After falling 7,000 short of its recruitment
goal last year (despite dangling lavish sign-up bonuses), the
Army is now offering to help enlistees find civilian jobs when
their tour of duty ends. The New Action Employment Service?
For the last two years, 35 percent of those
it did recruit failed to complete their initial enlistment-a
historic high. Young officers are stampeding for the exit door.
In 1988, 6.4 percent of Army captains did not re-enlist.
In each of the past three years, 10 percent left. Last year,
only 35 percent of junior officers said they intend to make
the Army a career, compared to 52 percent at the beginning of
To understand why, the Army recently surveyed
760 officers enrolled in its Command and General Staff College
at Fort Leavenworth. In the words of one instructor, "Virtually
every officer was negative."
Lack of confidence in the brass was reflected
in the comment, "Senior leaders will throw subordinates under
the bus in a heartbeat to protect or advance their career."
Junior officers dislike the shift to peacekeeping
operations-serving as nannies to squabbling Third World clans.
But this is part of a more pervasive problem.
An instructor who saw the survey forms commented: "Because of
gender integration and homosexuals in the military, there is
a feeling that being a soldier is less macho, less soldierly.
... A lot of it has to do with the perception, right or wrong,
that the Army has turned into a politically correct social organization."
Alas, the perception is correct. West Point, once the temple
of the warrior ethic, now looks increasingly like a sensitivity
training session. In April, a luncheon talk by a World War II
combat veteran was canceled because some cadets were offended
by the vet's earlier objections to women in combat.
In 1997, Col. James Hallums, a much-decorated
Vietnam veteran, was relieved of his position as head of the
academy's leadership program for criticizing the touchy-feely
ethos reigning among faculty. Women complained that Hallums
stressed his combat experience in a way that made them feel
excluded. The Army doesn't want anyone to feel excluded ("Are
you comfortable with firing that mortar?"), as Stephanie Gutmann's
new book, The Kinder, Gentler Military elucidates.
Gutmann, who spent two years writing her book,
visited bases in seven states, observed training and talked
to personnel (mostly off the record). "Degrading" terms like
wus are out. Obstacle courses have become "confidence courses."
Gutmann writes recruits "no longer do a required number of push-ups
to a count, the drill sergeant exercises along with them as
a sort of role model and they drop out when they feel like it."
In the book, a colonel rationalizes easier
physical tests for women as "equal points for equal effort."
Before she does a rope-swing, a timid recruit asks her drill
instructor, "Will you catch me?" More capable men and women
wonder if they're in basic training or on the jungle cruise
at Disney World.
Call it the draft-dodger's revenge. Clinton
has pushed an emasculated military with a vengeance, removing
exemptions for women from 250,000 close-to-combat positions.
He's turned the military over to bureaucrats who despise everything
it once represented. Recall former Assistant Army Secretary
Sara E. Lister's sneering comment that the Marines were "extremists."
The armed services will never be able to meet
the economic incentives of the private sector. Once, they
compensated with psychic rewards. Foremost among these
was the feeling, assiduously cultivated in the ranks, that soldiers
were doing something tough and dangerous of which few were capable.
Soldiers took pride in surviving a harrowing boot-camp experience.
Career men cherished tour-of-duty ribbons and field decorations.
Male-bonding and unit-cohesion were more than sociologic jargon.
Now, the warrior culture is dying. Feminists,
sensitivity trainers, those who mistake the military for an
equal opportunity employer and generals who'll tell politicians
anything to earn their next star are tugging on the life supports.
National security will be the ultimate casualty.
Try fighting the next war with troops who are used to calling
a "time-out" when they're stressed.
WILLIAM B. WELSH MAJ, SF Chief, Special Forces
Training and Doctrine Division