Will the aging and urbanization of America limit the size of our armed forces?

Cultural and demographic changes could make recruiting more difficult over the next generation or two, perhaps even limiting the size of our volunteer military forces.

Urbanization and cultural change

The US military recruits most effectively from a relatively small and shrinking fraction of the US population.  This has ominous implications for the future.  Just as our imperial ambitions might exceed our financial resources, they may also exceed our manpower — our ability to voluntarily recruit legions, able to fight foreign wars — a generation or two from now.

Army Recruiting and the Civil-Military Gap“, Matthew J. Morgan, Parameters (Summer 2001)

Despite the public confidence in the military institution, however, there appears to be a deficit of social capital to support the armed forces. One reason for this may be a declining civic participation among Americans generally. As Andrew Bacevich has written, “In a society in which half of the eligible voters did not even bother to show up at the polls in the [1996] presidential election, the notion of an obligation to participate in the country’s defense has become an anachronism, an oddity from another time.”  James Kitfield has referred to a “nearly unbridgeable cultural divide” between American society in general and the US military.

… Dramatic sociopolitical changes dating to the end of World War II (increased hedonism, greater personal expression, opposition to the military lifestyle, resistance to authority, and increased moral criticism), started the decline of mass armies in Western industrial nations, and over the past 30 years the process has become increasingly apparent. The end of conscription in most of the West is a response to these pressures. This offers an alternative explanation to the relevancy of the civil-military rift to recruiting: a decline in the acceptance of military authority, which is a factor frequently associated with youth attitudes against military service.

In addition to changes in attitudes toward authority, changing political beliefs also are affecting the military’s ability to attract new personnel. William Mayer’s work has shown that a strong case can be made that there has been a trend toward more liberal positions on most social values. American society may be more liberal and individualistic now than when Huntington’s theory of objective civilian control was first formulated in The Soldier and the State. This shift may have special significance for the civil-military gap, because while a plurality of civilian leaders are classified as liberals, only a small fraction of military officers are in that category.  A 1998-99 study of opinions across the armed services even found that military dislike for then-President Clinton was not a significant factor in these results. Even if the

“studies had ended with the survey in early 1992, when George Bush [senior] was in the White House and a Clinton presidency seemed a very improbable long shot . . . the primary trends described here would already have been in place.”

On a more fundamental level, basic assumptions and values are influencing the propensity for military service. William Bennett has documented a “palpable culture decline” and an actual shift in the public’s beliefs, attitudes, and priorities over the past decades. This shift in popular values might affect the civil-military gap and military recruiting. For instance, a growing affinity for free will and individual expression damages both the ability of citizens to understand the military culture and the likelihood that they would become a part of it. Research has shown that young Americans who expect to serve in the military place a lower priority on personal freedom than do their peers. As more and more Americans place a higher priority on personal freedom, fewer expect to find themselves in uniformed service.

Youth attitudes are shifting to take them further from the military perspective. Interviews with youths on the subject revealed several characterizations. “They don’t like to be told what to do.” “Most teenagers don’t want to commit to anything.” Teens “don’t like getting up early.”  Such attitudes don’t comport well with a military career.

… In addition to physical and intellectual separation, the modern force is not demographically representative of the population at large.  John Lehman argues that “we have created a separate military caste.”  He points out that while most American community leaders have had military experience, few of their children have.  Exacerbating the situation is the fact that cadets and midshipman who are children of career military parents are present in record numbers at the service academies.

There is significance in these trends. An insulated military has reduced visibility in the civilian population, and a relatively invisible military is going to engender little support and understanding for its budgetary and recruitment needs in a population that expects lower expenditures on the military in peacetime.

The aging of America

The combination of lower fertility rates (fewer women having children, women having fewer children) will probably make recruiting more difficult in the future.  There are many excellent reports examining this topic; here are links to a few of them.

  • Manning the American Military:  Demographics and National Security“, Martin Binkin, Negative Population Growth (May 1990)
  • Although written by an advocacy organization, the author makes a strong case that an aging America does not prevent America from fielding armed forces like those of WWII or the Cold War.

