The coventional wisdom of naysayers takes a beating.
WASHINGTON, D.C. — One year ago, as President Bush decided to send more troops to Iraq, the conventional wisdom in Washington among opponents of the war was that the U.S. Army was on the verge of breaking.
In December 2006 former Secretary of State and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Colin Powell warned, “The active Army is about broken.”
Ret. Gen. Barry McCaffrey, in a much-cited memo to West Point colleagues, wrote: “My bottom line is that the Army is unraveling, and if we don’t expend significant national energy to reverse that trend, sometime in the next two years we will break the Army just like we did during Vietnam.”
Army Maj. Gen. Bob Scales, the former head of the Army War College, agreed. He wrote in an editorial in the Washington Times on March 30:
“If you haven’t heard the news, I’m afraid your Army is broken, a victim of too many missions for too few Soldiers for too long. … Today, anecdotal evidence of collapse is all around.”
Blah….blah….blah….the Army’s ‘broke and demoralized’….blah…blah…blah…
But now, one year later, Scales has done an about-face. He says that he was wrong. Despite all the predictions of imminent collapse, the U.S. Army and the combat brigades have proven to be surprisingly resilient.
According to Army statistics obtained exclusively by FOX News, 70 percent of soldiers eligible to re-enlist in 2006 did so — a re-enlistment rate higher than before Sept. 11, 2001. For the past 10 years, the enlisted retention rates of the Army have exceeded 100 percent. As of last Nov. 13, Army re-enlistment was 137 percent of its stated goal.
Scales, a FOX News contributor, said he based his assessment last year “on the statistics that showed a high attrition among enlisted Soldiers, officers who were leaving the service early, and a decline in the quality of enlistments,” a reference to the rising number of waivers given for “moral defects” such as drug use and lowered educational requirements.
“In fact, what we’ve seen over the last year is that the Army retention rates are pretty high, that re-enlistments, for instance, particularly re-enlistments in Iraq and Afghanistan, remain very high,” Scales said. He noted that re-enlistments were high even among troops who have served multiple tours.
A year ago, some military experts were comparing the Army of 2007 with the Army of a generation ago, at the end of the Vietnam War, when it was considered “broken” due to morale problems and an exodus of the “best and the brightest” Soldiers from service.
Scales said he didn’t take into account that, unlike Vietnam, this Army is sending Soldiers to fight as a unit — not as individuals. He also neglected the “Band of Brothers” phenomenon — the feeling of responsibility to fellow soldiers that prompts members of service to re-enlist.
No shit, Scales. It’s called comraderie. “Can do”. “Duty, Honor, Country”. “HOOAH”!
Where in the hell have you been, General? Nice of you to do some research.
“The Soldiers go back to the theater of war as units,” Scales said. “They are bonded together, they know each other, they don’t have to fight as an Army of strangers.
“I was wrong a year ago when I forecast the imminent collapse of the Army. I relied a little bit too much on the data and not enough on the intangibles.”
No, you relied a little too much on MSM propaganda and not enough on the Soldiers who could have set you straight a fucking year ago.
Not all the military analysts who made similar predictions last year agree. Lawrence Korb, who worked on personnel issues during the Reagan administration, testified to Congress last July: “As Gen. Barry McCaffrey pointed out when we testified together before the Senate Armed Services Committee in April, ‘the ground combat capability of the U.S. armed forces is shot.'”
Really? For a depleted force that’s “shot”, it’s sure beating the hell out of the enemy.
Korb, a resident scholar at the left-leaning Center for American Progress, told FOX News the Army is worse off than it was a year ago. He suggested that the Army is not being honest with its re-enlistment and retention numbers, an accusation echoed by House Armed Services Committee Chairman Ike Skelton, D-Mo.
Some background on the Center for American Progress:
Leftist think tank run by Hillary Clinton and former Clinton chief of staff John Podesta
Helped launch Media Matters for America
……Robert Dreyfuss reports in the March 1, 2004 edition of The Nation: “The idea for the Center began with discussions in 2002 between [Morton] Halperin and George Soros, the billionaire investor. … Halperin, who heads the office of Soros’ Open Society Institute, brought [former Clinton chief of staff John] Podesta into the discussion, and beginning in late 2002 Halperin and Podesta circulated a series of papers to funders.”
Soros and Halperin recruited Harold Ickes — chief fundraiser and former deputy chief of staff for the Clinton White House — to help organize the Center. It was launched on July 7, 2003 as the American Majority Institute. The name was changed to Center for American Progress (CAP) on September 1, 2003. The official purpose of the Center was to provide the left with something it supposedly lacked — a think tank of its own.
Let’s see…left-leaning, anti-war, anti-military, pro-terrorist, Soros’ sock-puppet organization, accusing the Army of ‘dishonesty’.
Along with Korb, Ike Skelton could use a little field research, too.
Most of these statistical mavens are real smart on number s.w.a.g.s and real deficient on tangibles. I’m willing to bet that Skelton and Korb have never popped in on troops in Iraq, Afghanistan, or hell, anywhere in the continental U.S.
……an internal Army document prepared at the request of Army Chief of Staff Gen. George Casey and obtained by FOX News suggests that the comparison to the “hollow Army” of 1972 near the end of the Vietnam War is inappropriate.
The main reason: Today’s Army is an all-volunteer force, and the Army in Vietnam largely was composed of draftees.
The key difference between now and Vietnam, Scales explains, is: “this idea that Soldiers fight as part of a team. It’s the ‘Band of Brothers’ approach to combat that makes armies effective in wartime, and the Army has been wise enough over the past five years to work very hard to keep Soldiers together in units and not to treat soldiers as sort of replacement parts, but to keep them together as cohesive units. … I believe, is the glue that has really served to hold this Army together.”
Link to story: http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,339296,00.html
Link to statistics: http://www.foxnews.com/projects/pdf/US_Army_statistics.pdf
Bingo, Scales. It’s the Patton theory:
“An Army is a team. It lives, eats, sleeps and fights as a team.”
From the Revolutionary War to the present, the United States Army has shouldered most of the burden in every conflict with dedication, toughness, and immeasurable courage.
The bulk of the combat in Iraq and Afghanistan, the number and frequency of deployments, as well as the surge and its success, again, borne by the Army.
In the last seven years the United States Army has done an incredible job with less Soldiers and fewer casulaties than any military in a major war.
It’s a damned tough job, but somebody’s gotta do it.
Welcome back to the team, General Scales.