Monday, July 18, 2005

Iraq Barometer: Military enlistment

So, how is the U.S. Military doing in Iraq?

One measure often floated is the dropping enlistment rate and failure to meet enlistment goals. However, this is a functionally flawed method for determining progress in Iraq. Why? Because those that are _enlisting_, as opposed to re-enlisting, have never been in Iraq and their only sources of information are: (1) the media and (2) soldiers who have been there.

Source #1 provides mainly negative news, i.e. # of dead, # of suicide bombers, havok wrecked, how bad things are, etc. The only counterpoint is the blogosphere, where many folks, incld. a large number from source #2, try to highlight all the positive progress being made in Iraq.

Source #2 provide more positive news, as shown by blogging, but just as importantly, by the rate of _re-inlistment_. If military soldiers are _re-enlisting_, after having served 1 or more tours of duty in Iraq, then that should be the _best_ indicator of how the war is doing. Why? Because if you want to know how a war is doing, you should ask those that are actually fighting it. For more details, see the story below.

Oh, and for those doubters and those whom would say "they are _bribed_ to re-enlist," I call your very weak hand. First, bonuses would be available to soldiers regardless of whether there was a war on or not. Military bonus policy for re-enlistments has stayed the same for the last decade, with the only exception being that the amounts have increased and that more soldiers are eligible. The 100k bonuses you will read about is for a special forces warrior; not PFC Joe Blow, who can only get about 10k. And 10k isn't much more than the 5k that was available previous to the start of the War on Terrorism/Iraqi liberation. Second, and even more telling: only 60% of those enlisting have qualified for any type of bonus to begin with. Sum: Go GI Joe, Go Freedom.

http://www.usatoday.com/news/nation/2005-07-17-soldiers-re-enlist_x.htm

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