  • Report titled “The Demographic Obstaces to Military Recruitment:  Benchmarcks for Preserving the Numerical Strength of the Armed Forces”, Real Instituto Elcano (November 2003).  Note:  compulsory military service in Spain ended in 2001. 
  • The armed forces’ recruitment success rate ([number of new recruits]/[size of the recruitment niche]) has fallen from 2.5 ‰ of the recruitment niche between 1998 and 2000 to 1.6 ‰ in 2001 and 2002. This corresponds to a level of recruitment in the first three years of around 20 thousand people, compared with only 10 thousand in the recruitment campaigns carried out in 2001 and 2002.

    If we assume that the armed forces are at best capable of maintaining a recruitment success rate of 1.6 ‰ of their total recruitment niche in the coming years, the total number of new recruits would decrease for each year as a result of Spain’s negative demographic development. The yearly intake would approach 8.000 by 2010, compared with 10.690 in 2002. By 2020 the number would be down further to 7.500. If nothing drastic happens with the number of recruits leaving the armed forces each year, the result of these developments would be a very significant reduction in the numerical strength of the armed forces. 

    However, it seems unlikely that the proportion of people leaving the army should change in any dramatic way. While the recruitment success rate has been on the decline, the ratio of soldiers leaving the armed forces each year has increased from 7 % in 1998 to 15 % in 2001 and 2002. Thus, if the current recruitment success rate should stabilize at 1.6 ‰ and the current rate at which soldiers leave the armed forces stabilize at 15%, the numerical strength of the Spanish armed forces should be more or less programmed to decrease by 1.000 soldiers per year for the foreseeable future. That is, by 2010 the numerical strength of the armed forces would approach 62.000 men and by 2020 it would be merely 52.000 soldiers.

    Needless to say, a reduction of this importance could jeopardize the whole project of professionalizing the armed forces.

    I strongly recommend the following report, perhaps the best of any listed here.

  • Demographic Trends and Military Recruitment:  Surprising Possibilities“, George H. Quester, Parameters (Spring 2005) — I will not attempt to summarize this; it is essential reading for anyone interested in this topic.  He suggests several interesting ways to adapt our military to a changed demographic reality.
  • This article will attempt to project current demographic trends in the United States and abroad, along with several related determinants, a substantial distance into the future, so as to explore some possibly surprising implications for the recruitment of armed forces. The most important of these demographic factors will be the “graying” of the population, in America and all the advanced industrialized countries, as lower birthrates and longer life-spans project that a larger proportion of the total population will be above what was viewed, until recently, as the normal age for retirement.

    In many of the advanced countries, the total of younger people will actually decline as an absolute number. In the United States and in several other advanced countries, this total will not absolutely decrease, but it will certainly decline as a percentage of the overall population. Other important demographic trends will include the worldwide shift of population to urban areas, and the continued high birthrates in many underdeveloped countries, with a bias in some areas toward preventing the birth or survival of female children.

    Two magisterial studies of military recruiting by the National Academies (of Sciences)

    Valuable and comprehensive research, foundational to any solutions.

  • “Attitudes, Aptitudes, and Aspirations of American Youth: Implications for Military Recruitment”, Committee on the Youth Population and Military Recruitment, Editors: Paul Sackett and Anne Mavor, National Research Council of the National Academies (2003).  Here is the introduction and links to the full report.
    • “Evaluating Military Advertising and Recruiting: Theory and Methodology”, Committee on the Youth Population and Military Recruitment, Editors: Paul Sackett and Anne Mavor,  National Research Council of the National Academies (2004).  Here is the introduction and links to the full report.
    • Please share your comments by posting below (brief and relevant, please), or email me at fabmaximus at hotmail dot com (note the spam-protected spelling).

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      17 thoughts on “Will the aging and urbanization of America limit the size of our armed forces?”

