Some key quotes:
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.
“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.
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.
“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.”
But 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.
Captain losses have remained steady at about 11 percent since 1990, and the loss of majors has been unchanged at about 6 percent.
“To date, the data do not show heightened levels of junior officer departures that can be tied directly to multiple rotations in Afghanistan or Iraq,” the internal Army memo concludes.
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.”
This is what people have been noting all along: The soldiers believe in the mission. Interviews with individuals have confirmed this over and over. Has the reenlistment money gone way up? Of course. One, it’s called capitalism, and you give people incentives to stay. Two, the military budget was slashed to near post-Vietnam levels on President Clinton’s watch. It’s sort of like the Gorebal Whoremongering issue. When your baseline you start from is so low, any rise seems dramatic. In one case, your baseline is a small budget, compared to a wartime budget. In the other, you’re comparing a rise while exiting the Little Ice Age.
This is good news, confirming what military supporters and military families already knew.