on the table as well, provided that they're given a sufficient degree of weight, particularly over proposed weapons systems that are still in the development pipeline.

I disagree (respectfully, Sir!)

Worked with US troops. We actually had a code in Afghanistan - it was dedicated to saying "The dumbasses have got lost again, can you go get them before they get hurt?" Teasing but fun.

American troops are by far the best equipped. No argument. The training leaves something to be desired - except in the case of SOF or Marines (give me a squad - we'll take on the jarheads and then sit and drink in the remains of the bar.)

But that decision came at a price. Cost/benefit - a high tech weapons system that works incredibly well - or a guy who can read a map and compass and hit what he aims at?

Fake edit- I hit post by accident.

The US military is tired. So are the people. Way too many flag draped coffins have headed home. Stand off gear makes sense.
« Last Edit: April 23, 2014, 01:48:03 PM by EC »
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