      1. Fabius… should I play the Cato the Censor role? heh.

        Well Fabius Maximus, you are a generation older than I, but you might have noticed me slogging it out along with the other youngest citizens. I would have been the fellow Scipio and his pet hostage Greek Polybius, mocked for disapproving of the wealthier young Romans adopting Greek vices and manners. Oh… I forgot. You died around that time.

        Well, as you died before we beat Hannibal Maximus, I should fill you in a bit. Thanks to the grit and the determination of men like yourself (I admit I considered you a role model of sorts), the Republic was able to defeat Hannibal and Carthage. Scipio took the name Africanus for defeating Hannibal at Zuma (although he was a shadow of his old self by then, and without those Gaul or Celtic hoards to man his army). I left the force sent to North Africa before then (considering that protecting Rome and caring for my own farm more important), but was certainly determined that Scipio Africanus receive no Tribute for a campaign men like YOU made possible. You would never have imagined what those Greek perverts made of the highest caste of Roman youth! They’ve made the scions of Romes great families, GREEK! My hand to Zeus! They even PERFUME their BOTTOMS while commanding legions!

        Anyway. These perfumed bottomed, dandy young Roman commanders, the same that you and the other old Romans favored and called the Hope of Rome, allowed the ruling caste of Carthage to stay in place, and made a crazy CRAZY agreement on Rome’s behalf. (Obviously I think that Carthage should be destroyed).

        And this looks to be what will happen as a result, Fabius. Because the older and wiser men of your generation refuse to discipline their sons and daughters, and allow them to be reared as Greeks or Punics or Medes, especially the heirs to the oldest and most famous families of Rome… and because Rome herself faces no immediate great threat, save from various pirates and bandits and such… well, my generation of Romans has split into very very different camps. You are DEAD, Fabius Maximus, and however much I beg the men of your generation to heed your ideals, they refuse to listen and join in calling me Cato the Censor (the taxman, or the auditor in modern english). The men my age lack the authority to convince the older men of the need for restraint and moderation. Your peers, Fabius Maximus, honor your gravestone but not your counsel.

        So when the men you knew, Fabius, are begged by their indulged sons and daughters for luxury and toys and the services of useless servants and trifles, they give their spoiled children and grandchildren everything with no thought to the future! More and more young men of citizen rank beg off duty in the legions to loiter in the pleasure dens and (it’s rumored) orgy baths of Rome. Were your ghost able to attend the Senate, Fabius, your generation of Roman elders might remember themselves, but you’ve been silent. So while sterner Roman men must soldier OUTSIDE the Republic to police Carthage (which cheats and violates it’s restrictions) or along the BORDER of the Republic (which is flooded with beggars who would rather live as servants to lazy Romans than fight for citizenship)… the heirs of the families that USED to command the legions lay around speculating with wheat futures and wallowing in Greek vice and buying servants to work on their farms. Rome is FLOODED with merchants offing trinkets mass produced in factories full of slaves or servants, to the point where many in Rome believe ROME HERSELF cannot make due without these gew gaws! And while good Roman men are worn thin in the legions, replacements are always slow to come.

        Why? Because the elder Romans of your generation are too old to fight and REFUSE to force their spoiled children to follow the old traditions of service. The elders even have the nerve to count heads of returning legions and questions our numbers? What do the old Romans expect will replace our numbers if THEIR daughters refuse to wed, and practice infanticide, and run around like fools after Greek philosophers? Fabius Maximus, what do you suggest Cato the Censor do in excess of what I already AM doing? In perhaps fifty years, when I AM YOUR AGE, Rome will FINALLY LISTEN to me! But by then it is likely to be too late to reverse the trend.

        I have to tell you Fabius, I think MY OWN SLAVES, whom I eat and toil with myself, have reared their children to be superior to those of most of the Roman citizens who lay about in the baths. I am ashamed, but it is the truth. I look at my sons wrestling and fighting with my servants sons, and I know in my heart that I will free them all, because I think my servants children are the future of Rome. I had a dream of the last of my line, two hundred years from now, named Cato the Younger, opening his veins after a Roman civil war over the fate of the Republic. I have told my eldest son that he must make sure SOME of our family always migrates to lands as far away from the Capital Rome controls, even if this means never attending the Senate. For I hold that it is better to retain the virtue of the Republic under a new name, than to lose what is True and Good about it because the Capital comes to define what is Rome herself.

