Young Army officers, including growing numbers of captains who leave as soon as their initial commitment is fulfilled, are bailing out of active-duty service at rates that have alarmed senior officers. Last year, more than a third of the West Point class of 2000 left active duty at the earliest possible moment, after completing their five-year obligation.
It was the second year in a row of worsening retention numbers, apparently marking the end of a burst of patriotic fervor during which junior officers chose continued military service at unusually high rates.
Mirroring the problem among West Pointers, graduates of reserve officer training programs at universities are also increasingly leaving the service at the end of the four-year stint in uniform that follows their commissioning.
The above is from Thom Shanker's "Young Officers Leaving Army at a High Rate" in this morning's New York Times. So that's some problems with retaining officers. As has been noted in numerous reports, getting people to enlist is also a problem. Since that's not noted in the above, we'll note "Out of Jail, Into the Army" Salon via CounterRecruiter:
Facing an enlistment crisis, the Army is granting "waivers" to an increasingly high percentage of recruits with criminal records -- and trying to hide it...
Through the use of a little-known, but increasingly important, escape clause known as a waiver. Waivers, which are generally approved at the Pentagon, allow recruiters to sign up men and women who otherwise would be ineligible for service because of legal convictions, medical problems or other reasons preventing them from meeting minimum standards...
According to statistics provided to Salon by the office of the assistant secretary of defense for public affairs, the Army said that 17 percent (21,880 new soldiers) of its 2005 recruits were admitted under waivers. Put another way, more soldiers than are in an entire infantry division entered the Army in 2005 without meeting normal standards. This use of waivers represents a 42 percent increase since the pre-Iraq year of 2000...
It's a grim picture for the armed forces but I'm sure some official spokesperson will be able to tie a pretty bow around the whole thing and call it a success (and equally sure that the Times will unquestioningly "report" on it).
Martha notes two highlights. First up, a topic of interest to the community that we need to note more, Neelesh Misra's "Nepalis Defy Curfew to Press Demands for Democracy:
Alliance Against King Gains Strength; Rebels Back Strike" (Associated Press):
Protesters demanding the restoration of democracy took to the streets across Nepal in defiance of a daytime curfew Sunday, throwing stones at security forces and burning government offices, as the political crisis deepened in this Himalayan country.
With both King Gyanendra and his opponents refusing to back down, the situation appeared to be reaching its most volatile point since the king seized absolute power more than a year ago. The well-armed communist insurgency has allied itself with the political opposition, which vowed Sunday to continue demonstrations indefinitely. The government warned it would respond with harsher measures.
The second highlight Martha notes is Walter Pincus' "Specter Says Bush, Cheney Should Explain Leak" (Washington Post):
President Bush and Vice President Cheney need to explain what classified information was authorized to be leaked to reporters in July 2003 and why, the Republican chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee said yesterday.
"I think that there has to be a detailed explanation precisely as to what Vice President Cheney did, what the president said to him, and an explanation from the president as to what he said so that it can be evaluated," Sen. Arlen Specter (Pa.) said. He was referring to last week's revelation in a court document that Cheney's former chief of staff, I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, testified that Cheney told him Bush approved leaking parts of a classified document about intelligence estimates of Iraq's weapons of mass destruction.
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