Monday, June 06, 2005

Will a volunteer army fight the Forever War?

US Officers Plot Exit Strategy from the Open-Ended 'War on Terror' (LA Times 5/22)

The Forever War was a classic science fiction story:
Yet Tuohey, who was promoted to captain upon returning to Ft. Hood, said he was not sure whether he would stay in the Army when his commitment ended next year. He said he was tempted to work on Wall Street.

It's not the money he's after. It's the fact that an Army that was gutted after the Cold War was promising him a future of perpetual deployments fighting a war that could last for decades.

That is not a future he is sure he can commit to.

"What's the end point?" he asked. "When do you declare victory?"
The LA Times article goes beyond the well known problems with recruiting high school graduates to the potentially more severe problem of retaining young officers. These officers are reasonably comfortable with their mission and their command, but they can't face repeated counter-insurgency deployments. They article doesn't go into why, but I assume that most rational warriors have one or two of these types of engagements in them -- but not an unending variety. (I don't believe I could manage one of them, myself).

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