        Now one last prediction for you Fabius Maximus. I foresee a time when Roman citizens refuse to serve in the legions. There will be exceptions declared, and excuses made, but elders will follow YOUR generations elders example and allow this to occur. Men like my servants sons will, rightly I believe, be offered citizenship if they serve in the legions. And when Rome’s legions must fight further and further from Rome, or must patrol a frontier their whole lives while so-called “citizens” beg for bread in the Capital, OUR Rome will come to HATE the virtues that we now honor. Until finally the Senate becomes FRIGHTENED of it’s OWN legions! I know this is hard to imagine, Fabius, but already half of Rome’s citizens do not expect their young men to have to fight to defend their vote! I foresee the day when a man will serve his whole life in the legion and never see Rome, nor will the vast majority of Senators have ever, EVER even served in the Legions at ALL. How can a Roman possibly think to be a senator without first having to fight? I know it sounds like I forgot to water down my wine, but this is what I foresee.

        … censeo Cartegenam delendam esse (and etc.)

        Cato the Censor

        (A. Scot Crawford)

      2. Gee,I thought all those UAVs buzzing around north of Las Vegas and those little armed robots they are using in Iraq are the future. As Mr. Barnett says to Naval Officers “you will command a fleet of a hundred ships,none of which will have a sailor on them.” Will we need boots on the ground or just send in the bots?

      3. UAV’s are the future! I wonder why we don’t skip a generation of aircraft, building more of the current generation and slowly phasing in ever-more-sophisticated UAVs.

        As for the bots and even more so Barnett’s robot navy, that might take a longer time than he expects. Neither seem esp relevant to our current circumstances.

        As the saying goes, we tend to overestimate the pace of change in the near-term, and underestimate it over the long-term.

      4. I guess I couldn’t get youall to rise to the bait.

        UAV’s certainly aren’t the future for a number of reasons. (Full disclosure, I’m an Association of Old Crows member, and am thus biased).

        First. UAV’s require a real time signal link which is easy to jam if ones opponent knows the things might be coming into their airspace. As recon or special ops aircraft, UAV’s are fine… but there’s no way the technology can or should be trusted to fly $80 million dollar fighter bombers around radar nets and SAMS battery’s.

        Second. There’s not a hacker on earth who can take over an F-16 or etc. The same cannot be said regarding satellites or UAV signal links. If the Secret Service and NSA is worried about Chinese hackers shutting down pentagon computer networks, it’s certainly occurred to the procurement officers that putting all their aircraft eggs in the UAV basket would be crazy.

        Third. A missile defense shield that can fry the electronics in a missile can also fry the electronics in a remote drone (this is different that jamming radar or SAMs). Likewise, making a stealth UAV would require so many onboard automatic control systems that the first drone that crashed in enemy territory would give away the rest of ones UAV “fleet”… which would kind of defeat the purpose of building such a fleet in the first place.

        Last. Some people might remember a gee whiz signal system that was designed for all military aircraft in the 70-80’s and actually went into production for 1100 units. The pilots HATED this very complicated system so much that the entire production run ended up collecting dust. My point is thus: There’s never been a beltway bureaucrat born yet that didn’t dream of replacing skilled human pilots with some push button gizmo, and I for one prey to God that no one buys into the idea that button pushers can replace human pilots.

        The basic truth of war is that it involves people dying. Soldiers kill and die, as do civilians and household pets and etc. Yet few who have any actual experience in war imagine that it is clean or something to be taken lightly. What separates soldiers and citizen-soldiers apart from everyone else is this knowledge… that war and those who do the actual killing and dying in a war are not pieces on a chess board or animated pixels on a video screen, and that although war might be necessary, it’s not something to undertake casually. This is why there’s a brotherhood between soldiers that exists even between men who are technically enemies… whatever their politicians or various leaders may say, soldiers know it’s rarely the politicians or physicists or demagogues that die in war, it’s soldiers and random civilians who can’t manage to get out of the way. Remember Patton’s quip about no one serving their Country by dying for it (get the other poor bastard to die for HIS Country first!).

