USATODAY.com - Army offers 15-month hitch By Dave Moniz, USA TODAY
The Army, faced with a severe and growing shortage of recruits, began offering 15-month active-duty enlistments nationwide Thursday, the shortest tours ever. The typical enlistment lasts three or four years; the previous shortest enlistment was two years. Maj. Gen. Michael Rochelle, the head of the Army Recruiting Command, said 2006 could be even worse than this year, a continuation of "the toughest recruiting climate ever faced by the all-volunteer Army."
Recruits in the new 15-month program could serve in 59 of the more than 150 jobs in the Army, including the combat infantry, and then serve two years in the Reserve or National Guard. They would finish their eight-year military obligation in the Guard or Reserve, volunteer programs such as AmeriCorps or the Peace Corps, or the Individual Ready Reserve, a pool of former active-duty troops who can still be called to duty but aren't affiliated with any military unit....
A 15-month enlistment? Check Army's fine print
DeWayne Wickham, USA TODAY
Faced with the biggest recruitment shortfall since the draft was abolished in 1973, the Army has come up with what it thinks is a good idea. The nation's largest military force will allow new enlistees the option of serving just 15 months on active duty. [...] a ruling by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals might make the Army's latest recruitment offer look even less inviting. A three-judge panel ruled Friday that the Army can use its stop-loss authority to keep people in the service even beyond their full eight-year military obligation. "We do not minimize the disruption, hardship and risk that extension of his enlistment is causing," the appeals court said of Sgt. Emiliano Santiago, an Oregon Army National Guardsman who sued to keep from being forced to stay on active duty beyond the eight-year period. "For the reasons we have set forth, however, we conclude that the application of the stop-loss order did not breach his enlistment contract." [...]
So the military has the ability not only to yank someone out of their life, not only to send them to serve when they thought they were done, but then to keep them potentially far beyond even the maximum contracted period.
Given the length of enlistment, the military probably would be better served by a draft, or at least no worse served. In many ways, it would put some of the "volunteers" on the same footing as the draftees; the people who have been forced into extended service probably want to be there even less than the people who would be forced to serve in the first place. Politically, however, a draft would be disastrous. The president might come to propose such a thing -- he's a lame duck, so what does he care? -- but Congress, which applies for its jobs every two or six years, would not feel quite the same way about it. And the people who look to the military as an actual career, who are perfectly happy to serve for their entire professional lives, would suddenly find themselves utterly surrounded by discontented people who did not want to be there, thus making their work more difficult as well.Posted by iain at May 19, 2005 12:09 PM