        For God’s sake, Fabius Maximus, do not buy into the lie that physicists and politicians and spies and kids wielding remote killing devices from 1000 miles away should ever be a substitute for honest and honorable soldiering! To hold and control territory requires infantry, NOT gadgets! (as we’ve discovered in Iraq). To protect shipping lanes and ports requires a Navy. & etc. Once our beloved Republic exchanges it’s legions of MEN for fancy push button gizmo’s controlled by dirty bureaucrats and politicians, our Republic will be finished.

        A. Scott Crawford

      5. Some thoughts on UAV’s.

        1. I agree with the first point. If they cost $80 million, someone has clearly missed the point. Cheap, small, expendable platforms is likely the way to go.

        2. I have heard different opinions on jamming. It’s certainly a risk to the concept. Alternatively, autonomous drones could be used for many tasks: simple strikes (think of them as next gen cruise missles), releasing weapons near the target. Recon, flying preprogramed courses (think of them as very very low sat’s). Anti-air, attacking anything else in their airspace (since IFF could be hacked).

        3. Increased electronic and other anti-air are probably net advantages of UAV’s, as their low cost (both money and no pilot) allow them to be risked in defended zones.

        It’s too early to say how this will play out. History suggests that most radically new military technology (i.e., long bows, gunpowder, steam-driven ironclads, tanks, airplanes) meets resistance — often with strong reasons why the immature technology cannot work. So these should not deter innovation and experimentation. Only then can we see where UAV’s can go.

      6. A. Scott Crawford:
        Your ideas intrigue me, and I wish to subscribe to your newsletter, but I fear the Republic has been on life support for decades. Resuscitation can be hoped for. UAVs and robots have great potential, but don’t forget that the private sector — including narcoterror — will probably benefit more from them than nation-states will.

      7. Fabius,

        The reason the UAV’s are presented as cheap and expendable is to obscure the fact that drones are wholly reliant on larger systems that are astronomically expensive (like the recent generation of navcom SV’s) and which, due to a very wide and varied demand for a limited operational capacity, are not realistically able to support the number of UAVs imagined. The fact is that the additional space assets alone (in an era when a LOT of other Nations are militarizing in space as well), if added to the unit price of a UAV (independent of all the other infrastructure required) quickly erases any notion of a simple linear budget increase. At between $14-20 million a unit UAV’s sound cheap and expendable, but this cost basis is derived from a piggy back program that exceeded expectations. Once one doubles or triples the price? Why “think cruise missiles” when said missiles are already a proven and effective platform?

        The weaknesses and quirks of the larger systems the UAV’s depend on cross my own area of expertise (without getting into other than general details). I absolutely agree that for specific categories of operations, UAV’s and/or missiles are optimal… moreover there are other strategic uses for UAV’s that I’d just as soon acknowledge without discussing. Certainly using some as LOS high altitude EW support is a great idea. But the practical uses are complimentary to existing systems, and shouldn’t be mistaken as a viable substitute for fighter bombers or cruise missiles.

        The important thing to remember is that UAV’s aren’t the modern technology (they’re just souped up model airplanes), although to watch the news this is obviously how they’re being marketed. The real advances have come in other areas and it’s these systems that have made the limited use of extended mission UAV’s viable… Once engineers are told to cook up drones that act like jets (fast, stealthy, full of EW trickery, &etc.) the liabilities become glaring and they stop being expendable or cheap.

        I’ll post over at the future of the Navy comment something that I think is much much sexier than UAV’s (plus video!)

        A. Scott Crawford

      8. I agree on all points. System costs are far great than unit costs, although they usally scale up much better. And UAV’s are a new tool, not a panacea. A nit: its the processing and telecom systems that make UAV’s “new”, not (as you note) the platform.

        Often new technologies are seen as “magic bullets”, making everything else obsolete. As bombers made infantry obsolete. As nukes made armies obsolete. As robots will make man obsolete.

        Never seems to work out that way, at least so far.

      9. “increased hedonism, greater personal expression, opposition to the military lifestyle, resistance to authority, and increased moral criticism”. The WW1 generation said the same thing about the WW2 generation. They still did the job.

        It all depends on what is being asked for. If you want a large force for ‘foreign adventures’, there will be a distinct lack of interest. The British discovered this prior to WW1, but if there is a real threat then I’m sure US, Australian, Chinese, et al, people will all rise to the challenge just as well as previous generations.

        To put it in very, very blunt terms, you have to be pretty daft, desperate or have a personality disorder to sign up for the US armed forces today and risk your precious young life, when the only goal seems to be send you to some god forsaken country to blow away a lot of civilians, for a given reason that turns out to be a lie and then watch a lot of other people make a lot of money out of it. No wonder the smarter ones, (NCO, officers) are getting out in droves and/or becoming unobtainable.

        There are (very cynical) options of course, especially if we want to go the neo-clown/Mccains’s way (100 years in Iraq; bomb, bomb, bomb Iran; many more wars, etc):

        (1) Give the soldiers a cut of the action (why let Haliburton get it all). Let looting, bribery, etc, be allowed, nay even encouraged. Used to be a soldier’s right in the past after all. Taking a large cut of the opium profits in Afghanistan (and increasingly Iraq) would a long way to incentivising people to become soldiers there.
        (2) Recruit from the proven warriers in society. Should be possible to round up a lot from all the gangs, especially if the correct incentives are given (go to jail forever if you don’t, be allowed to steal lots of money if you do). They have useful skills to bring as well, they could organise their share of the opium trade very quickly.
        (3) Create a very large Foreign Legion. Recruit from the desperate, poor and violent from all around the world (this is happening anyway, just make it a lot bigger).

        Ok, that takes care of the cannon fodder, the elite of which can be creamed off for the high tech stuff in the USAF (don’t really need all those fancy air-air combat skills, just enough to fly a plane and drop a bomb, pretty much all automated nowadys).

        Bring back the lash for the Navy and bring 12 year olds and press gangs back in (lots of potential ‘recruits’ from all those foreign merchant seamen bringing in all the imports everyday). To be fair, give them an honest choice, join us or go to Guantanamo forever (plus your family, your friends and your friends family).

        Whoops, I’d better stop now, I’m probably giving Cheney and the neo-clowns far too many good ideas.

      10. I believe that is a bit harsh. The military offers training, the possiblity of adventure, opportunity for education while in the service and funding afterwards, and decent pay/benefits. Since the vol military began the young men in the service have a lower fatality rate than their equivalents in civies. I’ve seen numbers suggesting that even for those in Iraq, the odds are similar (that averages together base staff and those out in the field).

        Then there is love of country, which plays an important role for some.

        Recruiting from gangs is an option, but would require a different training regime — and probably a different legal structure for the service. Today the Army can not “break the recruit to build the soldier” as could the 19th century UK Army. Recruiting a foreign legion would be easy, and the legislation would be easier to pass.

        The next post in my series on “the army’s greatest crisis” discusses these options in detail. Note that several of the studies quoted so far suggest that we have a sufficient population base to maintain forces of the current size — it is just a matter of how much we must pay to get recruits.

      11. Not meant to be too serious Fabius, a certain element of dark satire is involved. But the point about the purpose of the conflict (and my other comments on lack of trust in Govt in society in another thread) MUST be having an effect.

        Of the available pool of potential good recruits, motivated by the factors you mention, a certain % will be dissuaded by current events, thus lowering the total numbers available. The more intelligent they are the more skeptical they probably will be. This applies to currently serving people as well.

        Many intelligent patriotic people will be dissuaded (depending on their individual take on it), by being unwilling to kill civilians and/or risking their life for Halliburton and Exxon and/or some weird geo-strategic push and/or the sheer meaninglessness of it all and/or etc,etc.

        They would come to the fore unhesitatingly in a different set of circumstances.

        The trouble is ‘cannon fodder’ is not approriate for 4GW, where each individual soldier must gave the wit, skills and self dicipline to undertake an overall 4GW strategy and tactics. Better to have less, more skilled people than larger numbers of fodder that can only shoot.

        But we are back to the US Army culture again and the cult of numbers and attrition. {I’m sure there are some people in the Navy that secretly miss the lash though ;) }

      12. No question, you are right about the Army under current conditions. Would be interesting to see how it holds up after another year or so at aprox current pace of deployments. The deterioration is starting, albeit later than many expected.

      13. Honestly, my heart goes out to the Australian, UK, US, Dutch, et al forces. From WW2 (actually really WW1) we know that you can’t keep people in the pointy end for too long before burnout (whatever form that takes).

        Now we know about normal burnout, but from a 4GW perspective, a form that is very counter productive is that they lose self discipline and start to shoot unreasoningly (sheer frustration in many cases). A lot of the 4GW theorists seem to miss this point (or at least they don’t emphasise it enough), that effective and careful man-mangement is even more essential than for ‘normal’ operations for success.

        Whole unit replacement on regular basis, short and clear deployments, enough to build experience but not too long for burnout, with careful handovers between unit changeovers. Proper breaks, then retraining and then redeployment.

        After reading about Monty and the Wehrmacht they (under much more desperate circumstance) managed to do it, so it is possible. Why can’t we achieve this (or far better) now?

      14. OldSkeptic,

        Obviously I’m inclined to a bit of bitter satire as well, but I think there’s some other factors to consider vis a vis my generation of Officers (and 4GW operations).

        First, the Clinton Administration pursued policies that were explicitly and overtly anti-military, and prior to 9/11 a very large percentage of young officers left the service because they could not reconcile the Oath for Commissioned officers with a Commander in Chief (and “co-commander in chief” who is currently her parties leading candidate) who had absolutely no respect for the Republic or Constitution or any of the institutions most of us hold dear. How could we honorably obey a Commander in Chief who responds to charges of perjury by questioning the definition of “is”? How can we honorably hold to our Oath for a Commander in Chief who sold Presidential pardons and even pardoned radicals who’d bombed military recruiting offices in America? So please appreciate that there is a tier of very loyal officers missing from the services because corrupt politicians were and STILL ARE treated as if they believe anything other than that citizen soldiers are nothing more than robots or Star Wars clone storm troopers. Retired and active senior officers must assume responsibility for failing to openly put their feet down at the prospect of someone like former co-President Mrs. Clinton becoming Chief Executive.

        Second. I’ve written elsewhere on 4GW. For what it’s worth, although I have never worked for any US federal agency or entity for money, I have pursued courses of action that I believed were necessary to protect the Republic and members of the military and Federal Law enforcement (who because of their official status could not undertake said actions themselves). I’ve also contributed to some pretty gee whiz science and engineering/physics projects. Had I not been cursed/blessed with a weird talent in a very esoteric area and obeyed older wiser men (such as my father and grandfather) I would now be a Marine. And while it might surprise you to read that anyone would choose to be an officer in the USMC instead of something like a theoretical physicist freak, I assure you that were I to die tomorrow the necessity of this trade off would be my only regret. I think there is more honor and nobility and virtue in a Marine than ever there was in being a person like Einstein. If this means I have a personality disorder, so be it.

        A. Scott Crawford

      15. There were quite a few studies investigating the officer retention crisis. You can see some from the 2002-2004 period here. I am aware of none that suggesting that the policies of the Clinton Adminsitration had a substantial impact. The studies over a long period of time consistently show internal Army policies as among the most important — such as the lack of “loyalty down” by their superior officiers. On top of this rot the post 9-11 deployments have added another layer of problems.

      16. Pingback: U.S. recruiting falls short of superpower needs | Phil Ebersole's Blog

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